It was 1992. This might not ring any bells to many, but for numerous musicians that was the year when something spectacular happened – Jeorge Tripps founded Way Huge. A couple of years later, in 1996, he gave birth to the legendary Aqua-Puss. It was an analog delay pedal with unique characteristics, which made it so renowned so quickly. It was so distinctive, in fact, that it became utterly rare to purchase and the prices increased drastically. Nowadays, you can only find the used ones, but you will probably have to sell your car in order to afford it. It has turned into a collectible item that only the luckiest of us own.
Due to the increased demand for the pedal and such high price, Way Huge (to be more accurate, Dunlop i.e. current owner) reissued the legendary stompbox and once again made its magic accessible to throngs of musicians. Aqua-Puss MKII is exactly the same as the original and carries the best qualities of its predecessors. If you are longing for that special tone but you do not want to sell your kidneys, then keep on reading!
What happens when you take a different path, finally go off the beaten track and let the universe show what it has stored for you? You encounter wonderful things, my friend, and might even discover something you would never think of! The same thing happens when you forget the names of the brands and just look for the sound and the pedal (I am talking about the Way Huge before it got sold to Dunlop). This is how you can discover the gems that are hidden somewhere between replete stocks of mass-produced units.
Though Aqua-Puss MKII is now manufactured by a well-known brand, the qualities it had as the original are fully maintained. It has an all-analog circuitry and shows it off with every sound it emits. The controls are a typical deal you get with guitar delay pedals, so you will not have hard time understanding anything or creating wonderful pieces. The delay time here ranges from 20ms to 300ms, which is not that much by today’s standards, but that is what made the original Aqua-Puss so legendary.
I cannot help but mention the vintage look of the pedal. Its graphic writings and blue surface draws your attention right away. Bulky black knobs are mounted on the surface, completing the whole appearance. The construction quality is amazing as well, which means you will not have to part with it once purchased. Plus, it has AC protection in its circuitry, so that the adapters do not damage the pedal. Just like the majority of stompboxes, Aqua-Puss MKII can be powered with a single 9V battery (you simply have to open the non-detachable battery compartment) or Dunlop DC adapter. It also features true bypass, which means this unit will transfer your sound without compromising its integrity.
As I have mentioned above, the control section is extremely simple, yet rather powerful. After all, this is how the magic of the circuitry can actually be audible to the crowds. The encoders are big in size, which makes them easily tweakable – it feels like you can actually sense the settings with your hand. Though you are probably already familiar with the control section (from the original Aqua-Puss or other delay pedals), I will still discuss everything in depth.
The first knob here is Delay. It modifies the delay time and shifts between 20ms to 300ms. This way you can easily go from fast slaps to slow and long delays. Next comes the Feedback that adjusts the number of repetitions. It allows you to choose the amount of the echo and be scrupulous about the end results. The last knob is Blend, which mixes unaffected and delayed signals. As you increase its settings, the amount of both escalates (I will get to that in a sec). It goes without saying that we do also have the footswitch that triggers true bypass or activates the unit instantly.
Way Huge Aqua Puss Sound
The brand did its best to maintain every single detail that the sound of Aqua-Puss carried. And it succeeded a great deal. The only way you will distinguish between newly purchased Aqua-Puss MKII and the original is if you check your bank account and do not find a certain amount of money there. That is how close they are. The reissue has the warmth of the analog circuitry and is saturated with that unique flavor. It has some darkness and distortion to it, which is what makes it so special.
Those rhythmic and pulsating repetitions of faster delays thicken your riffs and steep them with vibrancy. But as you take things slow and elongate the delay, you are left with a beautiful echo that just adds extra something to the whole performance. If you go crazy and employ extreme feedback, you will hear the delays feeding back to itself. One more distinctive thing about Aqua-Puss MKII is its Blend knob.
Unlike typical wet and try mixers, it expands the amount of both original and affected signals. This means that you are left with a saturated tone that bears the initial nature of your instrument. Rather than overpowering it fully, it chooses to cohabitate with it. And one last thing, Aqua-Puss MKII has clock time noise – one of the main characteristics of analog delays. Though some might think that it is a downside, the manufacturers captured the whole package of the circuitry and delivered everything unchanged.
I do not think I can say anything else to praise Aqua-Puss MKII even more. The features it packs and the sounds it creates display the quality behind the pedal. Its vintage look and sturdy enclosure are small cherries on top. Even if you do not care about the original and have not even heard of it, you should still try out Aqua-Puss MKII. It is definitely one of the best analog delays out there and if you do not believe me, you have access to numerous sound clips. Either way, good luck and hopefully you will love this pedal as much as I do!
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