I've been eyeing those Tech21 FlyRigs for a couple of years now. They really intrigue me. Multiple effects that are actually usable in a really small footprint that you can almost fit in your gig bag. And, for your basic gig, the included effects cover just about everything you'd need. Then I heard about a month ago that Sonicake has a couple of similar boards. One of the, called the Twiggy Blues, caught my eye.
Enter my recent birthday. My wife told me to give her a list of things I wanted, so I figured it'd be easiest to just give her a link to a couple of my Amazon wishlists. I had forgotten that the Twiggy Blues was on one of them. I had forgotten because, mostly, my wishlists there are just to remind me (when I have a few bucks to spare) what has caught my eye that I want to try out. I've got all kinds of stuff on my Gear List...everything from books to guitars to pedals to gig bags to various tools, some of which has been on there for 2 or 3 years. No way I remember what's on it without looking back over it.
I was actually pretty surprised when I opened he box and saw it, because she usually doesn't get anything from my list and just kind of makes it up as she goes. So it was totally unexpected when I opened the box and saw this. Spent some quality time with it today, and here are my thoughts on it.
It has 4 effects built into it, compression, OD, delay, and reverb.
Compression. I've never been a huge fan of compression. Maybe I've just never learned how to use one. Maybe every time I've tried to use one I can't really tell what it's doing. Maybe the times that I've tried to use it I kind of feel like I get that Nashville sound (which I know uses a lot of compression). Regardless, I've got a compressor that I never use. This one seemed to be a pretty standard compressor. It can definitely work as a kind of a clean boost. Or it can do that sound that I can never quite describe, but I think I've come to learn is compression. It's not really something I'll use on its own. I figure it's an ok compressor. It has volume and compression knobs.
The OD. I've read where some of the online reviewers are saying that it sounds like TS808 and where others have said that it sounds like a Dumble in a Box. I don't have a Dumble sitting around to compare, and it sounds like an ok OD, but I wouldn't say that it really sounds like an 808. However, in those reviewers' defense, I don't have a real-live TS808. I have a TS9, a TS-mini, and about 7 pedals that are supposed to be TS808 clones. It doesn't really sound like any of those. It sounds pretty good, but not good enough for me to use it on its own. It has volume, tone, and gain knobs.
Slapback (Delay). The delay on it is a digital delay. I think it's funny that they call it Slapback because it took me a while to get what I thought was a good slapback sound. It does the delay thing all day. Once I got the slapback sound dialed-in, I played around with the delay. It can go from that slappy sound to pretty ethereal to downright out of hand if you're not careful. It's an ok digital delay, but in my opinion, it's probably the weakest of the 4 effects. If I were buying a separate delay pedal, it wouldn't be this one. It has blend, repeat, and time.
Air (Reverb). Finally (almost), there's the reverb. To my ear and from what I've seen on other pedals, there are 3 types of reverb: spring, plate, and hall. Generally, if I'm using a reverb on its own, I prefer the hall sound. If I'm using a reverb with other effects, I prefer the spring sound. I don't think I've ever used the plate reverb option. To my ear, the Twiggy Blues uses a plate reverb sound. Kind of like the delay, if I were buying a separate pedal, this would not be the one that I'd get, but I liked it better, and it seemed to be easier to dial in than the delay. It has a mix knob.
It also has a switch right there between the reverb and the delay that is supposed to give you cabinet emulation if you're not running the board to an amp. I didn't actually try it out as I was only playing it through my amp today.
Overall, I don't think any of the effects really stood out. As I've mentioned about at least a couple of them, if I was looking for single effects pedals to to go on my board, these are not the pedals I'd be considering. However, engage any 2 of these at once, and they work really well together, and they suddenly sound good. Engage three of them at once, and it sounds really good. The more I played around with it, I got to where I was really digging the compression, OD, and reverb together. Did I mention that the more I played it the better it seemed to sound? Seriously, I was totally digging this thing after a while.
I'm still not sure I ever got the delay dialed in quite like I wanted. I'll go back and try to do that again next time. I thought it was kind of cool the way the knobs light up for the effects that you have engaged. Yellow, red, green, and blue. You would have no problem seeing them on, but they're no where near the retina burning intensity of the new Fender pedals. It's definitely small enough to drop in your backpack. In fact, it's small enough it will probably fit in your gig bag if that's what you use.
By the time I was shutting it down for the afternoon, I had decided that it was my new grab and go board for simple gigs. The power cord on it is probably 10 feet long, so it will reach pretty well. It sounds pretty good so long as you're not using single effects (although, truthfully, in a talk-y bar or even a church worship service you could probably use any of the effects on their own, and the only folks judging your tone are going to be you and, well, you). And, speaking of worship services, if that's your gig of choice, although I haven't tested it out, that would be an opportune time for you to use the cab emulator since a lot of churches seem to be going with the silent stage concept instead of loud amps pointed at the congregation.
Really makes me wonder what those FlyRigs sound like since I'm sure this is the cheap Chinese copy of those. Actually, these are like $90 on Amazon so they're not the cheap Chinese copy (those would be the $40 version on Ali Express). These would actually be the inexpensive, stripped down version of them. I think the FlyRigs also have an xlr out where the Sonicake alternative doesn't.
The Sonicake Twiggy Blues. Two thumbs up from me.
Snarf is a wannabe musician who currently resides in the great state of Texas. His wife is his favorite. He believes chocolate milk made from milk that is anything less than whole milk is basically water and deserves to be dumped down the sink so nobody has to suffer through it. He hates having to shop for clothes. But he has a thing for really cool bags, and, consequently, has more gig bags than guitars and a closet full of messenger bags and backpacks. He still misses his dog who was taken by cancer 5 years ago. Check out his Reverb shop and see if he has any gear he's trying to get rid of.