Fact: your guitar doesn’t have to sound like a traditional clean or overdriven rock machine, and the gear industry is seemingly on a mission to remind us of this.
The latest synth pedal to find its way through our door is the Space Rip from Pigtronix, which offers sawtooth and square wave synth sounds with a twist, thanks to its use of Pulse Width Modulation – an analogue synthesis technique that, as its name suggests, modulates the pulse of the wave shape you’re generating.
But what does that sound like? Well, the word modulation is the clue here – you get an evolving synth sound as the waves fade and blend into one another, producing a slight chorus-like effect.
The Space Rip is controlled by rate, tune, mix and sub controls. The rate knob controls the speed of the modulation, with slowest speeds giving the most constant sound, while increasing it creates a more modulated, choppy effect.
Tune changes the pitch of the Space Rip’s oscillators – at 12 o’ clock it’s flat, and turning it anti-clockwise decreases the pitch; turning it clockwise increases it. Mix is a blend between your dry signal and the synth sounds, while sub brings in a voice an octave below your guitar’s signal.
And additional shape control lets you switch the oscillator between sawtooth and square waves, while the octave button shifts the synth side of the pedal down by another octave.
The Space Rip is monophonic, so you’ll need to play single-note lines into it in order for it to track your notes – which when played neatly and with a consistent picking level it does quickly and accurately – but what you have here are the ingredients for a heady sonic cocktail.
Experimentation is key, with thick synth bass, ripping gated fuzz-style riffs, and whining high-pitched leads all on offer. Due to its nature, we found the Space Rip to be a magnet for Minimoog funky lines, but there’s a lot of room for processing the sound after the fact with delays and a way for filtered synth sounds.
It’s a niche pedal, and at $179/£159 is a sturdy investment unless it’ll be making a regular appearance in your set, but if you’re the type of player who wants less traditional types of sounds then there’s a lot of fun to be had here.
- PRICE: $179 / £159
- TYPE: Analogue pulse width modulation synth pedal
- FEATURES: Sawtooth /square wave voices, octave/sub octave
- CONTROLS: Rate, mix, tune, sub, shape, octave
- CONNECTIONS: Input, output, power
- POWER: 9v PSU only (not included)
- CONTACT: Pigtronix