Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Review: smallsound/bigsound Sparkle Motion

The Sparkle Motion is a Dallas Rangemaster clone at heart (complete with a germanium transistor for that extra mojo), but just by looking at it you've probably already realized that the Sparkle Motion is more than a simple treble booster. It offers much more control than your standard Rangemaster clone. Keep reading to find out all the incredible things this boost can do for your tone.

The Sparkle Motion is built solidly all around, everything feels and looks great. The input and output jacks as well as the 9V plug are all top mounted which is the best setup in my opinion. The four knobs and switch offer an incredible amount of control over your sound. It features input and output volume, an EQ control and a bias pot along with a switch that interacts with the EQ. When the switch is up it allows you to boost bass at the input stage which can create a gainer, darker tone. When the switch is down the EQ only controls bass at the output. Basically up is darker and down is brighter and has less gain. The bias knob gives the user the ability tune the boost in varying temperature conditions (remember germanium transistors are a bit finicky when it comes to temperature). Also you can use it to make your tone more rough or smooth and clean.

The Sounds
With the increased amount of control, the Sparkle Motion is much more versatile than most treble boosters. Over the past few weeks I've discovered many useful applications for it in my rig. I almost always have it on to add some sparkle to my clean tones. Once I heard the sweet shine it added to my clean tone, I couldn't turn it off. Sometimes I crank the input and output volumes and turn back the bias and use it as a rough, low gain overdrive. The Sparkle Motion is very responsive to picking dynamics. It's really easy to dig in and add some dirt and just as easy to lighten your picking attack to clean things up. Also it works really well as a darker boost for my fuzz pedals while still adding some needed presence to my sound. Hell, I even cranked the treble up on it and used it to boost a darker fuzz for a tight, trebly thrash tone. I'd be surprised to find anyone who couldn't find a use for it! Listen to some clips demonstrating some of my favorite uses for this pedal.

SparkleClean by Mike Fetting
This clip showcases the subtle treble boost I use with my clean tone and also how you can use picking dynamics for more or less dirt. The clip starts with just the amp, the Sparkle Motion is then engaged later (as notated in the comments).
SparkleOverdrive by Mike Fetting
This clip showcases the Sparkle Motion being used as a bright, low gain overdrive.
SparkleThrash by Mike Fetting
This clip demonstrates how the Sparkle can tighten up looser amps or fuzz pedals and add some treble and presence (obviously) to your tone. The fuzz used in this clip was a Catalinbread Manx Loaghtan. The clip starts with just the Manx and I later engage the Sparkle Motion.

SparkleDark by Mike Fetting
In this clip the Sparkle is being used as more of a darker boost for the Manx Loaghtan Fuzz. The clip starts with just the Manx and I later engage the Sparkle Motion.

Final Verdict
This is the only boost I can see myself owning, it does everything I need it to do and more. It's my always on boost, it makes my clean tone shine, it's a great low gain overdrive and it's an excellent boost for my fuzz collection. Did I mention it was only $125? Smallsound/bigsound offered a special deal on the first run of 15 of these. They will be going into regular production shortly and I'm guessing at a bit higher price point (I doubt it will be over $150 though). After playing the Sparkle Motion I will never pay $200+ for a boutique Rangemaster when the Sparkle Motion has the same circuit and an impressive amount of control. If you're looking for any kind of boost, you ought to at least give the Sparkle Motion a look, it'll take care of your boosting needs and then some.

If you would like more info on the Sparkle Motion, you can find some on smallsound/bigsound's website and you can find the manual here.

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