Gearheads! Mini Gearheads! Mini-Loving Gearheads! As the great Steve Martin coined…. “Let’s Get Small” man! Unless you’ve been living under a rock large or small, you’ve most definitely seen the enormous tide of miniature pedals on the effects market. They are everywhere and found on so many pedalboards, for a very good reason… cause they’re adorable! Well no, that’s not exactly it… It’s because we as musicians have found the need for exceedingly more gear. More sounds, tones and tools than space often allows on a pedalboard. Man, if I could tell you how many times I’ve thought… “Hmmm if I could juuuuuust fit that one extra pedal on there…” It’s siren song many a guitarist have sung in the throws of a new or re-build of their systems.
Cue Brian Mena from Menatone Pedals. One the O.G. boutique effects builders who opened the door for a lot of companies, has something special to bring to the table with the new Mini Red Snapper & Mini J.A.C. Compressor.
The Red Snapper is one of those quintessential overdrive circuits that’s been around since NAMM of 1998. Rich, pure, and one of those pedals that takes your hard earned tone and kicks it into the stratosphere. The Red Snapper has always held the hearts of players who yearn for transparent overdriven guitar tones, yet with the true grit and edge that an amp on the edge of breaking up can provide. It’s a fantastic circuit that’s proven it’s test of time.
The J.A.C. Compressor is in my opinion a compressor for those whom don’t speak the complicated language of compression. While it’s not quite a complicated process to compress signals correctly, many guitarists often misunderstand the usage of compression and either overly compress their tones, add too much noise or hiss, or just plain chase their own dynamic tails. Compressor pedals have always added something special to guitar tones on a pedalboard and when used right, which is often the same as used subtly, the results are fantastic. The J.A.C. is an optical compressor that works like an Teletronix LA2A studio piece. The pre-amp in it is fully discrete which yields a more transparent sound, allowing the guitar’s voice and dynamics to really come though. This is why I find the J.A.C. so inviting to play.
While all of this is great to hear, you might be wondering, “Well do these little pedals sound as good as the originals?” Absolutely! Menatone have chosen full size “through hole” components, and the pedals are completely handmade in the USA. To make these pedals work in such small confinements the battery space has been omitted, so you’ll need to use a power supply.
I found both the Mini Red Snapper and Mini J.A.C. Compressor to work incredibly well together and on their own. In the demo track I was getting fantastic tones from using the J.A.C. to boost the Red Snapper for big and rich solo tones. The J.A.C. on it’s own shined with cleaner pushed funk tones as well as getting a fat and punchy bass track.
Both pedals sounded fantastic pushing a Blankenship Fatboy, essentially 5e3 Tweed Deluxe with more output power. Rich and fat tones jumped out of the amp, tracking incredibly well giving the vintage tones a voice to be reckoned with. These pedals DO NOT sound small!
The Mini Red Snapper offers some helpful EQ choices under the hood via 2 small DIP switches. Essentially giving you various different amounts of cutting the high end. When both switches are down (factory default), the Red Snapper is the same as the original 3 knob full size pedal. For my demo, I kept it set at the factory default setting as I felt I was able to get the best out of the Blankenship Fatboy and both the Les Paul and Danocaster S-Style. I could see, however, experimenting with the high cuts when using brighter or higher headroom amplifiers. Important to note: Adding in the high cut’s will allow deeper exploration of the “Bite” knob which essentially adds that “biting” upper end of the pedal’s frequency.
The Mini J.A.C. Compressor is as simple as it gets, with no internal switches and with 3 simple controls (Comp, Gain & Volume). I find that the interaction between the 3 controls are very intuitive and dead simple. This is MY kind of compressor pedal! I can see adding the J.A.C. to any rig where you might need a transparent and juicy compressor or even a rich and fat clean boost. Add in it’s small stature and industry standard 9v power requirements and you’ve got a winner!
As the world turns, more mini pedals seem to pop up in the already saturated pedal market. While many manufactures forsake tone and substance to shrink their wares, Menatone are taking this new small world seriously & sacrificing nothing. Using full size components that are hand built in the same way they’ve always been making them, there is truly no reason to pass on a chance to squeeze one of these killer pedals into the available space on your board… There is always room for one more!
Click here for more information and how to order.