The Palmer Root Effects line of guitar and bass stomp boxes are manufactured by Palmer Musical Instruments. Palmer is a German company, also well known for their line of heavy duty pro audio tools, including DI’s, components and stage gear.
From Native Instruments to Neumann, Steinberger to eMagic (before Apple bought them), I’ve got a pretty good track record with German made audio equipment. These pedals have a definite “built to last” look and feel, with a tough metal chassis, true bypass switch, and chunky metal knobs. The pedals also have an interesting feature I’ve not seen before… the base plate of the pedal protrudes out about an inch in the front, with pre-drilled holes so you can screw mount the pedals to your board. This is great for the pedal boards you carry vertically, when velcro just won’t cut it. They assume that in that case, you’ll be using a power supply (it takes a standard 9V Boss type adaptor), because you will no longer have access to the battery compartment.
The flanger and phaser are the two most common modulatory effects in a guitarist’s arsenal. The flanger introduces a small pitch change that oscillates over time, and the phaser a change in phase that roughly equates to an oscillation in EQ. Though they are quite different sounds, I’ve never felt the need for both of these swirling effects on my board at once.
The Palmer Phaser is rich and versatile. The depth knob controls how much of the phase shifted signal mixes in with your dry signal, from subtle to psycho! There is a nice range in the speed knob, at its maximum giving something of a tremolo effect. This was something that I felt was sadly lacking on the flanger. I often use a flanger at high speed to emulate a leslie speaker in it’s fast mode. The Palmer Flanger doesn’t quite reach that rate. Cranking the resonance and pulling back the depth on the Phaser does a pretty good job at that sound, though. The Phaser’s resonance knob moves from a softer (think Phase 90) type sound at the low end, to a sharper, more “pinched” sounding tone on the high end. My only complaint about the Phaser would be that it introduces a bit of a gain loss when it’s engaged. It would be great if that was compensated for, or there was a gain knob to make up the lost volume. The flanger on the other hand, had no such problem, and was a nice volume match from on to bypass.
The Bazz pedal was a surprise stand out. It’s an amazingly versatile, yet simple bass distortion/gain pedal. Plug it in and play the opening riff to “Sabotage”! This pedal has the ability to get “rude” and “fat” at the same time, thanks to it’s “Fuzz” and “Tone” controls. Turning the fuzz all the way down, you can still crank up the pedal’s “volume” knob, and get a nice clean boost (and plenty of it). If your active pickups are coming in too hot, there’s a “pad” push-switch on the side of the pedal to give you plenty of headroom. While you’re at it, you can just adjust the tone, and create a nice treble boost without the fuzz. To further your EQ options, there is a mid-boost switch on the face of the pedal. To my ears, without the mid-boost, there is a bit of a mid cut, giving it the ability to have that scooped, metal type of tone. With the boost in, your bass will cut through the most dense mixes and could fit comfortably in a classic rock to punk sound!
I should mention that all of these claims are equally true when using the pedal on a guitar. It creates an incredibly “tight” distortion that is very clean and focused. I found myself meandering from 80’s rock to NIN style industrial tones when pushing my Les Paul through it. This was all with my amp on the clean setting. When pushing tube distortion, the Bazz gets absolutely “searing”!
The Palmer Root Effects are just starting to make their way across the pond, so keep an eye out for them. They are well made, versatile, and quite reasonably priced. And the Bazz… not just for four strings! – Matt Rocker