Pedal File

April 1, 2003

The Automagic Silver Machine ($360 retail/$298 street) is one wicked wah. Made in Germany, and distributed in the States by Godlyke, it incorporates some of the best innovations of recent top-shelf wahs while turning a few tricks of its own. First off, it is the most physically rugged wah I’ve encountered, with a heavy stainless-steel casing, studly switches, and chicken-head knobs. It feels great, too, with a smooth treadle action and a comfy, easy-to-regulate throw.

The wah tones are dramatic, versatile, and relatively noise-free. An Earth switch offers a choice of three frequency bands—207Hz-3.57kHz (vintage/nasal), 360Hz-3.57kHz (vintage/nasal), and 256Hz-1.75kHz (warm/throaty) —and a Quake control alters the bandwidth of the filter with four settings of escalating intensity. Combining the two controls serves up 12 sound configurations, and although the controls are not continuously variable, I was able to get every tone I wanted.

As with certain wahs from Dunlop, Morley, and others, the Automagic lets you summon the effect simply by stepping on the pedal. To return to bypass, you just lift your foot. Thanks to the Automagic’s smooth-sounding wah/non-wah transitions, it’s easy to drop in the effect for part of a phrase—or even use wah on/off as a rhythmic effect in its own right. Very cool.

The problem with pressure-activated wahs, however, is they make it difficult to leave the wah in a static engaged position, whether lingering on a sweet spot during a long sweep, or just parking the thing there ` la Michael Schenker. The Automagic’s crafty solution: a footswitch to toggle between pressure-activated and “always-on” modes.

Another hip feature is a mini-toggle to switch from classic and modern wah styles. In this case, modern signifies a blend of filtered and unfiltered signal, as opposed to the 100 percent filtered sound of, say, a vintage CryBaby. The blended tones retain much of the bite and expressivity of old-school wahs, but with added warmth and less of a tendency to thin out at high-frequency settings. You can also adjust the dry/filtered ratio via a trim-pot on the pedal’s underside. The Automagic requires a single 9v battery or AC adapter (not included).

—Joe Gore

Musician Sound Design, dist. by Godlyke Inc., (973) 777-7477 or 866-2-godlyke; godlyke.com.

   

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