Once I was surfing the net and scrolling through available effects pedals. I saw this one unit that had eye-catching design and seemed to be quite versatile and feature-laden. I went on a journey to find out more information about it, but somehow I lost it and could not recall the name no matter how hard I tried to. Then I forgot about it, but the image would come to my mind from time to time, yet the name was still in the dark corners of my brain. I remembered vividly the painting of horses with warriors riding them. I kept searching but there is not much you can find with such vague keywords. So I gave up and tried to believe the famous cliché: “What’s meant to be yours will come back to you” (I don’t really believe in destiny, but I didn’t really have a choice). Years later I found that renowned pedal, purchased it right away and we have been together since then. What a love story, ha? The stompbox I am talking about is Vanguard from Walrus Audio. This magnificent unit is really different from the rest, just like all of its siblings. If you want to know what intrigued me so bad, then stay with me and let’s go through the features together!
Walrus Audio Vanguard will surprise you with the uniqueness of its features. I am not trying to imply that you will come across those only in this pedal, but some of them are quite rare. This baby offers two different phasers, each with a dedicated set of controls. The first one is 10 stage, while the second one has three different voicings: 10 stage with regeneration, 6 stage with pitch and 4 stage with filter. When you utilize both phasers simultaneously, you receive very distinctive ambience that has weird and intriguing texture. Essentially you are dealing with 4 different phasers in a single body – diversifying the capabilities of this fella and turning it into a real monster. What is more, Vanguard can be utilized in mono or stereo setup, with the help of a single input (stereo operation requires TRS-Y cable) and dual outputs. Speaking of connections, we have a jack for an expression pedal (can control all 8 parameters, which makes it different from the crowd) and a Remote control that can either activate the pedal or be in charge of the presets. This puppy allows you to record and save three presets, and utilize them whenever you feel like it. The design I remembered so “vividly” (lord, was I wrong), turned out to be quite different – the copper enclosure features two patrols (not warriors), horseback riding in a post-apocalyptic world. According to Walrus Audio, this painting has special connection to two-phaser configuration: these patrols are stuck between past and future. Vanguard displays that tension and dilemma as you plug it in and start playing. Let’s not forget that this fella can only be powered with an adapter, can be a bit bulky for an overcrowded pedalboard. But considering all the amazing things you can do with this one, we cannot be greedy about the inches.
Moving on to the control section, we have to talk about 8 knobs, one toggle and two footswitches. Yeah, you heard me, that is exactly how much control you get over your tone. These encoders are split between two phases: top row takes care of the 1st phaser, while the bottom one is in charge of the second phaser. Do not be afraid, though, you have nothing to worry about. I am here to help and tell you the assignments and duties of each control we have here.
Let’s begin with the first row: Dry Mix enables you to increase the amount of your original signal in the mix and let the characteristics of your instrument show themselves off; Rate modifies the speed of the effect; Depth alters the intensity of phase shifting; Regen changes the amount of phased sounds that are fed back to the phaser filters, while Wet Mix adjusts the output level of the affected signal.
When it comes to the second row, you have to keep in mind that Rate and Depth do the same thing as we discussed above. Tweak, however, takes up different duties depending on which mode you choose with a toggle. With 10 Stage + Regeneration it acts as a regeneration, with 6 Stage + Pitch it messes around with your pitch, with 4 Stage + Filter it acts as a filter. Preset footswitch enables you to scroll through the presets (and save them with specific taps), while Bypass turns the pedal on and off.
Walrus Audio Vanguard is something that cannot be fully understood unless you plug it in, start playing and spend hours (or even days) looking through its features and sounds. The ability to utilize two different phasers in series gives you fantastic sonic results, as you receive textured, rich, dimensional tones. The second phaser is unique by itself, as it has three modes to choose from. Each has a character of its own: you can achieve deep sweeps, vertiginous swirls or pitch shifted highs and oscillating lows. When you utilize two phasers simultaneously, you can hear them moving around with different speeds, undulating in each other. Vanguard can definitely brag about its bells and whistles in terms of sound, since its sonic spectrum goes from traditional phasing to unique and modern one, as well as covers various realms of modulation.
All in all, Walrus Audio Vanguard is a feature-laden pedal that will inspire those who are always looking for something unique and different. This baby has tons of usable sounds paired with interesting features and properties. You will never want to leave this baby, since its potential seems interminable. If you want to keep yourself busy with some spectacular sounds, then you have to give this baby a shot. After all, it is all worth it if your performance is impressive, right? Good luck!
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