DistautowahOn the occasion of our recently published Palmer Mutterstolz distortion pedal review, your favorite website decided to revisit some of the German brand's Root Effects, and here we review Automat, an analog distortion/auto-wah that saw the light of day in February 2012. Read more…
If you like autowah pedals, you’re going to like the Automat… it also has Distortion! Palmer’s Automat produces sounds that can be very subtle and snappy, and as clean as you want them, or very heavy and almost growling. The YouTube video below explores some of the possible settings of the Automat, while trying to demonstrate sounds different from other YouTube videos on this product (other videos tend to apply the Automat in more of a funky-wah style, whereas this video considered Automat’s use with heavier riffs and some higher-gain or rock settings):
It’s difficult to demonstrate the sounds of the Automat beyond the video, since there are so many possibilities of tone based on how much Drive or Gain you use, if you’re using a Low Pass, Band Pass (flat) or High Pass filter, etc. In some instances I could mix in just enough of the wah effect to be barely perceivable (a slight fattening of the tone), whereas in other settings, particularly with a lot of ‘Wet’ and the Drive knob set around 11 o’clock you get some very obvious honking and deep wahs that almost seem too much (but not really!). Something else nice about this pedal is that it is quiet, even when you fully crank the Gain knob.
Most autowah type pedal effects usually are just that. The Palmer Automat included a Gain which really adds to its use. Moreover, along with all the other functions you are able to craft and develop a host of possible sounds and tones, making it a very diverse pedal. The Tone knob has an exceptional range of low to high and works very well with the filter knob (Low Pass, Band Pass and High Pass). The Low pass offers more of a low-end or bass response, which is actually quite effective when playing high-gain or rock (lots of ‘push’ in the tone). The High Pass is the opposite, offering more treble and a cleaner result, whereas the Band Pass is more flat in response. Because each of these offer very unique responses to the other settings (the Drive and Q knobs in particular), the Tone comes in handy to balance things out.
The Mix knob is different from the Wet/Dry knob. The Wet/Dry determines how much of the effect is mixed with your guitar signal with 9 o’clock giving a nice hint and flavor whereas once you reach 12 noon you’re getting a lot of the effect in with the dry guitar sound. The Mix knob, on the other hand, determines the mix between the distortion (gain) and the autowah. I left the Mix up full in the video to emphasize the qualities of various settings.
EASE OF USE:
There’s nothing difficult about turning a knob, but there is so much that can be tweaked on the Automat. This may be an annoyance to some players who simply want to plug-and-play, but there may be times when you want a bit of thickness added to your tone all the way to some nice growling and long-winded wahs. And certainly preferences among players will vary, from those who play funk to those who play hard rock and metal. The Automat can fit into any of those genres, and as a result it necessitates a wide array of tweaking possibilities. Certainly you will need to balance the Tone knob with the filter type (Low Pass, Band Pass, High Pass), whereas you may want a higher sounding wah or one that is deeper and more throaty. The Wet knob is very sensitive, in that just a fraction of an inch (a millimeter or two) can make the effect mix a touch too low or maybe too high – although that could alter from one song or composition to the next and depending on your taste. Nonetheless, if you like experimenting with sounds and don’t mind investing some time turning knobs to discover some inspiring sounds, then the Automat has a lot to offer and will be right up your alley.
RELIABILITY & DURABILITY:
Palmer’s Automat is a well-constructed pedal. It has an all-steel housing, as do most pedals, but Palmer also included an extended back edge or guard (not sure how else to describe it, but do refer to the photo). This added framing will offer some additional protection of the cables and power chord. Likewise, the in/out cables and the power cable does plug into the back of the unit, which keeps one’s foot from stomping on them and which design also saves on some pedal board real estate since you can place pedals closer together. With the Automat you do not have to use a separate power source (9v and 12mA power consumption), but can opt for using a standard 9v battery (with an easy-to-open compartment located on the bottom, which location may not be ideal for those who affix their pedals with more permanency).
The Automat also has a metal footswitch (to control on and off) and all metal knobs. The knobs have a very solid yet smooth feel when turned. Palmer pedals are highly affordable, but the quality of construction certainly suggests German engineering and made with pride.