Where do you start with an effect like the Ring Modulator? It’s essentially the musical equivalent of Charlie from that ‘wildcard’ episode of ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’; always unpredictable and always ready to destroy everybody else’s fun. Well that’s at least how it portrays itself on the surface.
For those of you unfamiliar with the effect, what it basically does is multiply your original signal with that of a modulated signal and reproduces them at harmonic intervals both regular and irregular. This in turn creates tones that range from bell like gongs, robot vomits, Bermuda triangle ride sounds, sci-fi nightmare squeals, alien computer jargon and most famously used by Dr Who’s nemesis The Daleks who would scream ‘Exterminate!’ .
As per usual with Way Huge Electronics, they give you control over many parameters. With the Ringworm we can select five different LFO (Low Frequency Oscillator) waveforms:
– Envelope Follower (responds to volume/attack of playing)
– Random (unpredictably jumps between seven different frequencies).
– Square Wave (jumps between two frequencies)
– Step Sine Wave (Sequences up down through seven pitches)
– Sine Wave (Moves smoothly through two pitches)
We also have width and rate controllers that adjust the range and speed of the LFO accordingly. We have a frequency knob that adjusts the pitch of the internal oscillator and finally your best friend – the blend knob.
This is where this pedal and effect in general goes from the aforementioned alien/robot/Dr Who/See anything sci-fi related sounds to a very interesting tone sculpting tool. This is where the wild card goes from the guy who’s ruining everybody else’s fun by pissing in the pool to the guy that inspired the skinny dipping in the spa.
By fine tuning the blend control we can adjust these otherworldly and alien sounds to create underpinning tones that off set that generic guitar sound you might be working with. A perfect tool for sculpting those unique guitar sounds that can be heard on so many records – think Radiohead’s ‘Bodysnatchers’ or The National’s ‘Lemonworld’ as recent examples.
Patience is really the most important part of using an effect like this and Way Huge make a quite unpredictable effect about as intuitive and sculptable as it can be. So if you’re looking for pedal you can turn on a jam away then steer well clear.
If you like your guitar sounds thick and rich and accompanied with John Bonham drums then the Ringworm will probably make it hard for you to sleep at night. But if the idea of offsetting your standard guitar sound excites you and you fancy yourself a bit of a sonic architect then the Way Huge Electronics Ringworm might be the little shade of ‘field-gray’ you didn’t know you were after.
Review by Gary Milk