Alexander Pedals’ new Syntax Error pedal will take your guitar to places that you just wouldn’t get anywhere near with a regular set of effects. Yes, there is an undeniable ’80s computer game bent to this effect, which plays into a retro trend that’s been around for what seems like decades! But this goes far beyond other 80s-style effects like the VCR Ryan Adams Signature pedal…
Dial up tone
When I read the following first sentence on the Alexander Pedals site it conjured up in my mind an idea of what direction the Syntax Error pedal is going.
Syntax Error takes your tones back to the dialup era, when video games were measured by their bits and telephones were wired to your wall.
The pedal is part of Alexander’s Neo Series of compact effects. This one utilises a 32-bit microcontroller, which also allows you to build presets and add expression data (via external pedal or CV) and MIDI control. You can also use an iPad or Mac to edit the pedal in realtime as well.
The first control on the Syntax Error is for the Sample parameter. This will mess with the internal sampling rate and let you bring the signal down to 8-bit style sampling, which is great for the glitchy stuff. Code can control different parameters depending on which mode it is in. These include settings like the amount of gain on a distortion whilst in Code mode, or sample clock direction whilst in Stretch mode.
Mix sets how much of your signal is being effected by the Syntax Error. The Tweak knob controls the length of the sample buffer whilst in Stretch mode, or in Cube mode it can control the cutoff frequency of the low-pass filter. When in Ring mode, it will set the depth of the sample and hold filter modulation.
As mentioned already above there are various modes including Stretch, Cube, Ring and Freq. Speed messes with the clock rate of the internal sampling and so can make you sound ‘trip to’ and even reverse! Then Cube uses a mathematical equation to distort you tone. Yes, the old (abs(INPUT^3))^3 distortion trick…
Ring is, unsurprisingly, a ring modulation effect with Sample and Hold, plus modulation. Freq allows you to shift incoming frequencies by a fixed amount, allowing some pitch shifting shenanigans to unfold.
Trippy ’80s noise
Okay, this pedal is not for the faint-hearted! If you fancy a quick overview then check out the videos below of it in action. It is a buffered bypass unit and so should play nicely on cramped pedal boards, but be aware this ain’t no fuzz box!
Syntax Error RRP – USD 199.95 plus shipping/taxes, due end of August
Alexander Pedals Syntax Error product page