GEAR
I
n my final Essential Rig, I'm going to take the opportunity to write
about a pedal that I've always wanted to try. My reasons are not
for its usefulness, or its ability to sculpt my tone into a perfect
bass sound, but because it's absolutely mad. Ridiculous in fact:
something that, if switched on during a regular set, would surely
lose me the gig. The ability to approach your instrument and the
music you make in a totally different and experimental way must be a
good thing, right? So, here w e go, a box
of frogs in pedal form - the Lovetone
Ring Stinger.
HISTORY
Lovetone, the brainchild of Dan Coggins
and Vlad Naslas, began production in
1994. Based in Henley in Berkshire, its
slant on boutique pedals was to offer
all-analogue effects with a wide array
of control options. Its initial models
included the Big Cheese Fuzz, Brown
Source Overdrive, Doppelganger Phaser/
Vibrato and the Meatball Envelope Filter.
Production was sporadic, but those
bassists who managed to get their hands
on a Lovetone product quickly spread the
word. The Ring Stinger was introduced in
1998 alongside the Wobulator Panning Tremolo. The company stopped
production of all units in 2001, and as a result second-hand Lovetone
effects rocketed in price. Lovetone continued to offer support for their
existing products until Coggins left the company in 2008. Naslas is still
in charge of the company and their website is still live.
the centre transports you to Narnia on the back of a unicorn - not really,
it's just the on/off switch.
Without a PHD in sound design, fully understanding these controls is
not easy. What's more, when you turn it on, the assault on the senses
is quite extraordinary. It's by far the most extreme pedal I've ever
experienced. To give you an idea of what's on offer, here's a verbatim
quote from the manual: "Klangs, bells, metallic FX, pseudo vocoder FX,
Dalek noises, sci-fi atmospherics, spooky
warbling, trem arpeggios, tonal toggling,
touch sensitive keying, pitch cross-
firing, microtonal and atonal FX, evolving
drones, didgeridoo FX and not least the
meanest graunchiest octave fuzz ever-
and these are just for starters!"
AVAILABILITY
Ring Stingers are now rare and highly
sought after; prices therefore reflect
this. Expect to pay in excess of £750
fora working used example, more if it's
immaculate and boxed. They do crop up
on eBay and bass forums now and then.
Good luck!
ALTERNATIVES
There is truly nothing on a par with the insanity of the RS, but several
companies offer simple ring modulators. Check out the EHX Ring
Thing (£145), Pigtronix Mothership (£340) or MOOG MF-102 (£220).
CONCLUSION
IN USE
As you might expect, the RS is not a simple pedal to explain, but I'll
do my best. The octave/ring footswitch selects one of two modes,
germanium octave-up fuzz or ring modulator. The ring modulator
can be switched between four different voltage controlled oscillator
(VCO) settings: sine, triangle, sawtooth and square wave.
On the left hand side is a footswitch to enable a low frequency
oscillator (LFO). This in turn has four settings: either square/
triangle wave pulse width modulation, or square/triangle wave VCO
modulation. The knobs from left to right are depth and rate for the
LFO; a frequency control for the VCO; drive, which functions like a
distortion pedal's drive knob; timbre, a tone control; and a wet/dry
blend control. Phew!
Across the top are your usual in, out and 9VDC jacks, as well as two
expression pedal outputs to control LFO depth and VCO frequency: the
ring stinger came with a light-sensitive jack adapter that could be used
for theremin-style control over VCO frequency. Finally, the footswitch in
As with other Lovetone effects I've used, the sheer amount of
variables makes not only finding sounds, but also recalling them
very long-winded. Then again, where's the fun in simply plugging in
and immediately finding the sound you're after? The RS is all about
experimentation and finding new sonic textures, even if it means
many hours of tweaking. Lovetone remains somewhat of an enigma,
which I'm sure will continue to drive prices ever higher. Despite this,
its designs will endure as some of the most innovative and creative
effects pedals ever made.
Chris has amassed a staggering amount of insightful,
interesting and sometimes irrelevant information on bass
guitar equipment during his career as a professional bassist.
So we continue to push electronics and bass amps under his
nose and make him report to us on his favourites.
CHRIS HANBY
@ C H a n b yE FX
B AS S GUITAR M AG AZINE
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