EQ can do a lot for your tone, but when you consider applying EQ in a dynamic sense you then enter a different realm. With Q you can set the Treble and Bass (two knobs), but then fluctuate the Midrange mix (via the pedal’s treadle).
The pedal’s three bands are centered on the note C in 3 different registers (to match the musical note and equivalent frequencies) for the following combinations: 65.41 Hz (C2 bass knob), 523.25 Hz (C5 midrange treadle) and 2.093 kHz (C7 treble knob). You can achieve a wide array of tone changes so that as you work the pedal it can mimic a phaser or wah (although not sounding like a traditional wah), or can be used as a volume pedal (but not in the traditional sense either, since you’re not cutting volume completely). With the treadle parked toe down Q also works very well as a boost. Overall, the EQ transitions are smooth and the engagement (clicking on the toe switch) is 99% quiet (you hear a change in signal output or tone while playing, but no loud clicking or popping). The demo included with this review demonstrates the various uses and sounds with both clean and dirty amp channels. Clean channels can sound very modest and smooth (depending on how clean it is), whereas there’s definitely aggressiveness with a dirty channel –similar to a wah, phaser, etc., in that the character of the pedal becomes more apparent between clean versus dirty.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: Handmade in Greenwood Lake, NY, Q retails for $225 USD. Its price is fairly standard for a quality pedal, but what it offers is a completely unique perspective on modulation and tone through its dynamic EQ possibilities. Not only can you add dimension by altering the midrange of your tone on the fly, but each band (Treble, Mid and Bass) has a 20dB cut/boost, thus allowing volume swells when desired, but also boosting of the signal while being able to sculpt the tone. The huge headroom of Q is the result of the same internal voltage tripler found in the Edison Preamp (also by Night Owl Industries), which gives you a lot of boost without overloading the signal (at least if placed last in the signal chain). Since the sound from Q isn’t cutting or narrow like a wah, you get a more organic scooped sound when jacking the bass and treble, or you can cut the bass and treble for some great lo-fi tones. Q also is fantastic as a basic boost pedal for lead playing and for adding swells and character while working the midrange via the treadle. Unlike a wah pedal, you can keep Q turned on and it sounds natural, since it’s an EQ pedal and the three bands can be matched ideally to your desired tone.
GENERAL USE: Q allows you to sculpt your tone in real time (although the pedal can be parked without EQ sweeping) while playing guitar, bass or keyboards. The demo outlines some possibilities, but I bet there are several more. With toe down and the Treble and Bass dialed back (or turned off completely) you can achieve a very authentic lo-fi sound. Again with toe down, you can adjust the Treble or Bass to sculpt your tone, but also act as a boost (since there is a 20dB cut or boost with either the Treble or Bass). The real fun begins when you manipulate the treadle, which either cuts or boosts the Midrange by 20dB. This is where you get some interesting tone variations that seem to mimic a volume pedal and/or a phaser and/or a wah – depending how you use it. Get enough Treble and Bass in the mix and hear some very intense growls (without that shrill typically heard in wahs). When working the treadle in the front half of the range the mid scooping is not as intense, and doing so makes for a very good subtle wah-type effect. And whether working in broad or narrow sweeps, I find Q to work exceptionally well as a tremolo or Univibe – but what makes Q special is that you can control how fast or slow you want the tremolo/vibe without having to bend down and adjust any knobs like you would with a typical tremolo… you control the rate or speed with your foot so that you can have slow mixed with fast, etc. Placement is important, as often a volume or wah is at the beginning of the chain; but with this being an EQ pedal with 3-times the headroom of typical 9V pedals, your signal can be overdriven too hard if placed at the front end. Rather, place Q at the end of the signal chain (unless you want to overdrive earlier effects), viz., after distortions, delays, reverbs, etc.
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