With adjustable clipping and interactive LED’s, will this be more than just a gimmick?
Overview & Cost: $175.00 from Interchangenoiseworks.com
I have to be honest, every time I get word about a new distortion pedal I expect it to be too derivative and boring. However, the last few pedals that have passed through my hands have been shockingly inspiring and unique. And then I got this Element 119 distortion….
This pedal perfectly encapsulates why you see so many positive reviews online these days. It’s because people are making better, more functional gear than ever before in history, it’s all good! What you have here is a distortion circuit with standard controls like bass, treble, and output volume (labeled exposure). However, then they add in the decay knob, which adjusts how hard the distortion clips and interacts with the colored LED to display how your guitar tone is clipping in real time. Green for heavy, blue for medium, and red for light clipping. This pedal isn’t just cool because it’s interactive however, it sounds absolutely gnarly. Interchange Noise Works put together a pedal that really responds to your picking attack, and displays the results in real time, while distorting and decaying while shorting the bias voltage. What you end up with is a pedal that is flexible, and covers a lot of distortion ground without being built to be derivative of a popular circuit. The Element 119 also features, what they refer to as, “assymetrical pyramid clipping”, which carries over some traits from a gated fuzz to this distortion pedal.
Sound & Opinion:
The similarities between this distortion design and a gated fuzz are apparent right off the bat. When you really crank the volume and decay knob, this is distortion really becomes an ultra-clear, ultra-articulate fuzz. Perhaps it can be best described as the sound of a Marshall amp seconds away from exploding. When I kick it on and turn the knobs up, you get this fizzy, rich, wall of sound that is distinctly different from the bass-rich sound of a RAT distortion. It really gets fuzzy but it never loses any of that clarity and chords ring out beautifully which does keep it firmly grounded in distortion territory. At the same time, it adds such a thick, room filling quality to single note riffs and lines, something that is hard to pull out of a lot of distortion pedals easily. Interchange Noise Works’ attempt at creating a flexible-clipping distortion that displays the clipping in real time is relatively bold, but well executed. Especially because it is a knob-controlled as opposed to the typical toggle switch, which I feel provides a little more touch and sweeping control to dial in your sound here. It’s a good idea, and a great high gain pedal for the modern guitarist. And if I’m being honest, the price isn’t too bad by small batch, boutique standards anyway.
Final Conclusion & Ratings: 8.75 out of 10
After reviewing a series of distortion and high-gain pedals I really liked, I was expecting to be a bit distortion fatigued. However, Interchange Noise Works put together something really cool and different with the Element 119 that makes it worthy of your attention. With great touch sensitivity, that you can literally watch via the color changing LED, it is very fun to leave the Element 119 always on, and control the dynamics of your sound via your guitar’s volume knob and your picking attack. In some ways, it is a great high gain distortion for the minimalist who wants a lot of the sound to come out of their playing style or fingers. It’s packed with ultra useable sounds, that span from cranked overdrive to cranked Marshall to cranked fuzz. For moderate fuzz enthusiasts, you could probably put this on a board in place of your not-so-often used fuzz, giving you a bit more flexibility than your average big muff. Otherwise, garage rock, metal, and hardcore punk players will probably get the most use of this awesome stomp box!