Pre amps or amps in a box are all the rage for electric guitars. In my quest to find the ultimate acoustic guitar pre amp FX pedal, I've checked out the highly regarded Fishman Tone DEQ, a compact collection of very usable effects. Here’s a video review and on this page a list of some of the key features.
Inputs – This bit is pretty simple, a standard input jack on the right side, together with an input trim control, the boost control is also here for setting the gain level when the boost footswitch is pressed. These controls are a little odd as they are quite small and have a sort of finger grip but also a flat head screwdriver slot, which I don’t quite see the point of, as they can probably get accidentally tweaked whilst being carted around. I’d prefer one or the other, and maybe notched so they stay in the set position.
Outputs – these are all on the left side, we have a standard output jack, and XLR DI output and a Pre / post FX switch for the DI, which give a few options for the PA or recording guy, the power connector is also here, with a 9v battery option on the back of the unit.
On the front – We start with a reverb / delay footswitch with three controls, one knob gives you two reverb options and two delay options, with a time and level control for whichever option is selected. It should be noted that it is either reverb OR delay on this unit, you can't have both together which is a bit of a let down. To be honest I could hardly tell the difference between the two reverb options, the delays though were a little more noticeable.
There is a chorus footswitch, again with three controls, one controller selects between Chorus one, Chorus two, flanger or tremolo, with controls below for rate and level of the option selected.
The Fishman also offers a very usable single compressor control, and a three band EQ for Low / Mid / High.
The third footswitch is the boost which adds a gain, always useful for a solo part. other functions include a phase switch and a Low cut switch for 40 / 80 / 160 Hz.
My conclusion is that all in all the Fishman is a very capable and sturdy FX pedal. The limited available FX combinations means you need to be sure of the sound you want before getting into one of these, but the overall quality of the Fishman is good.
Best bits – Its compact, has a battery option.
Worst bits – Inability to combine some of the FX.
More info from Fishman, here