In October of 2016 TC Electronic announced their unofficially named “Smorgasbord of Tone” line of pedals.  The line features 13 pedals that cover a wide range of classic effects in a simple and effective meat and potatoes sort of way, all for only $50 each. We contacted TC Electronic and offered to demo the whole line up and they were very generous to take us up on the offer. This is our post demo review of the entire line.

The Line as a Whole

I’m a big fan of the case design. It’s severely sturdy and leaves plenty of room for adventurous modding types to get into the guts of the pedals. The case is slightly bigger than your standard BOSS pedal in length and width, but top mounted jacks mean that there might be space saving opportunities on many boards when these pedals are placed next to other top jack pedals.

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I also really like the giant knobs they used on these pedals. They are perfect for foot tweaking, while all the pots are smooth and firm enough to avoid accidental adjustments. The only quirk in the line’s design is that the true bypass switch engages the pedal when you release the switch, not when you initially press the switch. This might bother some players but has no effect on my playing because I don’t hold the switch with my foot after I engage pedals. I also have to wonder why there isn’t a tremolo in the line. A simple $50 tremolo would really round out the whole collection.

 

All the pedals! One by one!

Rusty Fuzz

I’m a big fan of the Rusty Fuzz. It provides a powerful range of Velcro-ripping and heavy-Muff flavored tones.

Who should buy it:

Fuzz junkies who need their fix and anyone shopping for their first fuzz.

Who shouldn’t buy it:

People who hate fuzz (I know it sounds crazy but people like that exist).

Tailspin Vibrato

I’m not a huge vibrato user, but I’ve been finding myself really enjoying this one for live playing. It’s silky smooth and has a nice range of subtle to full-on weirdo settings.

Who should buy it:

Anyone who is vibrato curious. It’s a great introduction to vibrato and a workhorse for anyone needing a simple vibe pedal that sounds great.

Who shouldn’t buy it:

If you are looking for a faithful reproduction of a classic vibe sound this probably wont satisfy you. I honestly prefer the Tailspin to many of the classic vibes though. Use your ears, figure out what you want.

Rush Booster

The Rush is a fully functional boost pedal. As far as I can tell, it doesn’t color your tone and it is more that capable of pushing your amp into tube distortion. That doesn’t mean that it should exist, though. These days there are piles of boosts available in a similar price range and in much much smaller cases. You can pick up TC Electronics own Spark Mini Booster for the same price.

Who should buy it:

If you need a boost in a pinch and a Rush Booster is available, go for it! If you want a big box to build a project into or you just want to experiment with modding a boost this might be a good project starter.

Who shouldn’t buy it:

Anyone with internet access who can wait for a smaller $50 boost to be shipped to them.

The Prophet Digital Delay

The Prophet is a standard sounding digital delay with a really long delay time. For $50 you can’t go wrong for just a digital delay but The Prophet has some incredible noise making tricks up its sleeve. Check out the demo to hear what I’m talking about.

Who should buy it:

Experimental noise making types who want a massive wall of fantastic noise, and anyone needing a simple and affordable digital delay.

Who shouldn’t buy it:

Players who need tap tempo or other deeper delay tweaking options.

FANGS Metal Distortion

To my ear the FANGS sounds much more classic and pleasant than the notorious BOSS Metal Zone and many of the other “metal” pedals that came out of 90’s and early 2000’s. Personal preference goes a long way though and many opinionated head bangers have made comments otherwise. Still, I like the FAT setting and I think it’s a fun pedal for $50.

Who should buy it:

Teenagers buying their first distortion pedal, skip the Metal Zone and buy a FANGS.

Who shouldn’t buy it:

Jazz guitarists?

Skysurfer Reverb

I’m a bit of a reverb snob, so when TC Electronics marketing copy claimed that the Skysurfer could provide Dick Dale style reverb they had my attention. Unfortunately it fails to deliver on that front. However, it does provide some very nice sounding short to medium length reverb trails and it’s only $50. Still I’d probably recommend that most players save up their allowance and buy a TC Hall of Fame Reverb instead. You will get much more versatile reverb pedal with a smaller footprint.

Who should buy it:

Players who want a simple short to medium trail reverb. Works well with blues and rockabilly applications.

Who shouldn’t buy it:

Surf guitarists and ambient guitarists.

Cinders Overdrive

I’m very surprised that TC didn’t opt for a Tube Screamer variant as the OD option in this line. A smooth and mellow overdrive would have been a nice balance against the high gain distortions of the Grand Magus and the FANGS. Instead they gave us Cinders, which has and incredible range of gain levels from light and sparkly to massively heavy near fuzz distortion. My biggest problem with it is just how bright it is. I love bright signals, but it’s so bright I couldn’t demo it with a Telecaster bridge pickup.

Who should buy it:

Players who want a bright OD with loose grit and any amount of drive imaginable.

Who shouldn’t buy it:

Players who want a mid hump voiced smooth overdrive.

Thunderstorm Flanger

If you are flanger curious the Thunderstorm will get you there and then some. I can fully recommend  the Thunderstorm as an alternative to any other flanger on the market with standard controls.

Who should buy it:

Any players who are flanger curious.

Who shouldn’t buy it:

People who hate flanger.

Grand Magus Distortion

I think this one sounds great. My only hang up is that $50 is already a pretty standard price for many classic distortions. I think out of the box the Grand Magus is much better sounding than the notorious BOSS DS-1 and its a good stand in for a RAT style distortion without actually being a RAT.

Who should buy it:

Teenagers buying their first distortion and experienced players looking for a RAT alternative.

Who shouldn’t buy it:

People who are already happy with distortion pedals they already own.

Echobrain Analog Delay

This is a great sounding analog delay, though it’s biggest downside is how short the repeats are. If you don’t need super long repeats and you want to make fantastic spaceship noises for $50, I can confidently recommend the Echobrain.

Who should buy it:

Players needing a short and warm echo that can max out into oscillating weirdness.

Who shouldn’t buy it:

Fancy folks who want super long delays with tap tempos and other bells and whistles. It’s a $50 dollar pedal! What were you expecting?!?!?!?

Afterglow Chorus

Sounds like chorus to me! Simple to use and sounds classic in all the right ways.

Who should buy it:

Players wanting a simple chorus that gets you there without a big investment.

Who shouldn’t buy it:

People needing all the bells and whistles of modern tweaked out effect boxes.

Blood Moon Phaser

I’ve never been a big phaser user, but if you want to sound like Van Halen you need one. Many classic phasers only have one control. This one has 3. That’s like 300% more control!

Who should buy it:

Anyone wanting a phaser without having to think about it too hard.

Who shouldn’t buy it:

Folks who have a very, very specific phaser sound in mind and this just doesn’t do it.

Forcefield Compressor

Compression is an effect that I just don’t use often, but when I do I like it to be simple and conservative. The Forcefield can do simple and conservative and it can deliver extreme settings as well. I know people who care about compressors can get very particular so listen to the demo and form your own opinions. For $50 id recommend this as a first compressor for any player.

Who should buy it:

Players who are compressor curious, but don’t want to break the bank.

Who shouldn’t buy it:

If you are a comp connoisseur I’m guessing this wont do it for you, but maybe that guess is wrong?