Saturday January 14, 2012
 

Red Witch Moon Phaser Review

Red Witch Deluxe Moon Phaser

Red Witch Deluxe Moon Phaser

Used by some heavy hitting devotees such as Sting, Andy Summers, Depeche Mode and John Mayer, boutique pedal manufacturer Red Witch Analog Pedals is a company to watch.  This small innovative exotic stompbox company based in New Zealand has been wowing the pedal fanatic community with their avant-garde designs. We take a closer look at the Red Witch Deluxe Moon Phaser ($299.95).

Ease of Use

This is literally the most unintuitive pedal I’ve used… both in a good and bad way. There are only three knobs but they offer a plethora of tones and it’s a learning curve to find the one that’ll work best for you.

Velocity is the speed of the pulse. Fast is at 7 o’clock turn clockwise and it’s slow at 5 o’clock. I think this would be normally called “speed” and most Phasers are wired the opposite, so usually turning clockwise increases the speed.
Trajectory controls where the pulse happens. At 7 o’clock the pulse goes lower. Dial to 5 o’clock and it gets shimmery. This is probably the “intensity” knob on other pedals.
Cosmology is not a dial to discover the origins of the Universe; it is in fact a 6 way rotary switch that selects the 4 phaser, 1 tremolo and 1 tremophase modes. As below:

  • Pos 1 = Phaser a
  • Pos 2 = Tremophaser a
  • Pos 3 = Phaser b
  • Pos 4 = Tremophaser b
  • Pos 5 = Phaser c
  • Pos 6 = Tremolo a

Tremophase is, as designer Ben Fulton explains “when the volume pulse of the tremolo occurs at the same time as the phase shift sound”. In essence it’s a phaser infused with a tremolo.

Similarly a MXR Phase 90 just has a single “speed” dial. A Phase 100 has the additional “intensity” knob though neither of these pedals are true bypass and are known for a 15 percent volume drop. Fundamentally the controls and labelling on the Red Witch Deluxe Moon Phaser are very eccentric but you’ll be exploring for days with so many assortments of tone. Let’s just say it’s an adventure…

Sounds

Red Witch Deluxe Moon Phaser

Red Witch Deluxe Moon Phaser

I’m not going to describe each and every setting as it’s kinda hard to put down on paper. Needless to say just check out the YouTube videos.  However I will say overall the tones are lush, spacious, organic and warm. It goes from a deep throbbing pulse to swishing waves. You get the whole psychedelic, acid tripping 60’s vibe with this pedal, from Beatles to Floyd and back. It pretty much nails the David Gilmour Univibe tone and has no problems doing a decent Hendrix Bold as Love swirl on demand. If you’re after a more modern sound you can get a phase shift reminiscent of 90’s Indie bands Smashing Pumpkins or UK band Suede.

Tonally it’s very transparent for cleans, which will let your natural amp sound come through. So much so that if your tone isn’t already up to your liking the Red Witch Deluxe Moon Phaser isn’t likely to assist. Some of the settings also raises the amps EQ brightness by a few notches at the top end of the swirl. That’s just the nature of phase shifters.

Red Witch Deluxe Moon Phaser Trimpot

Red Witch Deluxe Moon Phaser Trimpot

With metal type distortion it’s oddly not as subtle as I’d hoped and the effect can be excessively full on. I could not get a suitable setting to tame the sweep down so ended up putting the Phaser before the distortion effects. The Moon was too overpowering. The MXR 90 “Script” Phaser is thought to combine the wet and dry signals together giving a more transparent tone. So if you are looking for a way to enhance your distortion with an EVH Atomic Punk, Eruption brown sound this might work out better for you.  However it’s not a biggy, the Phaser seemed to work well before the distortion it’s just a different sound. I didn’t try the stereo wet and dry signals together so this could be a possible option to get round this.

The Tremolo mode is not meant to replace a full on Tremolo unit it’s just there for added variety. I suspect it’s not likely to match a Fender Tremolux. Red Witch also builds a Pentavocal Tremolo if you are looking for a tremolo in a box.

Taking the bottom plate off you will notice the internal trimpot which gives you even more range of options to tweak your sound. After twiddling the internal pot for sometime I think it’s actually best left alone. This seems to affect the Trajectory setting making it even more warbled. As the Red Witch website states before you make any changes, mark the default position which incidentally is at the 2 o’clock position.

Construction

The pedal uses all quality components and construction. The enclosure is a nice pearl white with a basic purple Red Witch logo. It’s not quite as distinctive as the Red Witch Empress Chorus which has an artful screen printed “Empress” motif.

All Red Witch pedals are housed in a rectangular construction that’s a little shorter and longer than the average Boss sized pedal but should fit comfortably onto most pedal boards.  Like many boutique pedals the battery compartment is a bit of a chore to get to. You have to unscrew four screws of the enclosure to release the bottom plate.

Red Witch Deluxe Moon Phaser with Box and Denim Bag

Red Witch Deluxe Moon Phaser with Box and Denim Bag

The Red Witch pedal comes in a printed box, which is in fact quite unusual for boutique pedal. They typically come in an uneventful blank box to save cost. A cute denim bag is even provided to carry your pedal in. This all goes to show that this is a quality product, made with care and not something soldered together in a mass manufacturing plant. Ben Fulton personally tests and checks every pedal before it is distributed and the pedal has his signature at the bottom.

The Red Witch Deluxe Moon Phaser is the second coming hence the “Deluxe” moniker or should we say new moon. The previous model was just “Moon Phaser” and came in chrome or a custom paint job. It did not have the stereo outputs.

Conclusion

Ben Fulton has created an evocative Phaser pedal that manages to be unorthodox and at the same time tonally compelling. It’s a stompbox that out of the box you can get great sonic sculptures but will take a while to really get to know the landscape. The price tag might put off many but the hardened tone freaks, but it’s worth saving for to get possibly one of the best Phasers in the world today. The unconventional branding, naming of switches and lack of setting instructions just adds to the whole mystique.

So beam me down and set your Phaser to kill.

One of these will stun you, the other is used by Captain Kirk

One of these will stun you, the other is used by Captain Kirk

Pros

  • Vast array of tones
  • Additional Tremolo and Tremophase modes
  • True Bypass
  • Stereo

Cons

  • Unintuitive rotary switch labels
  • Price

 

 

 

 

 

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