When he heard that The Weisstronauts were undertaking a mini-tour last fall, Andy "Gear Geek" Hong was cool enough to loan me a couple of his Moogerfooger pedals-by Moog Music-to try out on the road. The MuRF pedal, which sends a guitar signal through a sequenced filter matrix, immediately grabbed my attention. I tried it out one afternoon before the tour, playing guitar and synth through it, as well as processing full program material. Extremely cool and unique effect-very rhythmic, got my feet a-tappin'. You can choose one of 24 different matrix patterns and configure the eight filter sliders for pretty much an endless variety of percolating sounds. The only effect I've heard that's similar to it is the Z.Vex Seek Wah, which I reviewed in Tape Op #24, but the MuRF has a ton more features. I should note that because it's a fully analog device, syncing the tempo can be a bit tricky, though it can be done pretty effectively with an external tap-tempo pedal.
There are a few ring modulators out there, but I think the Moogerfooger variety is about the finest in the land. In addition to the standard carrier-frequency balance controls, the Moogerfooger adds an LFO (that affects the carrier frequency) with two selectable waveforms. There's also a drive control. So, in addition to the tried-and-true skronks, bell-tones, and beautiful microtonic weirdness of ring modulator yore, you can also get high-quality, dual-waveform tremolo as well as a clean boost all in one pedal. Not too shabby. I only had room on my pedalboard for one Moogerfooger on the road, and it was a tough decision, but I took the Ring Modulator, really because it suited the Weisstronauts' music more than the MuRF. It worked and sounded great, and even elicited a few post-set inquiries. ("Hey, in the middle of your third song there was this weird non-guitar-outer-space sound... what the hell was that?")
Sound quality aside, the biggest strength to the Moogerfooger series is its versatility. All the Moogerfoogers are designed to be attractive enough for tabletop use, yet are rugged enough for floor/stage use. They all easily handle everything from high-impedence guitar to line levels. And each Moogerfooger has a slew of 1/4" jacks on the back for interfacing with expression pedals, foot switches, CV signals, and other synth functions, and more. Though I didn't have the cash flow to purchase one of each of these gems, as soon as I returned Andy's to him, I had to go out and buy a Ring Modulator. With any luck, a MuRF could be in my future. (Ring Modulator $289 MSRP, MuRF $449; www.moogmusic.com)
Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.