Few things bring me the level of joy that trying out new effects pedals does. Last Fall, PRS announced they were getting into the pedal business and released three pedals in their inaugural pedal lineup. The Mary Cries optical compressor, Horsemeat transparent overdrive, and Wind Through the Trees dual analog flanger. These pedals were developed with great involvement from Paul Reed Smith himself, along with his team of designers and engineers. Designed to emulate recording studio-caliber effects, these pedals are impressive for their sound quality, simplicity, and durability.
“This whole concept started in my home studio. When recording, the musicians were looking for tones and textures that we couldn’t get straight from the guitar. When we couldn’t find what we were looking for, we started building devices with the help of some friends. That’s how the first pedal prototypes were born,” said Paul Reed Smith. “Over time, we all got excited by them, so we decided to offer them to more players. I think these first three designs are the start of something very cool.”
I wasn’t really sure what to expect when trying these out. We all know that PRS is a guitar design and building leader, but not necessarily for anything outside that box. I sat down to try out these pedals on one of my favorite guitars for a true “clean sound” experience and was really impressed by the sonic possibilities these pedals offered.
First up was the Mary Cries optical compressor was inspired by the LA-2A rack mount compressor found in many recording studios. What impressed me most about this pedal was the simplicity of the knobs and versatility of use. This pedal has two knobs (Output Gain and Compressor) and one foot button to activate it. The number of sounds that can be dialed in with just those two knobs was quite remarkable.
There are two LED lights on this pedal — one that lets you know the pedal is activated, and the other shows you when the compressor kicks in. With the compressor knob turned down and the output gain turned up, I was able to use it as a clean boost that helped break up my amp and get some grit in the tone. Whether using a clean tone or one with a higher gain, I achieved everything from a very smooth tone to added sustain.
Next up was the Horsemeat transparent overdrive. Again, I was impressed by the tone quality and simplicity of the knobs on this pedal. It features five knobs (Gain, Level, Voice, Treble and Bass). When cranked up, I found this pedal to have a BIG amount of gain, and the voice knob functions almost as a “mids” EQ knob. The Treble and Bass knobs were interesting because anything set to less than 12 o’clock (straight up) cut the treble, and anything set to after 12 o’clock boosted the treble. I thought that was a great feature and added a lot of versatility to what sounds were possible. Again, when Gain was set low and the Level was set high, it offered a nice clean boost. I also found that using the guitar’s volume knob to adjust the volume added some extra nuance to the tones I was dialing in.
And, lastly, was the Wind Through The Trees dual analog flanger, and if not for having to eat and sleep, I would still be experimenting with this one. This pedal was an amazing amount of fun, and I have to say that I have never had the opportunity to use a pedal like this.
It features two independent LFOs (low frequency oscillators) that can be used individually or mixed together. Each LFO has its own separate Manual, Depth, and Rate knobs, and there are three global knobs control: Regeneration, Dry/Wet, and Added Highs. There is also a Mix knob where you can select LFO 1 or LOF 2 or anywhere in between — and that is where the experimenting got very interesting.
I could dial in everything from your classic 80s pop flange to some really wild sounds you would hear on some free jazz album. The fact that you can have these dual oscillating sounds, pushing and pulling against each other on the same pedal, is truly fascinating. The addition of the Added Highs knob was truly brilliant, as some of the oscillations can tend to get muddy, but that knob helps keep them crisper and in the forefront.
Overall, I was very impressed with these three pedals from PRS. You can tell that some serious time, care, and experimentation went into making these. I’m not surprised that such a prestigious company as PRS has released some very unique pedals. The quality, functionality, and price point of these pedals will help them stand out in the vast effect pedal market. Priced at $219 for Mary Cries, $249 for Horsement, and $349 for Wind Through the Trees, puts them in the midrange pedal price point. All the pedals are true bypass pedals and can be powered by 9v or 18v power inputs or can be used with batteries.
I can’t wait to see what PRS will be coming out with next.
For full specifications and more information, visit https://prsguitars.com/products/pedals.
To purchase your very own PRS pedal, visit Sweetwater’s website at: