I first came into contact with Providence effects in February 2010, when they asked me to demo a couple of pedals for them. It was a bit of a revelation, actually.
Once I’d developed the taste for their work, I was addicted. Heavily. I think it was the SOV-2 Stampede Overdrive that really nailed me, but everything else was great as well.
I went on to cover their entire stomp catalog and have since become an unabashed and proud endorser, not just of their pedals but of their cables, too.
I don’t say this lightly, as I have my own brand to consider (and fly the flag for), but I cannot and will not pass up an opportunity to ride with the best. And folks, Providence gear is right up there.
Providence is a brand of Pacifix Ltd., Japan. They began in 1996 and at that time offered things like A/B boxes and dirt boxes like the SOV-1 and SDT-1 overdrive/distortions. Later, they developed the PEC-1 Audio Routing System, and that helped put them on the map.
The Providence development team is headed up by Yuki Hayashi (overdrive/distortion pedals – SOV-2 and FDR-1, etc.) and Atsuki Saito. Atsuki is responsible for development of time and modulation pedals like the now highly collectible DLY-83 Delay 80’s.
In recent times, the DLY-83 has been commanding crazy prices on the used market, probably because it cannot be produced any longer due to a shortage of components. Providence has since released the DLY-4 "Chrono Delay" that offers greater functionality as well as tap-tempo. I am an avid user of the Chrono Delay and had no trouble parting with the lesser-equipped DLY-83.
So what makes the Providence pedals so great? For me it’s a combination of simple design, near-indestructible build quality (very important on the road) and undeniably killer sound. That’s the really big thing for me: the sound.
A listen-and-play (You’ve got to experience it yourself) of pedals such as the SOV-2 Stampede Overdrive and FDR-1 Flame Drive should convince you. But there are other gems in their catalog, such as the criminally unsung ADC-3 Anadime Chorus and PHF-1 Phase Force Phaser. I have both of these on my touring board, despite having access to dozens of better-known brands. The Providence stuff is just better, at least for me.
A look at their website will suggest that the Providence crew seem to have a close association with one Mr. Pete Cornish, so I’m guessing a few tricks have been picked up from the Master. In fact, their site shows some pretty impressive rack systems they’ve built for many top Japanese touring musicians.
They tell me they’re hoping to branch out into guitars and basses eventually, so I’m looking forward to that. If Providence approach instrument building with as much care and attention as they do to pedal and effect building, then those instruments will be truly something to watch out for.
© 2011 Brett Kingman
Brett Kingman, aka Burgerman666 on YouTube, is Sadie’s dad. He’s also a 40-something seasoned pro/hack who continuously runs around Australia and other parts of the world with iconic singers, trying his best to make them and him sound good. Brett uses HIWATT amps and Providence cables and pedals. He is part owner and designer of Australian pedal company, Dvk Technologies.