• Mission Gemini Wedge Video Review

    Interested in seeing and hearing the Mission Gemini Wedge full range active guitar cabinet?

     

    Cooper Carter did a great rundown. Check out the video review to see them in action.

     

     

    If you would like to find out more about the Mission Gemini Monitor Wedge, you can read more here.

     

     

  • Win a VM-PRO with The Music Zoo

    We’re starting the New Year with another giveaway.

     

    We’ve teamed up with The Music Zoo to give away one of our most popular pedals, the Mission VM-PRO active volume pedal.

    The Music Zoo has been a destination for musicians around New York City since 1994. Their commitment to personalized service, custom instruments, and great prices have made them the first choice for players around the world as well.

    There are multiple ways to enter the competition including subscribing, and sharing on social media. Click the enter button to get started.

  • Win a Mission VM-PRO

    It’s the holiday season, and time for another giveaway.

     

    We’ve teamed up with EnterTalk Radio and Pitbull Audio to provide the most awesome of giveaways: a $194.00 Mission VM-PRO active volume pedal.

    With on board buffers, isolated tuner out, sparkle control and compatibility switches, the VM-PRO works perfectly with virtually any instrument, and any signal chain.

    Earn extra entries by following us on Facebook, retweeting us on Twitter, even just reading our blog.

    EnterTalk Radio and Pitbull Audio want to give you an extra chance to win a VM-Pro Volume pedal by simply tuning into their latest radio podcast Sharpen The AXE . Click to learn how to get your bonus entry.

    From checking out the latest innovative designs to finding out the backstory behind legends and classics, join hosts Paul Berezetzky and Eric Lucero as they explore the ever-growing world of guitar and bass gear.

  • Black Friday

    It’s our only sale of the year. The Mission Black Friday Sale runs from now through November 29th. 15% off across the board on all items on the Mission web store excepting B-Stock and cables. Just apply the following coupon code to your cart. Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Mission.

     

    Coupon code:

    friday

  • Boxing it up

    If you are building an effects pedal, you are likely going to need a case, or enclosure to keep it in. Let’s face it, the varying names and colors on the boxes are often the only differences between certain types of pedal anyway.

     

    The gold standard for containment in the pedal biz is the die cast aluminum enclosure from Canadian company, Hammond Manufacturing. Drilled and painted Hammond boxes provide the exteriors for the majority of boutique pedals, but that is by no means the only way. Let’s take a look at the benefits to keeping it standard, and some fun options if you prefer to go it alone.

    The Hammond 1590 Series is the baseline for effects pedals. When someone says they are using a 1590A or BB style enclosure, these are Hammond part numbers. Even though we might actually be using a box manufactured by another company, it’s often the Hammond part numbers we reference, a sure sign that they have become the de facto standard. Other manufacturers make similar enclosures. New Sensor is owned by the same people as Electro Harmonix, so that will give you an idea of the types and choice of enclosures they have available. Eddystone enclosures out of the UK have been part of Hammond Manufacturing since the late nineties. There are also various far east manufactured boxes available from specialist pedal parts suppliers such as Small Bear Electronic and Pedal Parts Plus.

    A major advantage to using genuine Hammond boxes is the quality of support. Detailed documentation with accurate measurements is provided, as well as well as 3D files in multiple formats. This may not be a requirement for the hobby builder, but it’s important for the commercial manufacturer that uses CAD and CAM tools to speed design, and produce a consistent quality product in volume.

    Die cast aluminum enclosures are strong and not too heavy. They can be easily drilled with low cost tools for home projects, as well as consistently machined on a production line for volume manufacturing. They provide a good substrate for finishing with paint and fixing with adhesives. They stand up well to knocks and scrapes, and can be expected to withstand many years of heavy use. These are all good reasons to use this type of enclosure for your pedal.

