Review: EarthQuaker Devices Aqueduct Vibrato Pedal

(Image credit: EarthQuaker Devices)

EarthQuaker Devices has been on a tear lately, releasing a bundle of impressive new pedals. And if you’re at all familiar with any of EQD’s colorful stompboxes, you’d know it’s rare that their most popular time-based and modulation pedals feature anything less than six controls on their topography. So, after receiving the brand-new EQD Aqueduct Vibrato, I was surprised by its minimalistic control set. With a simple rate and depth knob, and a Mode control that allows you to select between eight different modulation modes — from fantastic vintage-sounding pitch modulation to trippy out-of-this-world bending and stretching of notes — the Aqueduct is a real head-turner, not to mention one of the most fun pedals I’ve ever reviewed from this eccentric company.

Vibrato is, no doubt, a squiggly and wobbly effect once engaged. And the Aqueduct makes no apologies for its modulation because it offers eight ways of producing its intense pitch-bending capabilities (Sine, Triangle, Ramp, Square, Random, Env D, Env R, and Env P). It also features a proprietary Flexi-Switch that allows you to select between standard latching-style switching (on/off), and momentary switching where by simply holding the footswitch down holds the effect indefinitely until you release it.

There are so many sounds you can create with the Aqueduct that it’s best for me to give a greatest hits of my favorites. I’m more traditional, so I love hanging with Sine wave mode, which offers that classic slightly out-of-tune yet chorusy pitch bending vibrato that is reminiscent of the Edge’s guitar sound on U2’s Boy album. The Ramp mode is a trampoline of pitch bending, where notes bounce up and down rhythmically as if you were whacking a tremolo bar. Once you get to Random, all bets are off, and the waveform takes notes to warp speed by accelerating and slowing them down — kinda like a mindless driver in the left lane who shouldn’t be there. Env D (depth), Env R (rate) and Env P (pitch) are all envelope-controlled modes where the intensity of your pick attack shapes the modulation. It’s worth noting that Env P is what EQD dubs the “My Bloody Valentine” setting where the modulated vibrato bends is best served using the momentary switch. Here, the spectrum of sounds can run the gamut of extreme detuned chorus and whammy wiggles that peak in an all-out sonic assault, especially if you add dollops of fuzz.

STREET PRICE: $199
MANUFACTURER: EarthQuaker Devices, earthquakerdevices.com