Experimenting with various guitar sounds by the way of effects pedals is essentially a rite of passage. But as any guitarist can tell you, picking up an assortment of stompboxes can be quite pricey. Even more so if you’re an inexperienced musician. After sinking $100 worth of hard-earned money into a pedal, you could end up getting frustrated by twisting more knobs than satisfying your desire for sonic perfection. Thankfully, Azor feels your pain and has your back with their line of mini guitar pedals!
As discussed in my first foray into the world budget effects, Azor goes above and beyond with their renditions of popular effects. I don’t care how long you’ve been playing or what style you play, you weren’t born knowing the difference between overdrive and distortion. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with buying up gear from the big boys like BOSS, MXR, or whomever, it’s nice to know you don’t necessarily have to spend so much money on stuff you may or may not even want on your pedalboard.
THAT IS, OF COURSE, ASSUMING YOU EVEN KNOW WHAT A PEDALBOARD IS!
The folks at Azor were kind enough to send me another package featuring a few more from their colorful line of effects. As stated in the first part of this series, each pedal is made surprisingly well. All steel casing, thick coats of paint, sturdy knobs and buttons, and even a stage-ready neon LED light to let you know when the pedal is active. These features in of themselves are more than most budget brands are willing to offer with their respective lines. Let’s see what this round has up its sleeve, shall we?
STRAIGHT OUT THE GATE, WE HAVE THE AP-317, A BRIGHT PURPLE TREMOLO PEDAL.
Back in the old days, tremolo was found on amplifiers and used quite a bit in 1950s rock n’ roll. One of my favorite examples of the effect is in Duane Eddy’s legendary “Rebel Rouser”. Capturing the effect in pedal form is not only way easier to switch the effect off and on but perfect for dialing in the desired speed and depth. At first glance with its bright purple color, I was thinking the AP-317 was emulating the now-discontinued Dunlop TS-1. But after experimenting with the wave, I’d say it’s probably closer to the Boss TR-2. The tone can go from deep breathing to a chaotic stutter with only 3 knobs, rate, depth, and wave.
If you want to rock out to The Smiths’ “How Soon Is Now?” or Green Day’s “Boulevard Of Broken Dreams”, the AP-317 has you covered! The best thing about the AP-317 is how well it emulates the Boss pedal at a fraction of the cost. Tremolo isn’t the kind of effect you use on every song so why give upwards of $100 when AZOR is asking under $25?
SPEAKING OF EFFECTS FROM YESTERYEAR, LET’S TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE AP-312 REVERB.
As the single most common guitar effect, it’s weird to think of how it essentially emulates the sound and size of the room. Are you in a damp, claustrophobic basement? A spacious church? Empty arena? Reverb is there to make your guitar sound like you’re hiding behind the drummer or playing live from God’s doorstep! My primary amp for the last 20 years is a Fender Twin so I’m a bit spoiled when it comes to reverb. If you’ve ever heard the glorious sound of a vintage spring, you already know what I’m talking about.
However, AZOR’s AP-312 is more than simple emulation. Despite being digital, the AP-312 offers a warm, tape-like sound. It can do the tastiest blues vibes, tight sounds, retro slap echo, and even ominous Black Sabbath doom and gloom. What I find it perfect for is weird ambient stuff. I can’t see myself ever buying a reverb pedal with my aforementioned Fender, but the AP-312 has convinced me I was wrong
WE CAN’T HAVE A DISCUSSION ABOUT PEDALS WITHOUT SOME DIRT, RIGHT? UP NEXT IS THE AP-302 DISTORTION.
Despite the thousands of distortion pedals on the market, there’s a small select few just about any professional guitarist will tell you belongs on every pedalboard. Among the aforementioned few, the ProCo RAT is likely the most common. James Hetfield, Kurt Cobain, Jeff Beck, David Gilmour, Peter Buck, Joe Perry, and the list goes on and on! The RAT is nothing short of rock n’ roll royalty so it was inevitable AZOR would offer their version.
With 3 simple controls, Level, Gain, and Tone, the AP-302 doesn’t mess around when it comes to dialing in your sound. Just like the RAT, they’re all pretty self-explanatory too. But the main reason why this circuit is held to the highest standard is its legendary sound. Thick and heavy to warm and crunchy, any and every distortion is satisfactory with the AP-302. But as an added bonus, AZOR has added a 3-way toggle switch at the top for even more diversity making it closer to the JHS modded version of the RAT. The natural position is the standard RAT. Tight has a bit more crunchiness and Classic adds some fuzz.
WITH SO MANY OPTIONS AND VARIATIONS OF ESSENTIAL EFFECTS, WHAT’S NOT TO LOVE ABOUT AZOR?
All 3 pedals featured in this article are under $25 each. You could literally buy a reverb, tremolo, and a modded distortion, and it would still be cheaper than buying a single pedal from a leading brand. Once again, I am in no way throwing shade at any of those brands. I have plenty of products from them and I will continue to support them in any way I can. But having the option to experiment with different sounds and tones at a fraction of the price is invaluable! If you’re looking to explore the world of guitar effects or just want an inexpensive good time with your guitar, check out what Azor is up to. Whether you’re picking out notes to your favorite record in your room or shaking the foundations in a sold-out arena, I’m willing to bet Azor has something for you!
For more information on Azor or to purchase their line of guitar pedals, please visit AzorPedal.com and Amazon
The video demonstrations in this article were created by the use of traditional means. No special effects or studio-quality audio effects. They were presented in their raw form to showcase the do-it-yourself mentality of amateur musicianship.