I’ve never been an EQ person. Don’t they seem sort of superfluous as your guitar, amp, and other pedals already have tone controls? A while back I added a Xotic EP Booster to the Pedaltrain Mini. Rather than use the EP for boost, I leave the gain on zero and just use it for that shimmer and clarity it adds back to the guitar signal’s high frequencies. I started thinking – if the EP seems to do something special that my other tones controls can’t do….what could other EQ pedals do?
I first picked up a Danelectro Fish-n-Chips graphic EQ pedal. Used, this was less than $40, is dead quiet, and does a great job. (I highly recommend the F-n-C for a budget EQ) Primarily, I wanted something to put in the effects loop of the Budda Superdrive to take down the level for apartment practice. The F-n-C is great for that purpose and lets you add back the bass frequencies that become attenuated when the volume levels are low. I then tried using the F-n-C to tweak the Budda to dial in some of those upper-mid crunchies that my Marshall JCM 800 4210 does so well. No dice. It seems the discrete frequency sliders of the F-n-C are set too far apart to selectively boost the right frequencies for those tones. I needed something more tweakable.
After much online reading, I settled on trying out the Fromel Shape EQ. This is a very interesting pedal. It’s a twist on a regular parametric EQ pedal where, in addition to selectively dialing in the mid frequencies, it also has bass and treble controls. Like a standard parametric EQ, the mid controls allow you to select the mid frequency, adjust the width of the frequencies that will be affected, and pick the amount of boost or cut. There’s no labels on the uniquely finished aged metal case. According to the designer, the controls are obvious and I agree. It also has a switch to engage a high quality buffer or act in true bypass mode. The buffer is exceptionally quiet. I’ve also decided that this will be my single buffered pedal for the pedalboard (see the book’s chapter on True Bypass for more on the way to use true bypass pedals in your rig).
The big surprise is that the Shape is a lot like the Xotic EP in that it seems to magically pop exactly the right frequencies to clear up your tone. While the EP does this for the highs, the Shape works its magic on the mids. It’s incredibly easy to use. I’ve used parametric EQs before and they can be frustrating as their effect is very surgical…they only affect a selectable, band of frequencies. The Shape does the same thing but also lets you push/cut the bass and treble frequencies of your guitar’s tone. Like the EP, the result is that turned on…your guitar tone pops!….turned off, it sounds dull….on-pop….off-dull.
With the shape, I’ve been able to tweak the Budda’s mids for a JCM 800 crunch, adjust the mids on my Rivera-era Fender SuperChamp for a thicker lead tone, fatten up the single coils on my tele, or even thin down the humbuckers on my Les Paul for a nice clean tone. The number of ways this pedal can be used are infinite and it would be a great addition to almost any rig.