Gye Greene's Thoughts

Gye Greene's Thoughts (w/ apologies to The Smithereens and their similarly-titled album!)

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Walco effects pedals or effects units

Sorry -- I haven't posted a blog entry for a while.  I actually have a few remedial ones that I've been planning on posting:  I just haven't had the time.  Well, first my PC died, and it took me a few weeks to get a new (used!) one and install Mint Linux on it.


I've been going through some of my music gear that I bought while living in Seattle -- placed in boxes prior to moving to Australia -- and literally have not been used in over a decade.  I've been putting a few things on Gumtree (the Australian analog to CraigsList) as a result.

One of the oddities that I turned up is a complete set of the eight little guitar effects units put out by Walco.  So I put them on Gumtree as a bulk set.

But then I thought that as part of my ad, I should link to some online sound samples -- maybe a YouTube video?  Oddly, I couldn't find any on YouTube.

So:  as a service to the online guitar community, I played through each of the eight effects units, and am now in the process of posting the results to YouTube.  Just search for "Walco - Effects" and they should come up.

Some thoughts on the series: 

I bought these in the late '90s as "New Old Stock", while living in Seattle. Some I took out of the packaging and had a play; others (two of them) were(!!!) still unopened in their original packaging -- until about a week ago.

That is:  until a week ago, I hadn't used them since I bought them. I've gone away from musical devices that **don't** allow A/C power and only run off of batteries -- so I'm unlikely to make use of these. So I'm putting them back in the ocean (i.e. selling them).

I'll try to make the following descriptions more or less align with their ordering in the photo (note the piano keyboard, as a scale reference [no pun intended]). I'll group my descriptions by form factor.


-BASS-TREBLE EXPANDER (blue pedal) -- A bass booster or treble booster. Has an "On/Off" slider switch, a slider switch that allows for a bass boost, or a treble boost, and a knob for the amount of boost. I accidentally found a YouTube clip here -- .  The treble booster is piercing; the bass boost is more like an octave pedal.  As you can see from the photos (below), you choose either treble or bass boost -- not both at once.

-SOUND-GO-ROUND (bright green) - Tremelo. The On/Off slider switch was broken, so I removed it and bypassed it -- so now it's always on (you could bypass it with a loop pedal). You could probably replace it with another switch -- or mod it with a footswtich-style pedal. Has a knob to control the speed.

-FUZZ TONE GENERATOR (pink) - Fuzz. An On/Off slider switch, and a knob for the amount of fuzz.


-AUTOMATIC LEVEL CONTROL (dark green) -- A limiter?  Had to tell, exactly. On/Off slider switch,and a knob to set the output level.

-SIGNAL BOOSTER (orange) (New In Box) -- Boost pedal, presumably --- except my version doesn't (it just chokes the sound, really). On/Off slider switch, a slider switch for the polarity of the unit (i.e. does the tip go into your instrument, or into your amp?), and a knob for the degree of boost.

-ACOUSTIC FEEDBACK ELIMINATOR (Yellow) -- It's some sort of gate -- like a noise gate... -ish.  The text on the back of the packing implies an expander noise gate -- but they don't use those words. A slider knob for On/Off, and a "Attack control" knob.  It also overdrove the input to my amp, due to all the make-up gain.  Or maybe it was internally overloading, due to low headroom or a design error in the gain-staging.  Overall, mildly peculiar.


-ACCU-TUNER (red) - Electronic tuning fork. Slider switch between generating an A-440Hz output tone, or an E-349.23Hz tone. No input, just the output plug.  Gives a steady tone.  If the slider switch was replaced with a better switch (a toggle switch?), you could possibly do something interesting with this -- like use it as a drone for a song in the key of E or A.


-"CHORD AND NOTE SUSTAINER" (brown pedal) -- From memory, like an over-exuberant compressor (see the YouTube video).  Useful for creating feedback but with the maximum volume still being mild.  No actual controls except the "On/Off" foot button.

None of them run off A/C adaptors: you have to use 9V batteries.

My web search indicates that they largely fall into the "So bad they're good" (or "So bad they're only bad?") category. Maybe for a hard core guitar effects pedal collector? Or for someone who wants trashy, low-fi sounds.

As I mentioned, I tried all of them -- including (somewhat reluctantly; but "for the good of science") taking out the two "New In Box" units.

Surprisingly, a few were actually good -- and most were... "interesting".

I wouldn't take them gigging or for live performance, because they're too unreliable (esp. the switches).  But they might have some studio/recording uses.  If you used them regularly, I'd suggest removing the slider switches and replacing them with more robust toggle switches.  And possibly getting an A/C adaptor -- although some people think that running small effects boxes off of wall current can introduce noise into the signal chain.

Here are two forums that make a brief mention of Walco effects units (I'm sure there are others):

I agree with the assessment in the first link, in that the Chord and Note Sustainer is interesting and potentially usable.  The guy also like dthe Signal Booster (if he recalls correctly) -- but mine was not terribly useful (as noted in the YouTube video):  the "boost" was only up to the input level, and it added a lot of dropouts -- but not in an interesting "glitchy" way.  (Hard to explain; just see the YouTube video, once I post it.)

A second poster in the first link also says that the Sound-Go-Round sucks; I disagree.  The second poster also says the she/he got the boost, which didn't work even though it was new out of the box:  that's more similar to my own experience.

And etcetera.  Just take a look at both of those threads.   ;)

Finally:  I'm going to post some pics of all of the pedals.  Since this is somewhat for archival/public service purposes, I'm going to leave them at full (cheap cell-phone!) resolution:  so about 400kB, not 50-ish kB.

Anyhow:  by the time you read this, these probably will be sold to the four winds.


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