I’ve always been intrigued by product names on music gear. Although guitars and amps have remained fairly conservatively monickered down the years, effects pedals have enjoyed the most outlandish and sometimes vulgar titles. I suppose the trend began with the Electro- Harmonix Mig Muff Pi – if you don’t get it I wouldn’t start worrying about it now – and has continued right up to today. Now we have the Way Huge Swollen Pickle, the T-Rex Gristle King and Emma’s wonderfully named Discombobulator and Stinkbug. You’d be forgiven for thinking you were in a deli asking for the first two and a joke shop for the second lot. However, unless you squint closely at the small print, it’s not obvious from their names exactly what these imaginatively named pedals actually do. Strymon are slightly guilty – their flanger is called an Orbit and their reverb pedal a Blue Sky – but sensibly, they shy away from the innuendo and food references for their product names.
The subject of today’s review – the Strymon Brigadier dBucket – has a name that falls between the two extremes and at least gives you a small clue as to what it is. If you’ve ever owned an analog delay pedal, you will know immediately what this particular product is designed to do and how it achieves it. Bucket brigade – geddit? That good old chip that was used to power analog pedals before the advent of DSP and still much loved amongst vintage pedal enthusiasts. However, let’s not get confused, the Brigadier is a digital device, powered by a powerful SHARC DSP which actually models the old BBD sound. Strymon say, “No stone has been left unturned … every single bucket is recreated in the Brigadier with our new dBucket algorithm.You get all the tone with none of the noise (unless you decise to add it back with the ‘Bucket Loss’ control”.
The Brigadier features not only he usual Time, Mix, Repeat and Modulation controls but a Short/Med/Long delay option on a mini-switch and also control over the Tap repeats, available as a quarter note, dotted eighth or eighth note triplets. There is also a Tap tempo footswitch and a Bypass, as well as the luxury of stereo ouput and expression pedal input. It’s also made in the US, if you’re balking at the price. However, the extra pennies – okay pounds – you have to shell out will all be worth it when you’ve heard the Brigadier. It’s what you wanted your old analog delay to sound like, offering pristine audio quality, low-noise and loads more features not possible on an analog device. Plus, it has up to five seconds of delay on the longest setting and LFO modulation. The Bucket Loss degenerates the repeat -adding noise at the same time – for some convincing lo-fi tones.
Strymon have produced a really musical sounding delay pedal here which doesn’t look or sound like digital. It’s a lot of fun for vintage Rock ‘n’ Roll or country style picking with an authentic slapback on the short delay setting right through to Gilmour style spacey echoes and all points in-between. Is the Strymon Brigadier dBucket Delay worth the money? On performance alone, I’d say it is.