Moog Music has been making big, sophisticated pedals — Moogerfoogers — since 1997. They're amazing pedals with lots of synth-inspired modulation features, but they're pretty expensive and are too complex for my puny brain. For me, Moog's new stripped-down Minifooger pedal line is more like it. Compared to their older siblings, the Minifoogers are smaller, simpler, and less expensive. They feel more like traditional guitar pedals, and the effects themselves are more traditional guitar effects: boost, distortion, delay, tremolo, and ring modulation. But the features and sounds are still clearly Moog. Each pedal includes an expression pedal input, and the controls on each pedal are very interactive.
For the past few months, I've been working on an LP for Sie Lieben Maschinen — old- school post-punk jams. Bassist/guitarist/main-dude Josh Newton lives on the other side of the country, and he's been tracking straight into Logic using amp simulators, then sending me his DI tracks to re-amp. So I've done tons of re-amping lately, which has been educational and super fun. With good performances already tracked, I can take my time and experiment with pedals, amps, and mics. If you haven't ever done this, get a re-amp box and do it! You'll find yourself hearing things you never have time to hear in the heat of a normal session. Anyway, over the course of this record, I found myself using the MF Delay and MF Trem all over the place. The MF Delay is just fantastic — dark and crunchy. It can do 700 ms of bucket-brigade delay, and it has a great-sounding pre-delay distortion that's controllable via the Drive knob. Buy this pedal. The MF Trem is another winner. I have a few solid tremolo options in my studio — a silverface Fender Twin, a '60s Ampeg Jet, a Boss TR-2 — and the Moog is a very different beast than all of them. The MF Trem wave-shapes are complex, weird things; and at some settings, the tremolo effect creates enough phasing to get into rotary-speaker territory. My Boss TR-2 sounds boring and pedestrian in comparison, and the MF Trem has gotten lots of use on the SLM songs.
I also used the MF Drive on a number of sessions. Distortion pedals are funny — there are millions of them, they're hard to describe, and sometimes one is the right thing and sometimes it isn't. The MF Drive is a thick, nice sounding overdrive that's flexible and works well on a number of different sources. It includes a resonant low-pass filter, which seems like a cool Moog-ish feature, but in actuality, the LPF didn't do much for me. The resonance is pretty mild and I wasn't able to get sick filter-sweeps out of it. I need to spend some time controlling the cutoff with an expression pedal to see if I like it that way. Anyway, as a distortion pedal, it's cool. It made the cut on a number of Sie Lieben Maschinen guitar tracks, but my favorite use of this pedal was on vocals. I've been trying to get "out of the box" more by running pedals as insert effects — send the recorded track to a re-amp box, then into some pedals, then back into the computer via a DI. Recently, I mixed a steamroller of a sludge/noise EP for North Carolina's Power Take-Off. Gus's vocals are an intense shout/spoken thing, and I spent a good hour or two hunting for the right vocal chain. I ended up with the MF Drive into the MF Delay. The MF Drive sounded gnarly and interesting without being wooly, and the MF Delay sounded great while I torqued on its knobs as the re-recorded vocal take went back into the box. Awesome!
Because I'm not a fan of ring-modulation effects in general, I spent the least amount of time with the MF Ring. But I do want to mention that the MF Ring has an expression pedal control over rate — which lets a player find useful modulation spots while playing. [Even if you're not a ring-mod fan, Moog suggests trying the MF Ring on sources that you might not consider initially, like snare and kick drum. -AH]
Yes, I took a few Minifoogers to band practice too, but this is a recording magazine, right? Here's the takeaway from band practice: the other guitar player in my band is buying an MF Delay.
Like other Moog products, the Minifoogers carry a two-year warranty (when registered) and are built in the Moog factory in the U.S. Of course, nowadays there is no shortage of innovative boutique pedals at this price point, but Moog has done a great job with these pedals. They sound great, and they're fun to dial in. The MF Delay and MF Trem in particular are clear winners.