Reverb Interview: Walrus Audio on the Future of Pedals

The Future Of Pedals

In a landscape of ever-evolving pedal tastes, the guys at Walrus Audio have been right on the forefront. Most recently, Walrus has entered the world of ambient Reverb with the highly touted Descent Reverb which launched at NAMM this past January.

We recently caught up with Colt Westbrook from Walrus HQ to talk about what's next for Walrus and where the pedal world is headed. The Descent has been a big deal for you guys. How has reaction been to that pedal?

Walrus Audio: The reaction has been exactly what I thought it would be. There's a huge demand in the ambient reverb market out there, but at the same time there's a resistance to it. You know, guys that love playing with thick ambient, symphonic tones, but there's also the classic guys are that rebelling against that. The Descent drives a wedge between those two where the ambient reverb nerds are able to clock in on the shimmer setting and customize their octaves, but vintage purists are still able to utilize it when they plug in to the reverse or hall setting. Really the Descent is trying to get everyone to play nice together.

R: And then all the old school guys can use them shimmer mode when nobody is listening, right?

WA: (Laughs) That's right. It's like, I'm alone on a Friday, I'm going to dim the lights, plug in with the shimmer and not tell anyone it happened.

R: Walrus has been right there with a lot of the recent pedal trends: the transparent overdrive, the explosion of fuzz options, all the new reverbs and delays. From your perspective, where do you see the effects world going next?

WA: I think the synth market is growing in popularity, with all the resurrection of outboard gear and some of the obsolete effects that came and went in the 1970s. With the ongoing ambient movement we have, and definitely see things moving toward more synth-like effects.

R: We're strong believers here at Reverb in the triumphant return of chorus pedals. Can you see that happening at Walrus any time soon?

WA: You can count on that, for sure. There's definitely some chorus of the analog nature on deck here.

R: You talked about the synth-style tones, can we expect to see some more experimental things where you guys are working with filters and LFOs and things you would normally see in the synth world?

WA: Absolutely. Like I was saying, we love to dig up older gear and see how we can incorporate this in to something new. We like to see how we can shape those ideas in to something unique that can live forever in the studio or on someone's board while they're on tour.

R: When you're building and trying out new ideas, what are the guitars and amps you typically use to reference the sound?

WA: Here in the shop we have a '60s Jazzmaster, and a demo pedal board with some MXR, JHS, EQD and Pigtronix stuff. We've also got a Fender Telecaster and a Milkman 20-watt Creamer we use. That amp really helps, using that clean tone to hone in on what the pedal is actually doing. We also have a high-gain amp from Stulce.

R: Anything else you guys have coming up you can tell us about?

WA: We've got some international power supplies coming out, so you'll be able to use our pedals anywhere in the world with clean power from us too. We've also got a stereo-in, stereo-out analog delay coming out this year.

R: Any particular features that we're not seeing elsewhere?

WA: Well you don't see a lot of stereo-in analog delays. People have really turned into stereo snobs lately (which is a great thing, especially for amp builders!), and if it doesn't have the stereo-in and stereo-out, people can't fit it at the end of the chain the way the want to. It's gonna have tap tempo, dotted eighths, a little bit of mod, and one second of delay time, which I think is the longest of any analog delay out there.

R: And are you guys using a bucket brigade chip for that?

WA: Yup. Bucket brigade, all the way. I'm crossing my fingers that it's out in October.

R: Last thing. For you personally, what are the all-time top three or so pedals for you outside of the stuff Walrus has produced?

WA: Great question. I've never had anything but Walrus on my board for the last 20 years (laughs). Let's see… I think one of the most important pedals to come out in the last 15 years was the Line 6 DL-4. I don't use it any more though, I use an Eventide Timefactor, and that is a staple on my board. I personally think the Timefactor is the smartest digital delay out there. I've always had the Boss RV-5 on my board, that's never come off. It sits right at the end of my chain, almost always on. And who doesn't have a Big Muff Pi sitting on their board? Those are probably the three that have always been with me.

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