Us pedal heads are totally spoilt for choice these days. With so many big name boutique brands, trailblazing modelling units, VSTs, apps and vintage stompboxes out there on the market, we can happily waste away for the rest of eternity indoors, twiddling knobs to our heart’s content while the world collapses around us in realtime. However, someday, a day will come when you start to run out of pedalboard space, and sooner or later, you’ll need to offload a plethora of old pedals in favour of one shiny new unit that’ll do it all better than you’ve ever heard it done before.
If that day should ever come, I can wholeheartedly assure you that the Zander Junipero is that one such pedal to handle all your modulation needs. This FE-1 chip digital modulation unit is one of the most unique multi-effects pedals to hit the market in recent memory, presenting eight unique and extremely tweakable effect types while retaining the sound, looks and characteristics you’d expect from a boutique brand. Zander Circuitry, who are an independent manufacturer based out of a little workshop in Essex, UK, have been slowly building a reputation for their wildly versatile and incredibly well-built pedals in recent years, and if the Junipero Aqueous Modulator is anything to go off, it looks like the future is bright for the company.
Although its smattering of seven knobs, four footswitches and six inputs and outputs might seem a bit intimidating at first - particularly without the assistance of a screen like some other boutique units - the Junipero is a relatively simple beast to tame. The first six grouped knobs control the Rate, Depth, Control (the knob for modulating the modulation, if you will), Tone, Level and Mix of the Junipero, while the singular knob below them lets you toggle between the eight effects on offer: Chorus, Multi-Voice Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, Tremolo, Harmonic Tremolo, Vibrato & Tremolo, and Ring Modulator with Aliaser, which each effect type being numbered for your convenience.
The first two footswitches of the pedal control the tempo of your modulation patch, with the first being a tap-tempo and the second being a sub-division knob for the set tempo, letting you flick through quarter notes, dotted eighths, eighth notes, triplets and sixteenth notes. The next footswitch let you choose from five presets, while the final switch engages and bypasses the Junipero. The pedal also features stereo inputs and outputs, an expression pedal input and MIDI connectivity via a 1/4” jack, which makes it all the more versatile.
Once you’ve spent an easy ten minutes reading the manual and familiarising yourself with what each control does, navigating the Junipero and coaxing its magical modulation capabilities out of your instrument is super straightforward. To start my time with the pedal, I kept things as normal as possible and only used a light dose of modulation with a clean tone to see what the situation was, and found that even in subtle amounts the Junipero still produced the goods. The first chorus mode really shines in this setting, and when you dial in a bit of detuning through the Control knob, you’ll be gifted with a nice, slightly-warbled tone that’s perfect for adding colour to an otherwise bland rhythm part.
Similarly, a bit of light tremolo or flanger can work wonders here, with the Control knob being used to dial in the mode blend for each effect: for flanger, counter-clockwise is through-zero, middle is chorus/flanger and clockwise is classic flanger, while tremolo lets you choose between sine-wave and percussive triangle-wave modulation. For more obvious modulation, simply ramp up the Tone, Mix and Level knob to find whatever tone might be lingering in your head - with the Junipero, it’s all possible.
I found the multi-voice chorus to be an absolute stunner, letting you drape your tone in a lush, wide chorus sound to function as a one-way ticket back to the heyday of chorus in the ‘80s. Whether you’re looping up sparkling ambient textures or just shredding away over some fusion licks, this one’s a certain winner. The phaser is also a time portal back to the ‘70s, delivering space-age psychedelia in spades, with the tone knob being vital towards taming the lows and highs to your liking to ensure you get the best tone possible. Similarly, the vibrato and tremolo effect can span from subtle and sweet all the way through to being wobblier than a geezer after a night on the pints - slap on a bit of delay, and you’ll fall straight into an endless wonky abyss.
For those unfamiliar with the concept of harmonic tremolo, it’s essentially a hypnotising effect that splits the high and low frequencies of your tone, flips one out of phase, and then modulates both frequencies atop of one another. It sounds like rocket science, but with the Junipero, it’s an incredibly engaging and immersive effect; perfect for those who love to tinker with trailing ambient tones and walloping walls of sound, a la Kevin Shields.
This effect accompanies the ring modulator and aliaser (basically, a bit-crusher) to complete the more drastic side of the Junipero: as you’d expect, the ring modulator is totally bonkers. For anyone who wants to make their guitar sound somewhat reminiscent of a ‘90s sampler, alien invasion and anything in-between those two extremes, it’s perfect for you. It’s probably the effect type you’ll end up using the least, but it sure is nice to have it on hand for when you need to just weird the hell out.
Perhaps to the delight of many a true tone fiend out there, the Zander Circuitry Junipero sounds absolutely sublime when run in stereo, and the way it splits your signal really is breathtaking. Some of the Junipero’s effects sound so good in stereo that it’s hard to ever consider going back to an era where you only owned a single amplifier, like the harmonic tremolo, phaser or vibrato. Running the pedal in stereo really takes you into the realms of wide, jangly rock or shoegaze, and when paired with an appropriate delay, you’ll be able to enjoy a cascading, shimmering tone unlike any other.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to check out how the Junipero worked with MIDI, but knowing how responsive Zander Circuitry are on their social channels, I daresay it’d be relatively simple to hit them up for any burning questions.
With everything on offer here, it’s truly hard to find a fault with the Zander Circuitry Junipero. It’s up there with one of the best multi-effects pedals I’ve ever used, and the level of quality and versatility it provides is unparalleled. Features like tap-tempo and subdivisions make it all the more useful in a live setting, and while five preset banks doesn’t offer an abundance of storage, it’s more than enough to get you through most gigs. However, there are 128 presets available via MIDI if you do need to break the bank - just another little feature to seal the deal
The Junipero shows its best qualities when run in stereo, making it a true wonder to play and a welcome addition to the collection of any self-respecting shoegazer, jangle rocker, post-punker or dream-popper. If you want a boutique modulation pedal capable of handling a zillion different tones without fully embracing a modelling unit, I seriously doubt you’ll find anything that trumps what the Junipero brings to the party.
Mocha Earth Music are currently offering a 15% store-wide discount - head to their website to check out the Junipero and more boutique pedals today.
Hits and Misses
So much modulation! A incredibly versatile pedal
Sounds amazing in stereo
Tap-tempo and sub-division is a winner
Having a few extra preset storage slots would be nice - although running a MIDI rig solves this issue