A Closer Look: Gamechanger Audio
Published on 19 March 2020
In the world of effects, it’s hard to be truly unique.
Lord knows we love pedals, but even we get fatigue at the number of boutique copycat stomp-boxes that do the rounds. They all claim to bring that classic, much sought-after overdrive/fuzz/boost/whatever, and it can all get a bit much. Some of them are truly great, but after a while you tend to feel like you’ve heard a lot of it before.
It’s like visiting the Louvre in Paris and being faced with endless masterpiece after masterpiece, until you realise you’re numb to it all, as you appraise the Mona Lisa with your most unimpressed face.
It’s not the worst thing ever, for sure, but it is bizarre, and it does happen! Ennui is a strange feeling...
Some musicians get to the point where they choose their pedals based on how much they like the graphic on the chassis. They already know the pedal will sound good, in one of three universal ‘flavours’. Whilst we empathise, we maybe wouldn’t go quite that far. Having said that, when we do get something original in, it gets us all quite unreasonably excited. When we get genuinely innovative devices arriving, it breathes new life, new fun and new possibilities into our playing. What could be better?
Such a pedal came in recently. Two, in fact, both from Gamechanger Audio, a new brand on the street. Gamechanger Audio have been around for less than five years, and their first product – one of the two pedals we’re checking out today – came on to the market first as a successful crowdfunded campaign. After this success, the company moved ahead into full production and followed their initial pedal with a second.
We are excited, because these genuinely bring something different to not only our palette of sounds, but to how we approach playing the instrument.
So, what are these pedals?
Let’s check them out...
Gamechanger Plus Pedal
Yes, it does look like a piano sustain pedal! You’d actually be steering close to the truth here: the aim of the Plus pedal is to provide an intuitive layer of sustain to whatever you’re playing, be it single notes, drones or even full chords. The Plus pedal preserves the integrity of your original sound and lets you freely play over the top, creating all kinds of expressive soundscapes, all made entirely by your own guitar playing.
You can really go to town with this pedal: it can become an integral part of how you play, and it can be an influence on your composition and writing style. In terms of an ‘ambience in a Rock band’ type of situation, there isn’t anything out there that can match this. Gamechanger talk about this as being a ‘smart looper’ and whilst we don’t necessarily see it that way, we think it’ll earn its place alongside many a looper on the pedal boards of more adventurous guitarists.
So, what does it do again? Well, you play a note, depress the piano-style pedal (different levels of pressure do make a difference) and enjoy a layer of sustain that can last as long as you like. The pedal is constantly ‘micro-sampling’ your signal, so there is a real-time, changeable quality to it that no other pedal currently has. You have controls to determine rise, sustain and tail, meaning your sounds can fade in and out! Production values! It can also be situated happily within an FX loop, meaning it can affect your effects (if you follow!) and leave your main sound alone.
We like how well this pedal has been thought out. We love how it works its way into our playing, though! It encourages more artful, considered playing, whilst also adding a high dose of fun to the mix! The best thing to do is come in and try one for yourself: only by playing with one can you truly ‘get it’. We get it!
Gamechanger Plasma Pedal
Any time a pedal maker mentions the name ‘Nicola Tesla’ along with the term ‘distortion pedal’, we tend to pay more attention than usual. Gamechanger, having wowed us with their Plus pedal, now zap us like Emperor Palpatine with this literal live wire of a gain pedal.
You may have seen a video of this: a purple, high voltage streak of lightning roars inside the pedal every time a note is played. You can see it via a display in the centre and yes, it doesn’t get much more dramatic than that! But does it have anything at all to do with the sound?
As it happens, yes it does.
Where most overdrive and distortion pedals use a transistor to get their sound happening (some use LEDs and others use valves, too), the Gamechanger Plasma fires your guitar’s signal through a tube filled with active xenon, as a blast of pure voltage! Yes, it does look cool when you see the purple sci-fi zap of the charge through the tube, it’s very cool indeed! But sonically, it brings a very interesting and effective tone to your arsenal. The Plasma has a ferocious sound that sits somewhere between a high gain distortion and a fuzz. There are thick, square overtones, a fuzzy edge, but overall there is a fantastic sense of response available here.
We are used to having our high gain/fuzz sounds being super-compressed, and weirdly, the Gamechanger Plasma both is and isn’t! It’s difficult to explain, but you can express a degree of dynamic here whilst always sounding properly heavy. This quality changes up how you approach your playing, and encourages some great choppy, stop/start riffs as well as more luxurious, sustaining tones, all just by how you play and how you adjust the controls.
We think the Gamechanger Plasma is one of those pedals that gives you a fresh, extra flavour in addition to your other drive pedals. We don’t think you should replace anything on your board: we think you should get a bigger board, because you’ll want your favourite overdrive pedal, high gain pedal, AND the Plasma!
It seems that Gamechanger Audio, as a company, live up to their name. We were somewhat sceptical at first, but simply sitting down and playing with both pedals has left us hooked. These are modern, contemporary effects for the creative, adventurous player who wants to cultivate his own sound. Yes, you can probably still mimic lots of famous tones and so on, but that’s not really in line with the thinking of Gamechanger themselves: they have created these pedals in order for you to sound more like you. What can be better than that? Everyone plays differently, and that’s amazing. Prepare to explore your own musical avenues more than ever with the Gamechanger Audio Plus and Plasma pedals.
Check out our Gamechanger pedals here on the site.