Red Witch Seven Sisters Series

May 15, 2012

We met three of these cute little Red Witches back in our distortion pedal roundup in the February issue. The remaining siblings share the family resemblance that sparked the initial infatuation: compact footprints, sexy graphics, sweet tone, and—perhaps coolest of all—power courtesy of lithium ion batteries, which are not only rechargeable, but also cheaper and more eco-friendly in the long run. Although they do need to be unplugged when not in use (to preserve battery life), lining up these gals with low-profile patch cables and no power-adaptor spaghetti makes for the cleanest, neatest pedalboard I’ve ever seen. I auditioned these little minxes through a Rivera M-100 and a 65Amps London Pro with a Fender Strat and a Dean Cadillac (to impress the ladies).

Eve Tremolo

Eve ($129 street) is nice and classy with her simple Speed and Depth controls. She has no problem providing a range of classic tremolo effects, from pulsations to deep throbs. I got great swimmy surf tones on clean parts and psychedelic oscillations when driving a dirty amp. Eve is more sine than square wave, so even at the most extreme depth setting she doesn’t get into a stuttering, on/off trem sound. She definitely has a couple surprises in store, however. For starters, the Speed and Depth controls operate in reverse of what you might expect. Fully counterclockwise will give you the fastest and deepest effects. When queried on this, Red Witch CEO Ben Fulton replied, “That’s in keeping with several of our premium pedals. Dare to be different, I say.” Eve’s final little trick is only revealed if you look inside. She has a little trimpot to adjust overall gain on the right side of the circuit board. This is a key feature. Since trem is a subtractive effect by its nature, it’s easy to perceive a drop in level when you kick it in. I find tremolo to be cooler and simply more effective when it’s accompanied by a slight boost. I love Eve’s throatiness when she’s raising her voice a few dB, which is how the test unit arrived. It’s especially cool in front an overdriven amp.

Kudos Rich, sweet-sounding trem with optional boost.
Concerns None.

Grace Compressor

When asked about the birth of Grace ($129 street), Mr. Fulton had this to say: “Compressors are a bit of a dark art for a lot of guitarists, so the idea was a super simple circuit that delivered lovely squish right out of the box.” Well, he has accomplished that in fine fashion, because we were all quite smitten with Grace right away. The controls are totally straightforward—Vol and Comp— and the gratification is instant. Light settings provide a gentle thickening without sounding too, well, compressed. This was particularly nice on the Strat’s single-coils. Nudging the Volume control up shows how much output this pedal packs. She’s capable of a good boost even at low Comp settings. Running the Comp knob up pours on the sustain, but not at the expense of attack. As with any compressor, Grace can be noisy when maxed out, but this is a very quiet compressor. I’m generally not a compressor guy, but I could definitely envision a rig where I left Grace on all the time. Well played!

Kudos Musical, quiet compression with impressive attack, sustain, and noise specs.
Concerns None.

Lily Boost

The lovely little Lily Boost ($129 street) is marketed as a clean boost. This is true, because Lily can add a nice level bump to your guitar sound without overly coloring the tone, and she also converts the guitar’s signal from high impedance to low impedance, making signal degradation and highend loss from long cable runs a thing of the past. But Lily is also capable of getting dirty in a couple of different ways. First, she’s got both Pre and Post controls, with the Pre knob governing the actual gain of the FET—how much it’s amplifying the signal—and the Post determining how much of this boosted signal exits the pedal. The Pre control needs to be up fairly high to get above unity, even with Post cranked. The greatest amount of level boost—and it is substantial—comes in the last 10% of the Pre knob’s rotation. There is a pronounced crackle that occurs in this range when you turn the knob, which is due to the potentiometer adjusting DC bias and is normal. (“No need to reach for the contact cleaner,” says Fulton.) Maxing out the Pre knob definitely creates some distortion and grind, regardless of where the Post knob is set. When you couple that with additional amp gain from clobbering the front end, you can have tons of crunch at your disposal through pretty much any amp.

Kudos Lots of output on tap.
Concerns None.

Violet Delay

Our final sister, Violet ($129 street), is a woman of mystery. How can a delay pedal only have two knobs? With just Repeat and Delay, how can I adjust my mix? Fear not. Violet has a trimpot nestled in her nether regions that allows the user to adjust the wet/dry mix. Violet comes from the factory set at 40% wet/60% dry, which is a very musical blend. The overall tone of the pedal is full and satisfying, adding shimmer and depth to arpeggios and a singing quality to lead lines. According to Red Witch, the repeats go through an analog treble rolloff circuit but to my ears this is a very accurate delay; the echoes don’t have a dark, lo-fi quality. Curiously, the minimum number of repeats at the factory mix is about six. In order to get a single repeat you have to turn down the wet/dry ratio so you can’t hear the subsequent repeats. That won’t give you a Setzer-approved slapback, so if that’s your game, Violet isn’t your dame. For any other echo effects, including a great space-age, self-oscillating infinite repeat, she’s a beauty.

Kudos Sweet delay textures.
Concerns Compact feature set makes certain settings difficult.

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