    Production of die cast enclosures requires custom tooling. Molds are created for the parts into which the molten alloy is injected using special machinery. Creating these molds is very expensive, and they have a finite life. All the stars have to line up to make selling such enclosures commercially viable. As a result, there is a fairly limited range available, and they are the same ones as everyone else uses. Differentiating the appearance of your product can be a challenge with the limited choice.

    Die cast enclosures respond well to painting in both liquid and powder. Alternatively, they can be engraved using moderately priced tools. Decals and different types of adhesive label can be applied. A friendly local trophy store can be a great resource for the pedal hobbyist. Most moderate sized towns, in the US at least, normally have one or two in the neighborhood. These stores will usually have laser cutting and engraving tools, and a range of different label materials. They will be happy to make one off or small runs of custom adhesive labels that can give your project a professional finish at a reasonable cost.

    Anodizing is an electro-chemical process that creates a protective coating to non-ferrous metals, particularly aluminum. In combination with certain dyes, the process can yield a distinctive finish with excellent cosmetic qualities. Unfortunately, being a chemical process, the quality of the result is very much dependent on the makeup of the base material. Die cast aluminum products are usually alloys that are not suitable for anodizing. Other elements are added to the aluminum to provide certain properties, in particular Silicon is added to improve fluidity. Silicon does not anodize, and the result is normally a dull and patchy finish. There are potentially ways around this but they are complex, expensive, and normally reserved for industries such as aerospace and professional sports where the budgets are somewhat higher.

    For an anodized finish, you’ll need a folded aluminum enclosure. A few of the specialist pedal parts stores are offering some of these now. If you are into mechanical design you can create one fairly easily, and it’s a good first project if you are interested in learning. There are several free or low cost 2D and 3D design tools that have recently become available like SketchUp, and Autodesk 123D. I use Draftsight for 2D. Check to see if you can find a local metal shop that can fabricate your enclosure from your drawings.

    Anodized finishes can be laser etched. It’s great for small text or intricate graphics as it provides a very high resolution with sharp edges. It’s only one color though, and the color is determined by the chemical make-up of the oxide, so you don’t really have much control over it. Screen printing over anodized parts is common for commercial products. The oxide layer is non-conductive, so if you need the enclosure to act as a screen, you’ll have to have a conductive layer applied first. You’ll need to see of your anodizing shop can support this, and it adds cost.

    This leads us nicely on to screening, and the contention that a pedal enclosure must be bonded to ground. I’ve seen plenty of times comments or complaints about pedals from various sources that do not have the chassis connected to the circuit ground, but there is really no rule that says this is required, and in some cases it may actually be necessary to isolate them. Take a look around at some of the electronics you have where the enclosures are wood, or plastic, or some other insulating material.

    If you are using a metal enclosure, connecting it to the electrical ground is often done so that the chassis functions as a shield against electromagnetic interference. In low voltage DC devices such as most effects pedals where the – and ground are usually common, connecting them all together can often help both protect against noise induced from EMI, as well as radiating EMI causing noise in other devices. However, this may not always be the case. Think about it, guitars and speaker cabinets which are effectively enclosures made of insulating wood or plastic, work perfectly fine without a ground bonded metal chassis, although it is true that the EMI performance can sometimes be improved by correctly adding some metal shielding to these.

    When using intentional radiators such as wireless devices, enclosing antennae in a grounded metal box will pretty much stop it working at all. We are already starting to see wireless features such a Bluetooth getting added to effects units and digital amps so we can expect this to become more commonplace as effects become more sophisticated.

    So it’s certainly not a requirement to make effects pedals in small metal boxes. If you are handy with a saw and hammer, making a wood case would be perfectly reasonable. If it’s a gain pedal and gives you problems with EMI, then you can use some adhesive conductive metal tape on the inside of the enclosure. The same goes for plastic, and using an off the shelf molded plastic case, or making one yourself from acrylic or polycarbonate would be feasible. Since these materials are available clear, you can even show off your electronics handy work.

