Since the official groundbreaking of Echopark Guitars in 2012, founder Gabriel Currie has built himself a very impressive guitar company empire.
In addition to offering a wide variety of awesome Echopark guitars favored by players like Joe Perry, Josh Homme, and Charlie Starr, he’s also recently started making amps and effects pedals. Echopark’s first pedal offerings consist of three different models—the Dual-Harmonic boost, F-1 Dual Germanium fuzz, and Soapbox boost. We took a look at the Soapbox and F-1.
Unlike many of today’s current breed of boutique effects, the Echopark pedals are no-nonsense affairs with minimalist aesthetics instead of gimmicky graphics and cutesy control descriptions. In fact, the only marking on the pedals is the Echopark name plate. This reflects the fact that the pedals are designed as tools for working musicians, who know that inputs are usually on the right, outputs are on the left, and the adapter jack is for a 9VDC center negative plug.
Both pedals feature 100-percent hand wired circuits, full-sized internal pots and discreet components. The pedal’s oversized, vintage-style control knobs are easy to grip and adjust under the pressure of a live gig, and each pedal’s LED (red on the F-1, blue on the Soapbox) glow brightly when the effect is engaged with the true bypass footswitch.
The Soapbox has a single level control knob for dialing in 0 to +15dB of boost. That’s it. The F-1 Dual Germanium fuzz has a level (amount of fuzz added to the dry signal) control on the left and a blend (combining the first and second stages of the PNP germanium transistor) control on the right.
The F-1 Dual Germanium is based on the rare Mosrite Fuzzrite pedal often heard during the Sixties on recordings by the Ventures, Davie Allan’s biker movie soundtracks, and Iron Butterfly’s “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.” The F-1 perfectly nails the Fuzzrite’s gritty, buzzy character, but the level and blend controls provide a wider variety of textures than the original’s volume and depth controls. Experimenting with the blend control can unleash harmonically rich Octavia-style fuzz, the slashing buzz of a ripped speaker, or mellow, violin-like swells. The fuzz effect cleans up when the guitar’s volume control is turned down, and the effect works well with both clean and distorted amp settings.
The Soapbox is essentially a clean boost, but it also makes a guitar’s tone sweeter and more harmonically rich. I found that it made my rig’s upper midrange more musical while also taming the rough edges of my amp’s presence control. Engaging this effect is a one-way ticket to robust rhythm tones and expressive, pro-recording quality solo tones.
LIST PRICES $170 (Soapbox); $230 (F-1 Dual Germanium)
MANUFACTURER Echopark Instruments, echoparkinstruments.com.
• The F-1 Dual Germanium is based on the rare Mosrite Fuzzrite pedal but also provides a wider range of textures from buzzy vintage Sixties fuzz to smooth, violin-like sustain.
• The Soapbox is a clean boost that provides up to 15dB of boost while also cleaning up your tone by enhancing the midrange and taming shrill treble.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Echopark’s new pedals are expressive, no-nonsense, and sensibly priced tools that instantly add a professional touch of class to your guitar’s tone.