Pedals from Spanish companies tend to go under the radar in the UK for some reason, although we do get to see them occasionally – the Aclam Dr Robert being one such example.
Here we have the Massive Unity 10th Anniversary Danny Gomez signature TAE pedal on review, designed by its namesake, a highly experienced session musician and designer, as well as a massive Brian May aficionado.
As for the rest of the name – TAE stands for Tube Amp Emulator and the pedal commemorates 10 years of the original Danny Gomez design, as seen in a pedal made by another Spanish company, Thunder Tomate.
The TAE is basically a preamp pedal that takes its inspiration from Vox amp tone, but it has a range of applications via its two outputs. One output delivers the straight preamp sound so you can plug it into a power amp or the effects return of your amp, thus using the TAE rather than your amp’s preamp section.
Alternatively, you can use it like a straight overdrive pedal going directly into your amp. The second output has speaker emulation based on the sound of an open-backed cabinet with two 12-inch Alnico Blue speakers like an AC30, so you can use it direct into a PA or for recording.
Three knobs control the action: Volume for output, Gain to dial in the amount of dirt in the sound, and a Tone knob for the top-end. Nicely touch-sensitive and functioning as a standard drive pedal or preamp, it will endow your amp with a very practical range of Vox-flavoured drive.
Using the speaker-emulated output, direct into an audio interface, we were able to record realistic mic’d AC30 tones without the high volume and hassle. What’s more, it takes other pedals well: a Rangemaster-style treble booster in front of it will definitely put you in the ballpark for some driven Brian May tones.
Vox Valvenergy Mystic Edge – $179 / £159
Vox’s AC30-in-a-box pedal features an all-analogue signal path based around a Nutube miniature vacuum tube. Use it in front of your amp, as a line-level preamp, or direct into an audio interface or PA.
Strymon Iridium – $399 / £379
Three amp choices combined with three IR speaker choices make this a really versatile pedal for creating driven valve amp tones. Choose the Chime setting for AC30 sounds.
Carl Martin AC-Tone – $156 / £129
Looking for a pedalboard-friendly drive pedal with Vox tone? This is based on the larger twin-channel Pro Searies AC-Tone with a simpler single-channel setup and slightly beefed up.
- PRICE: $349 / £269 approx / €299
- ORIGIN: Spain
- TYPE: Preamp/drive pedal
- FEATURES: True Bypass
- CONTROLS: Gain, Tone, Volume, Bypass footswitch
- CONNECTIONS: Standard input, standard preamp output, standard speaker simulated output
- POWER: 9V DC adaptor (not supplied)
- DIMENSIONS: 120 (w) x 97 (d) x 50mm (h)
- CONTACT: Danny Gomez