    And while using square and rectangular boxes maybe the most practical from a build and pedal board layout standpoint, there’s really no reason that has to be the case. If you are looking for some inspiration, look no further than the Dr. No Effects Ford Falcon Fuzz, a fuzz pedal in a toy car. Yay!

  • VM-PRO #1 Rated Volume Pedal for 2016

    We are happy to report that The Mission Engineering VM-PRO was rated #1 in the Ezvid listing of the 10 best volume pedals of 2016. This is the second year in a row that the VM-PRO ranked #1 in the volume pedal listing.

    The exceptional versatility provides compatibility with any instrument, amp, or signal chain. Combined with Mission quality and service the VM-PRO continues to be one of our most popular and best selling pedals.

    Watch the full run down of the top ten volume pedals for 2016 at:
    wiki.ezvid.com/best-volume-pedals

    VM-PRO

  • Classic

    A popular application for Mission expression pedals is to provide a wah controller for a digital modeling device such as the Fractal Audio Axe-Fx or Kemper Profiler. The Mission pedal gives the feel of the classic vintage wah pedal, and now you can recreate the look too.

    We have just 100 units of the Mission EP-1 Classic in the traditional black crackle texture paint finish of your favorite vintage wah pedals. The EP-1 Classic is available now on the Mission web store only in standard or spring loaded versions. Better still, the standard version is just $99.00, the most economical of all Mission pedals.

    ep1-cbk_side_web ep1-cbk_rear_web

  • Head Cab for DSL40C

    For those not familiar, Stagecraft is the Mission Engineering division that designs and builds speaker and amp cabinets for many boutique tube amp vendors around the world. Stagecraft also builds custom cabinets for individual customers from the stagecraftgear web store.

    The number one custom request we receive at Stagecraft, is for a head cabinet for the DSL40C amp. Only available from the manufacturer in combo format, the DSL40C is a fantastic sounding and super flexible tube amp. You can swap between the Plexi style ‘Classic’ and JCM800 like ‘Ultra’ gain stages at the touch of a foot-switch making this a great amp for playing live with both rhythm and lead tones. Flexible tone controls, separate reverb settings for the two channels, and an effects loop round out a very complete amp.

    A pentode/triode mode switch alternates between 20W and 40W outputs making the DSL40C very usable for both home and small stage compared to it’s mighty 100W brother the DSL100H. It’s no wonder a lot of guitar players are keen to get a hold of a head version to use this amp with their own choice of speaker cabinets.

    The Stagecraft DSL Rack Head features:
    Birch cabinet with authentic British style black Tolex, grill cloth, and white piping.
    Black plastic corners with brass screws.
    Removable back panel with gold color metal grill.
    Black or gold top handle.
    Four rubber feet.
    Foil top shielding with mounting bolts.

    Everything you need to turn the DSL40C combo into an awesome head.

    The Stagecraft DSL Rack Head is available now from stagecraftgear.com

     

    DSL Head FrontDSL Head Rear

  • speaker stacks

    Speak to Me

    Here’s a quick challenge: You want to make the most dramatic change possible in both the look and sound of a guitar rig, but can only change one item. What do you choose?

     

    Hands up all those who said speaker cabinet? It may not have been the first thing that came to mind, but think about how much of the difference between a small combo, and that giant wall of Marshall stacks is really in speaker cabinets rather than the amps.

    For manufacturers cost optimizing their products, cabinets and drivers are often the first targets for reduction. Compromises here will normally yield much greater savings than the electronics, enabling them to hit the required price point. Budget units can often conceal some really nice amps hidden behind crummy, low cost cabs and drivers. With a modest amount of effort, you can choose the right speaker drivers, get your own custom cabinet built for you, and assemble it yourself in an afternoon.

    If you are using a tube head, then this should be quite straightforward. The purpose of separate heads after all, is to allow the use of different speaker cabinets. If you are using a combo, then you may have an extension speaker out on the back that permits connection of and additional cabinet. Some cabinet builders can also build new combo enclosures for your amp. If you are using a software based modeler, then you have a choice of using cabinet simulation software with a full range monitor, or turning these off and using a regular cabinet.

    The first cabinet decisions are going to be the size of cabinet, and number and size of speakers. In general, a larger cabinet and more drivers is going to provide an increased Sound Pressure Level (SPL), in other words ‘louder’, and increased low frequency response.

    If you are looking for a gut punching, pants leg flapping output like no other, then there really is no substitute for a big 4×12. Everyone should play through one of these at least once in their lives. It truly is an addictive experience. Alas, as with most addictions the trade-offs are numerous. A typical 412 is around 2.5 feet square, and a challenge for the trunk of most cars. At around 50lbs for just the empty cabinet they are not light either. With four vintage 30’s and some hardware such as casters, you are knocking on the door of 100lbs!

    If you can live with a slightly reduced flap of the pants, then a 2×12 vertical or diagonal is a popular choice. These provide a good chunk of the look and feel of a 412 but in a smaller, lighter package. With the right choice of drivers, you can get something that still covers a wide range of amps, but comes in sub 50lbs fully loaded.

    A 212 slanted diagonal is my personal favorite all round cabinet. A straight 412 is very directional: The high frequency tends to drop off quite significantly when you get off axis, so you’ll get a very different sound depending on where you are standing relative to the cab. A slanted diagonal cab does a better job of high frequency dispersion giving a more consistent frequency response over a wider area.

    Side by side cabinets utilize two drivers in a low profile form factor that’s not too much bigger than a 1×12. This is a great configuration to give you the extra output of two drivers, while keeping the size manageable. Some 2×12 cabinets can be used in either horizontal or vertical configuration increasing the flexibility still further.

    After choosing configuration, the next choice is going to be cabinet material. There are several suitable woods with the most common being Baltic birch ply and pine. The Baltic birch tree grows around the Baltic area of Northern Europe, hence its name. The ply has been used by European cabinet makers for many years and is known for it’s strength and stability. Typical ply wood is made from higher quality veneers on the outside and softer woods on the inside whereas Baltic birch ply uses the higher quality wood for every layer. The softer interior layers of standard ply also have areas of no wood at all called voids. Baltic birch ply is void free, so it’s 100% solid. It holds on to screws and inserts much better so it’s ideal for bolting oscillating speaker drivers to. Many good quality speaker cabinets are made entirely from Baltic birch including most of the classic British cabinets. Another suitable ply for speaker cabinets is Italian Poplar, which though not quite as strong, is generally lighter than Birch.

    The traditional American Fender style cabinets are often made from solid pine. Pine is a little lighter, and being a little softer the pine cabinet can contribute more to the overall sound. Since the wood is less uniform than the Baltic birch, there can be differences from cab to to cab, and you have to be more careful matching the driver to avoid unwanted resonances. A good pine cab with appropriate speaker can give you that classic bright and lively American sound. Cabinets with pine shells and Baltic birch baffles can be a great choice. The Baffle is the front piece of wood that the speaker is bolted to. This way you get the strength and stability where it is needed most, and still some of that classic pine tone.

    Next up is to select the speaker driver. Most of the major guitar speaker driver manufacturers provide extensive details on their websites of the characteristics of their various drivers, and suitability for certain types of cabinets and the tones they are aimed at. Take the time to read through these. Mounting holes are sort of a standard. In most cases a 12” driver from vendor A and a 12” driver from vendor B can be exchanged and the mounting holes in the cab match up, but it’s not absolute, so check the specs that will be published by the vendor.

    Drivers can be front or rear loaded, which means the driver is put in through the baffle and bolted either through the front of the cabinet or the rear respectively. You should check both the cabinet and the speaker driver specs to see which orientation they require. Some cabinets and speakers will support both in which case you can choose which you like best. Otherwise you should make sure they are compatible. For example, if your cabinet is rear load only, and your speaker is front load only, then they won’t work together without modification.

