After seven decades of producing world-class instruments and amplifiers, Fender released its first dedicated line of all-original effects pedals. The legendary brand has made a couple one-off effects of the years, but this new line provides a diverse range of six pedals including a reverb, a delay, an overdrive, a distortion, a compression and a buffer.
Fender’s in-house engineer and VP of Product Development Stan Cotey designed the majority of the pedals from the ground up, relying on his 25 years of experience in professional audio to create effects that cater to both amateurs and professionals. “We want the manufacturing to be really good, we want the price-point for the consumer to be really good and we want these to be successful,” said Cotey. “You start to put those parameters on and then all of a sudden you get pushed into a box, and you have to make choices with what you have left.”
The pedals are housed in anodized-aluminum casings with robust pots, fitted with bushing and nuts for durability. The Mirror Image Delay packs a lot of features into a small package. It includes Digital, Analog and Tape modes (with two voicing variations each) and an option to add a dotted-eighth note. Players looking for a tap-tempo function for their delay will have to wait until Fender expands the current line.
Of the six pedals, Cotey said he is most proud of the Pugilist Distortion. “It’s really inexpensive for what it is: two fully independent distortion circuits plus the blend circuit plus the bass boost circuit plus all this stuff we were able to stack in the series — and it’s $99,” he said. “You can get it set where it’s cleaner and brighter on one side and darker and heavier on the other side. Then, you can play really dense chords and hear all the individual notes, and you can play down-strokes and hear the pick and the stringy-ness but still have the thickness and the sense of power from the distortion.”
The only pedal in the line not designed by Cotey is the Santa Ana Overdrive, which features FET technology for tube-like performance. “It was designed by my friend Alex Aguilar,” Cotey said. “Alex is known in the bass world — he’s done a lot of bass amps, but he’s a really good guitar player and he’s done a bunch of high-gain amp design. So, he approached it kind of like he would design an amp. Dynamically, it feels and behaves a lot like that. It cleans up really nicely and you can hear the texture of the string.”
Fender’s new line of pedals offers a strong selection of player-focused pedals, all under $200. Offering quality and functions more often associated with boutique effects, this line is a solid value for anyone looking to build out their pedal board.