In a mostly quiet week on the new product front, the big news was Gibson’s unveiling of a new line of analog effects pedals under the Maestro label. The brand was originally launched by Gibson back in 1962—so long ago that Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones famously used its FZ-1 fuzz pedal for the main riff on “Satisfaction.”
If you’re old enough, you might also remember the Maestro name on the Boomerang Wah and the Echoplex tape delay. The 1970s-era EP-3 Echoplex was the first solid-state version of that classic tape delay unit. Until this week, however, the Maestro brand had been dormant since the 1990s.
The new Maestro line, with the unintentionally ironic name “The Maestro Original Collection,” includes five different pedals. All five feature three knobs, a mode toggle, and an on/off footswitch, and each one offers all-analog circuitry and true bypass.
The FZ-M is a fuzz pedal that Maestro says offers both an FZ-1-like sound and a fatter, more modern-sounding tone.
The Invader Distortion features Gain, Tone and Output Level controls and a noise gate that you can turn on and off with the mode switch.
The Comet Chorus uses analog bucket-brigade circuitry. It offers Depth, Mix and Speed knobs. Its modes include Earth, for a straight-ahead chorus sound, and Orbit, which adds amplitude modulation to create a rotating speaker sound.
The other two pedals are the Discover Delay, an analog bucket brigade-style effect with switchable modulation, and Ranger Overdrive, featuring high- and low-intensity modes.
I’ve had the pleasure to try those two out in the early stages of my testing for a review of the entire line, which will be in a future issue of Mix. My early impressions are positive.
The Discover Delay offers a warm analog tone for its delays. When I tried it for the first time, I found its tone beguiling and creatively inspiring. The pedal features Delay, Mix and Sustain (feedback) controls, and its mode switch activates modulation. You can adjust the modulation with two trim pots located inside the unit.
The Ranger Overdrive offers Gain, Tone and Level knobs, along with a Hi-Lo mode switch that lets you go from subtle crunch to heavy overdrive. On low settings, you can use it as a boost pedal. Its all-analog overdrive tone is warm and sounds like a tube amp that’s getting pushed. I could easily imagine it on my pedalboard.
Each of the five Maestro Original Collection pedals sells for $149, except for the Discoverer Delay, which is $159.