Jan 22, 2010

In the contemporary boutique effects community, the hippest stomp-boxes offer bizarre and unprecedented ways to thoroughly dismember one’s guitar signal. Conversely, traditional effects like phasers and vibratos have become about as sexy as huge crimped hair and shoulder pads. The chorus pedal, like the floyd-rose tremolo and 12-string bass guitar seem to have been excommunicated from the Church of Cool.Tortuga Effects, a hot new stomp-box company, enjoyed early success with products such as the Sasquatch, a fuzz device with a second channel that makes one’s guitar howl like a lovesick Bigfoot. Founded by Seattle high-end gear guru Matt Johnson, Tortuga is putting its cool-cache on the line with their first chorus pedal, the Martini. Influenced by the boundary-bending irreverence of the Sasquatch, the Martini stirs up the classic sound of traditional chorus by acting as two distinct pedals in one, with two speed controls that can be switched on the fly. The “order” button turns Martini on, and “how strong?” switches between the “single” and “double” channels. The latter can switch between “Shaken” (chorus) or “Stirred” (vibrato) modes. Powered by a standard 9v wall wart, the hand-made pedal features obsessive construction quality and true-bypass switching, so it will not affect tone when disengaged.From The Police’s plinkyness to swampy Nirvana sludge, I found every classic chorus sound in the unit. Doubling distorted solos with a chunky chorus setting yields an unbelievably thick lead sound. Riffs become more gut-wrenching. At a list price of $299, the dual-channel Martini packs more value than single-channel boutique offerings like the Empress Chorus by Redwitch, and industry staples like the Stereo Chorus/Flanger by TC Electronics and Chorus XII by Carl Martin. If you have a shy, sober guitar sound, the Martini is the perfect sonic social lubricant. – by Ben Wigler

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