I treated myself to a Ring Thing, hoping that it would sound as awesome as it looks on paper while freeing up pedal board space, which I try to keep to a small footprint. I had a Frequency Analyzer, Micro Pog, and Dano Tuna Melt trem that could theoretically be replaced with this one pedal, while giving me expression capabilities that really help a guitar player, well, express himself.
I’m not one for hyperbole, but the Ring Thing is the greatest thing to happen since Jesus and the Beatles mended hurt feelings and got together to defeat Hitler, who was riding on Godzilla’s back.
Pitch shift is way cool and polyphonic, which means that whole chords are moving with the pitch bend. I never messed with a Digitech Whammy so much, but my impression was that it did not allow this, so I guess it was monophonic or just sucked. The RT replaced my micropog, as it was used mostly to add octave up or octave down after fuzz for solos, and to stand out in a 3-guitar band. Since the RT doesn’t allow you to put an octave up and octave down at the same time, I can’t get that organ-esque tone like the POG series does. Meh, I have a keyboard. Regardless, the actual tracking on the RT is WAY better than the MP. The octave down is so full and natural that I’m surprised they’re from the same manufacturer. Never mind two octaves down, which is pratically subsonic and had dogs in my neighborhood humping other, smaller dogs to satisfy the feelings caused by such a low rumble. Octave up is good too, as good as it should be. MicroPog, thanks but you’re gone.
Using the Boss EV-5 exp pedal works perfectly (EDIT: No it doesn’t. Read on). What did not work were the Behringer FCV 100 and the Yamaha FC-7 keyboard expr pedals, FYI. If I do a full octave dive in either direction, it doesn’t really do a chromatic scale, but if I down tune only a 5th, for example, it pitches chromatically (I guess; kinda like varispeed) from the root note down to the fifth, and this setting lets me get really good My Bloody Valentine type “melting”, and also just good harmony for single notes or full chords, as well as good chorus with the mild detune.
Ring Mod tone is really good. Having owned the FA, the thing I liked best was the hugeness of the analog circuit giving bell like tone. Well I am surprised that the Ring Thing does an admirable job of capturing that feeling digitally. Regardless of minor tone differences, the RT is way more musical. It sounds good on chords and has the great feature of tuning to any note with your foot. You can play a riff, switch to a new position and retune instantly, then tune back when you switch your hands back. Along with that, you can actually hold the tune button down continuously, so its tuning with each new note you hit, which adds just a little life and a cool momentary flam/flange type thing. Cool. And I get a good Tremolo in this mode. Tuna Melt, I like you but let’s just be friends. You are now part of my wife’s keyboard setup.
Upper Band and Lower Band modes are just simplifed ring mod types and both sound great. Frequency Analyzer, you’ll be missed. We had some fun times, please know that you helped me learn something about myself.
Now here’s the part that is making me gush over this pedal: External oscillation control. I’ve never worked with such a feature and wondered what I would try first. Well, I used my Korg Kaossilator, and it has totally transformed what I am capable of producing with my guitar. If you’re not familiar with the Kaossilator, look it up on youtube because they’re totally fun. So I put that in the external mod input and started messing around. Good Lord almighty. In Ring Mod mode I would set the Kaossilator to some melodic sounds: violin, synth bass, piano, voices. Then I would play guitar and use my bare feet to run across the screen and it was like I was tuning the ring mod. I can set scales on the Korg so a Lydian, Phrigian, Ionian, etc., they would all alter what was coming out of my fingers. Magic! So many filters and robot sounds in that thing. Then this was cool: I would put a drum loop in the Korg and as I was playing, the guitar would pulse along with the beat. If I stopped playing guitar, the drum beat disappears. I was doing start/stop riffing ala Helmet all alone.
Even more rocking (and cuter), I have my 5 year old son and 3 year old daughter, who already love the Kaossilator, playing guitar with me. They’re both surprisingly intuitive when it comes to all things Rock, and its fun to include them, usefully, in my music, instead of just locking them in cages so I can play alone.
So I know this was long but it really barely touches what I have seen so far in my 2 weeks with this thing. I am now down to a simple board: Fuzzhugger Phantom Octave>Fuzzhugger ABsynth>Q-Tron+>Boss TU2>Boss DD5>Ring Thing>Memory Man with Hazarai. That’s it. I will be getting a Looperlative LP2 when it comes out but besides that, I think my pilgrimage and search for tools is done! Now I can actually work on music instead of on ebay.