Recreating the vintage tones from yesteryear is the goal of many effects builders. In fact, it’s what drives many young electronic tinkerers to pick up the soldering gun and start constructing circuits of their own. But, as most tech-savoy folks know, cloning a vintage effect isn’t as easy as copying a circuit and shoving it in a new box. The problem is that parts just aren’t made the same way anymore. Back in the day we didn’t have the same quality restrictions. For example, a resistor could vary as much as +/- 20% from what is written on the outside. A 100 ohm resistor could be anywhere between 80 and 120 ohms. This is a big difference and a frustrating one to builders (and musicians) alike who are trying to nail a certain tone. Because of this, getting a clone to sound just like an original is part artistry and part science. This is what McCaffrey Audio set out to do.
McCaffrey Audio was founded by Ryan McCaffrey out of Wausau, Wisconsin (my home state). Their slogan is, “Classic Tone With A Modern Twist” and this really seems to be the heart of their philosophy. To first recreate the exact tone of a vintage pedal and then to add to that in a way that enhances or adds to the tone. On their website McCaffrery writes:
simply reproducing a vintage sonic signature was not enough. Allowing the guitarist to retain the basic characteristics of the vintage sonic signature, while adding more modern elements –more low-end to deal with detuned, or 7/8 string guitars, changing the output filtering (high / low pass), and other modifications (which vary by pedal) allow the guitarist to adapt a vintage tone to a more modern instrument, musical genre and playing style. It’s all about customizing and adapting an immediately identifiable sonic signature to your specific playing style.
It’s nice to see a builder with such a clear route forward. When that route is shared by so many musicians as well – it becomes a winning recipe.
On the McCaffrey Audio website you’ll find four pedal in their lineup:
Green Vodka Muff: At the heart of the pedal is a circuit that is close to the early 90’s Sovtek era green muffs. I tried to nail that Russian sweetness with some of my favorite mods…including my own custom mods…to make the hammer and sickle red with envy!
Reactor Boost Compressor: The Reactor Boost Compressor was truly born by the demands of the people! I was never a big compressor guy. I had numerous requests for various compressor builds over a three month period. I decided to see what all the fuss was about!!!
Zero To Sixty Drive: The Zero To Sixty Drive is a combination of my favorite overdrive tones and features. I designed this pedal after building and modding numerous overdrive pedals. I tweaked this, tightened that, added this, dropped that and ended up here. I realized that I had multiple boutique overdrives and wanted an “all in one” pedal of my favorites. I hope that you enjoy this pedal and that it inspires you to play and have fun doing that!
The final pedal in their line-up is new and headed out to stores and buyers at the beginning of this month and – of course they are already sold out. That pedal is the Run Rabbit Run a vibe pedal that “emulates all of the classic sounds of the vintage Uni-Vibe TM pedal but incorporates a new and wide palate of sounds with ease of use for the gigging musician.” Inside this pedal you’ll find a phaser, chorus and vibrato circuit you can control with depth and speed knobs. The speed knob has a larger knob for ease of use with your foot. Beyond these controls you have the ‘Crazy’ switch which doubles the rate of modulation as well as a ‘Thump’ three way toggle that gives you varying levels of low end response. Besides having a ton of functionality, the pedal is damn handsome with a great layout.
Check out what Ryan and his crew are up to at their FB page or at their website. If you’ve come face to face with some of their effects, let us know by leaving a review at Pedal Finder (Don’t worry, we’ll have the rest of their pedals in the database shortly!) Here’s a demo of the Run Rabbit Run!