British boutique effects manufacturer Origin Effects has launched a pair of new compressor pedals that redefine the levels of audio quality and performance available from a stompbox. Based on the musical sound and dynamic response of the UREI 1176 – the legendary FET compressor first introduced to recording studios in the late 60s and heard on countless records since – the Cali76 and SlideRig put studio-grade compression within reach of the average guitarist, in a pedalboard-friendly format and powered by a 9V cell.
Living up to the Origin Effects motto – "purity of tone" – these pedals feature a fully Class-A discrete signal path, with old-fashioned, high-end circuit design ensuring incredibly low noise and the widest possible frequency bandwidth. The end result is a full low end, sparkling highs and wonderfully transparent compression, with a bright, clean attack and tons of natural-sounding sustain.
While the Cali76 offers the full complement of studio compressor controls, including ratio, attack and release knobs plus a VU-style gain reduction meter, the unique SlideRig features two FET compressors chained together in one pedal for even more sustain and sensitivity. Both pedals – which feature bespoke enclosures and are 100% made in the UK – are available now direct from www.origineffects.com priced £229/$299 each.
Origin Effects founder Simon Keats – an electronic engineer and analogue circuit designer who has worked for the likes of Vox, Focusrite and Trident Audio – explains how the Cali76 came about:
"The Cali76 was designed to get that musical UREI 1176 tone into the hands of guitarists. The 1176 just sounds so much better than the pedals most guitarists are used to, but of course the price is prohibitive, as is transporting a large rack unit around with you! So I stripped out the parts of the design that weren't directly contributing to the tone and then optimised the circuit for battery operation. I'm used to building high-end, custom studio equipment and I wanted this pedal to be the same – sturdy and reliable, with wide-bandwidth, low-noise, Class-A circuitry throughout and no ICs in the signal path."
Meanwhile, the unique SlideRig pedal was inspired by Lowell George's timeless slide guitar tones on the Little Feat album Dixie Chicken. These were recorded using two UREI 1176s chained together in front of the amp, creating a sound that's almost completely clean yet delivers incredible sustain.
"The SlideRig is something I selfishly designed for myself because I wanted to get that Little Feat sound!" Keats confesses. "It's essentially two Cali76s in one box, without the metering and with the attack and release controls moved inside. Chained together, you get almost endless sustain and the guitar becomes super-sensitive."
Keats sent the very first pedal he completed to Little Feat guitarist Paul Barrere, who immediately made SlideRig #001 part of his live and studio setup. "The SlideRig is unbelievable," says Barrere. "It's so clean! I've used it on the newest Little Feat recording and it's remarkable how quiet it is. And having two settings makes it perfect for live shows as you can step it up for soloing."
Other pro players who have already embraced the Cali76 and SlideRig include Ben Lloyd and Tarrant Anderson (guitar and bass, Frank Turner Band), slide virtuoso Michael Messer, guitarist and producer Paul Stacey (Oasis, Black Crowes) and steel guitarist Joshua Grange (kd lang).
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