[review] Red Witch Violetta - Delay with Expression Control (by Bieke)

Red Witch Violetta

Have you ever heard of Red Witch pedals? If you have, you’re probably a bit of a pedal geek, if you haven’t, well any aspiring pedal geek should look into Red Witch pedals designed by Ben Fulton in New Zealand. Really. Red Witch has been manufacturing pedals for more than 10 years already, so chances are big you’ve heard of them. I think the first pedal was a phaser, I could be wrong but that’s the first one I remember seeing. Red Witch has been growing ever since, every year or so a new pedal was added to their range of boutique pedals. So, even if you have no ambition whatsoever to become a pedal geek, Red Witch still has a great arsenal of fine effect pedals that will help you shape your sound.

About 3 year ago, Red Witch further diversified and released the 7 Sisters, a cutesy series of seven different compact effect pedals, powered by rechargeable lithium ion batteries. A really cool idea and an astonishingly well designed series of pedals, not strictly targeted at the boutique crowd, not exactly cheap, but not really expensive either, let’s say attractively priced.

And now, more recently, Red Witch released the Violetta delay, the first pedal in the Original Chrome Series, it kind of uses the best of both Red Witch strengths, boutique sounds in a compact, rechargeable pedal.

The Looks

Looks dandy. A shiny chrome pedal, feels solid, and quite heavy even though it is really compact in size.

From the look and feel of the Violetta, I somehow get the feeling that it must sound good. Hmmm, looks can be deceiving of course, but judging from the controls and extras, this pedal seems to have a lot in store. Lovely graphics too.

The controls are :

  • Delay - delay time up to 1000ms
  • Mix – to blend wet and dry signals
  • Mod – adds modulation
  • Repeat – to go from slap back all the way to self oscillating mayhem
  • True bypass soft switch, and 2 LEDS, a status LED and a Battery Charge Indicator LED

On the right side there’s an Exp Out that lets you control the repeat level by means of an expression pedal. On the left side, you can plug in a 9V DC adapter to power the pedal or charge the internal lithium ion battery. The battery needs a 12 hour charge for starters, after which recharging will take much less time. And it is absolutely wonderful not having to bother with batteries or wall-warts to use this pedal. Really cool feature. The lithium ion batteries have a lifetime of 2 years, and if you need to replace it, you need to take off the bottom lid, and plug it into a dedicated battery socket. In- and Outputs are on top. Nice layout.

Red Witch Violetta DelayThe sounds

Well, the Violetta is an analog voiced digital delay. Yup, the delay sounds remarkably warm and as analog as analog gets. Never gave me the impression I was fondling with a digital pedal.

The delay time goes from ultra short, slap back style echo (very convincing) to one second delay.

The repeat control goes from single repeat, gradually adding repeats (again, in a very musical and intuitive manner) with the high end being cut off as the repeats roll off into darkness. Turning the repeat control further up gradually generates lush ambient repeats and further up the self oscillating starts rolling in (again, very analog sounding). The repeats can also be controlled with an expression pedal. The delay repeats stay clean pretty much all the way until decay with a slight hint of muddiness added to the last few repeats. Very natural and organic sounding repeats.

The modulation control adds that typical wow & flutter to the repeats, a sounds reminiscent of old tape echo units. The Violetta really does a convincing tape echo simulation. The Mod control interacts with the Time control in an interesting way. Faster modulation with shorter delay time, and slower sweeps with long modulation times. Higher settings on the Mod control can even add a detuning effect, again sounding similar to those old tape echo units. At moderate settings, the Mod control adds a nice shimmery chorus style effect. I turned down the Mod control to check if the Violetta can produce cold sterile digital delay style sounds. Nope. The analog warmth is always there.

The Mix control is very useful to blend the delay effect with your dry sound, so you can get anything from subtle delay to full blown delay repeats.

The verdict

A really good delay pedal, not a jack of all trades like the various multi-mode delay pedals out there, but just an incredible musical and inspiring little delay pedal, ever so practical and easy to use. This may sound a little stupid, but it really seems as if the pedal has a soul that interacts with the music you’re playing. Hmmm, it looks killer too.

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