    Drivers will have impedance and power handling ratings. Guitar speakers are most commonly 4, 8, or 16 ohm impedance. These figures are per driver and will change when using multiple
    drivers depending on how they are wired. Speaker manufacturer Eminence publish some great technical resources on the different ways to wire together multiple drivers, and how this impacts total impedance. Check them out at www.eminence.com. Check to make sure that the total impedance of all drivers wired together the way you have chosen is supported by your amplifier. Mismatched impedance can cause improper operation and in some cases serious damage to either drivers, amp or both.

    Power handling for guitar speakers is usually from around 20W at the low end to around 200W at the high end. These figures are per driver and will change accordingly when using multiple drivers. Matching speaker power handling to amp output depends to a large extent on what your personal requirements are. In general, if the effect of speaker break-up is part of your required tone, then you should aim for the low side of the power handling. It’s OK in most cases, and sometimes desirable to use lower rated drivers with higher rated amps, as long as appropriate precautions are taken. For example, if you are looking for some speaker break-up at lower volumes, using a 30W rated speaker driver with a 50W rated amp is appropriate because the driver is going to begin to breakup long before you hit maximum volume. If you pound away with a bunch of high gain pedals at full volume with the amp cranked to the max at a stadium gig, then you do risk damaging the speaker driver, but if you are running the amp at lower volumes then you’ll likely remain well within the driver specs and get towards your desired tone at the same time. Vice versa if you want to make sure that your speaker tone remains clean and does not break up at all, then you can over rate the driver. Using a 100W or 150W speaker with a 50W amp could be suitable in this case.

    There’s only so much you can determine from specs, and eventually you are going to have to start putting speakers in cabs and trying them out to see how they sound to you. Don’t be too surprised if you have to have a two or three goes at it to find something you really like. Start by following the speaker drivers recommended cabinet configurations, and going with something that’s a known quantity such as 30W British style drivers in a birch 412, or American style drivers in a 2×12 pine, and you’ll be relatively safe. Later on you can start experimenting by trying unconventional combinations like American style drivers in British style cabs. You can even mix different drivers within the same cab. For example putting low frequency optimized drivers at the bottom of a cab and higher frequency optimized ones at the top can help give a more hi-fi like tone.

    For wiring up, your speaker cabinet builder may offer pre-assembled wiring harnesses so you you can just plug in and play without any soldering or crimping required. If you are au-fait with these techniques and have the right tools, you can do your own wiring. Remember that for both internal connections and when connecting the finished cabinet to the amp, the wires carry power amp level outputs so you must use suitable gauge speaker wire. Don’t use a guitar cable to connect your 200W tube head to your 412! If you are not comfortable with basic electrical wiring, then you should have a qualified person do it for you.

    Most of all, experiment. There are a few basic rules such as the mechanical and electrical ones described earlier, but other than that try different stuff out and see what you like. As long as it’s put together safely, if it sounds good, then it is good!

  • Pre-order the illuminated Aero expression pedal.

    This one has been on the request list since the Winter NAMM music industry trade show in LA back in January. The new Aero light weight aluminum expression pedal with an illuminated base.

     

    Fair enough, it does look pretty cool, but is also practical. You can tell from almost any angle if your remote effect has been engaged which may not always be obvious with a simple LED indicator, especially from across the stage. On the Illuminated Aero pedal, you hit the toe switch and the entire base lights up with a halo effect.

    The SP1L-PRO Aero is in build now, and you can pre-order here. Orders will ship first come first serve beginning on or before September 12th so reserve yours now. There’s a pre-order discount and free shipping in the US.

    If you haven’t seen one in action yet, check out the demo video here.

     

    https://youtu.be/HU2or9FNQlk?t=3m24s

    Get my pedal

    Pre-order the SP1L-Pro Aero illuminated expression pedal

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