Speed Rating October 2013: Four mini gear reviews

It seems both manufacturers and DIY nuts are always trying to build a better bizarro device that lets guitarists turn stompbox knobs with a foot.
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$7.50 street
It seems both manufacturers and DIY nuts are always trying to build a better bizarro device that lets guitarists turn stompbox knobs with a foot. The KickDisk—one of my off-the-beaten-path “finds” at summer NAMM—is actually a very reasonable and functional tool. Its serrated edge “grabs” shoe and boot soles securely, the clear disk doesn’t obscure pedal settings, a black line lets you monitor knob position, and the flexible stem lets you bend the KickDisk as needed to depress a pedal’s on/off or tap/tempo switches. If you get a bit excitable on stage or have issues with clumsiness, however, it’s very easy to knock the KickDisk right off the control knob— although you’ll be hard-pressed to smash up the disk’s “airplane grade” plastic. I tried and failed. kickdisk.com —MICHAEL MOLENDA

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$99 direct

Aside from the obvious eye-catching design, durability and comfort are key components of Capturing Couture’s Organza Series guitar straps. The 2”-wide strap (adjustable from 45” to 60” long) includes a plush velvet exterior over tough nylon webbing, a neoprene shoulder pad, and embossed leather ends. I tested the Red Organza strap on stage, and it was comfortable to wear throughout even my longest sets. I also had many double takes from the audience, who were dazzled by the bright-red floral arrangement cascading down to my guitar. Capturing Couture is staying power plus eye candy. Win-win! capturingcouture.com —KATIE GARIBALDI

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$15 street

Ya gotta love butt-simple solutions to critical needs, and the Humitar offers an easy and elegant way to keep the wood on your treasured acoustic guitars from drying out and cracking. Simply wet the reusable sponge with distilled water, pop it into the casing, and then hang the slim blue box between the third and fourth strings. When the sponge goes dry, it’s time to wet it down again. The Humitar works whether you store your guitar in a hard case, gig bag, or out on a stand. The climate is pretty mild here at GP Central in Northern California, but if you live in a dry area, $15 is a small price to pay for moisturizing and protecting your wood. musicnomadcare.com —MICHAEL MOLENDA

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$189 street

Housed in a steel casing and sporting either a black or red finish, the VM-Pro volume pedal features a high-end buffer/line driver for maintaining signal integrity, selectable output impedance for matching the inputs of some vintage fuzz pedals, an active/passive pickup switch, and a Sparkle switch that restores brightness as you back off the volume. There’s also an isolated tuner output (to avoid tone sucking), but you’ll need an optional adapter to access it. Power is via a 9-volt battery or 9-18-volt external supply. The VM-Pro is dead quiet, the ramp up to full volume is super-smooth, and there’s just the right amount of attack and rocker travel for optimal “bowing” effects. The three internal micro-switches performed as intended. Nicely done! (A “PZ” piezo version is also available.)missionengineering.com —BARRY CLEVELAND

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