Most effects pedals distort, delay, pitch shift, or modulate a guitar's tone in an entirely predictable manner. The Feral Glitch's randomized stutter effect breaks this trend of predictability by introducing an element of chance. It takes a stutter effect – already rare in the pedal world – and randomly varies its length each time it is activated. This pedal offers not only this rare, musically random effect, but also a more conventional mode which can sync stutter effects to a particular tempo – or even function as a quirky looper.
To be clear, the Feral Glitch is a small project. There are no plans for further sales of the Feral Glitch. Once this limited run of 25 pedals sell out, it will not go into larger production, nor will it be available through The King of Gear.
Five years ago, I established The King of Gear to create an encyclopedia of the gear used by the band Radiohead, and to give fans a better understanding of how the band crafted the unique and innovative sounds heard throughout their discography. Since then, I've answered hundreds of questions about the band's gear, ranging from Thom's vintage guitars to Nigel's mic'ing techniques, but easily the most asked was "how do I recreate Jonny Greenwood's random stutter Max/MSP patch with guitar effects pedals?"
For a long time, the answer was always that there were no available pedals which duplicated the effect – particularly its randomness – and the best that one could do would be to use loopers or tremolos. The randomized glitch effect is easy enough to program if you purchased expensive software and learned how to use it, but it subsequently required a computer and audio interface to use. For the average gigging musician without a crew to carry their equipment, this simply wasn't doable for live performance. I've played many gigs where I wished I could use this effect during part of the song, but didn't have that capacity. The 'Feral Glitch' was conceptualized to fill this niche. It offers that distinctive random stutter effect which has previously only been feasible via complex computer software. It sounds a bit cheesy, but with this pedal I really built the one that I had dreamed of for years.
At this moment, the 'Feral Glitch' pedal is fully designed, tested, and ready for production. The purpose of this Kickstarter is to raise the funds necessary to fund a small run of these pedals. The run is limited to 25 units, few enough to ensure that all backers will receive their pedals in an efficient manner.
The ‘Feral Glitch’ is a stutter effect pedal designed primarily to create eclectic and aggressive glitch sounds. It sounds best when used in conjunction with overdrive or distortion, especially as the inherent compression of overdrive causes the “clicks” to sound closer to the transients of percussive sounds, resulting in particularly forceful glitching. The ‘Feral Glitch’ can also be used as a very short looper, but it shines in the creation of aggressive glitch.
"Mode" Toggle Switch: Selects between Random and Fixed Modes.
"Dry-Kill" Toggle Switch: Selects whether dry signal is muted when stutter effect is activated.
"Effect Time" Knob: In fixed mode, sets stutter length, from a extremely short to nearly one second. In random mode, sets maximum possible stutter length.
"Effect Volume" Knob: Sets the volume of the stutter effect. The volume of the dry signal is fixed.
Bypass Footswitch: True-bypass footswitch, entirely removes the effect from your signal path.
Effect Engage Footswitch: When pedal isn't bypassed, activates the stutter effect for as long as it is depressed. Depending on setting of the "Dry-Kill" switch, it may or may not mute your dry signal when depressed.
The 'Feral Glitch' has two modes of operation, selected by one of the two-way toggle switches at the top of the pedal.
“Random” Mode: The primary mode is the "random" one. In random mode, the right (momentary) footswitch causes the pedal to immediately begin playing back a short segment of audio with a randomly assigned length. This length is reset to a new random value each time the footswitch is pressed. The segment of audio is played back for as long as you hold down the footswitch, and stops when the footswitch is released.
The left “time” knob sets the maximum length of the fragment, so the potential lengths can be reduced to the desired range. Setting the knob to allow longer clip lengths will support eclectic solos similar to Greenwood’s, while limiting the randomness to shorter clip lengths will provide more ‘frenzied’ glitch sounds. The right “volume” knob sets the volume of the looped clip, which goes from a hefty boost to silence. The right toggle switch selects whether the dry signal is muted or passed through while the effect is active. Muting the dry signal will provide an effect like Greenwood’s, while leaving it audible allows you to keep playing while the clip is looping.
“Fixed” Mode: Second is the "fixed" mode. In this mode, the length of the looped audio clip is a fixed value set by the right “time” knob. All other knobs and switches function as in the primary mode. This mode allows you to sync your glitches with the tempo of a song. As an added bonus, this mode can also function as a very quirky looper with a maximum loop time of 1 second. This can be great for creating looped background textures, as shown in the second half of the demonstration video.
Filter: In addition to the main controls, there is also an analog high-pass filter which can be applied to the wet signal. The filter’s cutoff is adjusted with an internal trim-pot, with no filtering applied when at its minimum. The pedal's glitch effect can sound muddy with a bass-heavy signal, but removing some bass frequencies clears things up. The filter is also useful for making the effect signal a little more distinctive in comparison to the dry signal.
Killswitch: When the right toggle switch is in the left position, depressing the right footswitch mutes your dry signal. If the effect level is set to zero, a hidden bonus is that it can be used as a momentary killswitch – much easier than modding your guitar for one!
Bypass: The pedal is True Bypass, meaning that when bypassed using the left footswitch, your instrument’s dry signal passes through the pedal entirely untouched. When activated, your instrument’s dry signal passes through a fully-analog signal path, consisting of a quality buffer. If you like, you can leave the pedal active at all times to use it as a buffer for your signal chain. The upper blue LED indicates that your signal is passing into the pedal, which the lower orange LED indicates when the effect is being produced.
Jacks and Power: Audio and power jacks are top mounted. The pedal runs on a standard +9V adaptor.
Risks and challenges
The pedal is fully designed with functional prototypes. It is ready for production, which can begin immediately if funded successfully. This run of pedals is limited to few enough that it can be finished in a couple of small batches, so there is no risk of production overload.
All components are available from standard retailers, so there should be no risk of delay in their acquisition. The code for the digital portion of the chip has been fully programmed.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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