A micro looping delay with lo-fi modulation madness and a chaos switch built-in for good measure.
Time Box Instruments is one of the most incredible pedal companies I have found in the year 2021. Nicky Fuzzbox, the man behind the pedal company, is a circuit bender by trade who makes very unique pedals in all shapes and forms. The Meltdown, the subject of today’s review, is a lo-fi modulated delay with an aptly named Chaos switch. However, this delay is a very long, almost micro-looping delay, that is best suited for creating atmospheric swirls of chords and melodies rather than doing your best U2 impersonation.
You do have typical delay controls including volume (of the effect), feedback, and delay. However, they are paired with modulation controls like depth, rate, and wave shape, which all work together to transform the cacophony of sound that the Meltdown creates. As far as I can tell, the Chaos switch serves as a way to sort of max out all these controls, sending your tone into momentary overload. The Meltdown isn’t a perfect pedal, but what it might lack in some more traditional departments it more than makes up for in inspirational qualities. As I think you’ll see throughout this review, this is a pedal that makes you want to play guitar or bass when you’ve come home from a miserable work day. And that, much like my argument for the CBA Mood, is a wonderful feature!
Review & Opinion
While it took me a few minutes to figure out how to best use the Meltdown, it has been one of the most fun pedals in my arsenal the last few weeks. You can’t approach this pedal like you might approach another delay, as it is more of a sonic blender than what you and me think of as a “modulated delay”. It’s not a Memory Man, plain and simple.
What it is might be better described as a lo-fi filter, that adds some amount of fuzz and dirt to your clean tone, while delaying your signal a good bit of time so that you can often play over a loop. However, the ability to control the modulation and length of that loop is what makes this really interesting. You can essentially smear your riffs together in a washy, textural stream of sound while what you’re actively playing pierces through with much more clarity and bite.
I approach my use of the Meltdown a bit like a synthesizer. This is the pedal that creates pads and movement underneath more traditional guitar or bass tones. And while I’m sure someone far more creative than me could harness this is a lead instrument tone, I found it has endless possibilities in the rhythm section of my music. The Chaos switch specifically does give this a punk breakdown or noise solo potential unlike most pedals out there however. But really, that Chaos is better for specific moments of carefully chosen sonic bliss while the pedal is chugging along as a synth for guitarists who can’t play piano.
Conclusions & Final Score: 9 out of 10
There is a lot I could say about the Time Box Instruments Meltdown to justify why I love it. The obvious comparison is to the MOOD, which I don’t make lightly. I loved the CBA MOOD, but this is the type of pedal that a DIY, garbage guitar player like myself can more easily build into my rig. This has all the randomness and glitchiness that keeps a pedal from being too predictable, but it still far and away very musical. Time Box Instruments is doing some unique stuff, that doesn’t necessarily cost you a whole lot more than any other boutique builder out there. In some cases, the gear is even affordable in comparison. Stay tuned for more reviews, as I was sent another pedal that is somehow even more fun than the Meltdown!