It’s no secret that the guitar and bass effect industry pushes out serious quantities of product that garner manufacturers and retailers millions of dollars every year. As the monuments of the industry slowly release new pedals, reissues and work to innovate, small boutique start-ups jockey for a place in the mix with their latest creations. Yes, the pedal effects industry is healthy and that’s good for us musicians. As the beneficiaries of the fruits of their labor, we have choices-a-plenty within a variety of effects categories. In fact, the reason Pedal Finder exists is to make sifting through all these great pedals that much easier, by providing more than just manufacturer snippets and specifications. But, I digress.
Fueled by a seemingly endless supply of brilliant engineers from around the world chasing tones and pushing their electrical philosophies from their imaginations to the pedal board, it’s no surprise that we feel like maybe we’ve seen it all. And, at times, it is hard to see new features and innovations as anything more than a gimmick to attract attention. Cramming large pedals into smaller boxes or adding features to pre-existing effects that add little if anything to the overall usefulness of the pedal are just a few of the ideas builders have come up with to attract attention to new pedals. Sometimes these ideas work to great effect and sometimes they fall flat. It’s a fine line between breakthrough idea and gimmicky marketing idea. That’s why when I first read about Aalberg Audio‘s remote controlled delay pedal, I was skeptical about the usefulness of the idea, but the more I learned the more I was intrigued.
The idea comes out of the mind of Rune Aalberg Alstad from Trondheim, Norway. He was lamenting the lack of mobility musicians have on stage when it came to manipulating their
effects. Sure, a guitarist or bassists could be wireless and move from one end of the stadium to the other, but when it came time to switch effects, they always had to make it back to their pedal board on time. It didn’t seem right to him, so in 2010 he started to design a wireless controller for an effects pedal. Over the course of 4 years the design took shape and now he has an Indiegogo campaign forhis latest creation: a delay pedal dubbed EKKO EK-1 and a wireless controller called the AERO AE-1. The pedal sits on your board, but the wireless control connects to your guitar or strap so that with a push of a button you can switch the presets remotely.
Although the mind swims with possibilities, the immediate drawback at this time is that you are chained to the EKKO EK 1 delay pedal. Don’t get me wrong, the EKKO EK 1 could be an amazing delay pedal. But as a musician, is it more important to be able to switch presets from afar or to have the pedals you love on your board? I’m all too aware that as an armchair engineer it’s easy to toss out criticisms and suggest additions and changes to an otherwise great idea and I’m not here to downplay Aalberg Audio’s innovation. Instead, I see an idea at the beginning of a journey. One that will absolutely change the way musicians think about composition in terms of effects and tone and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for this new technology and how it begins to evolve the way musicians play and perform.
So get excited and check out their video about how it works and what you can do with it. Then, let us know what you think!