The Morley EVO-1; one of the holy grails of stupid, antiquated pedal-collecting. It’s a monster-sized beast that accomplished one tiny effect. It has… a really, really short echo. But when it came out, how fucking novel! In a world before BBD chips, in a time of oil… this is the oil can echo.
This was a broken EVO-1 that I picked up online. The base was rotten and the echo did not echo. I fixed it all up and did meticulous work photographing everything. And then my computer crashed. This was in 2014. So, it’s been awhile. In lieu of the gigantic photo essay I had planned, I’m gonna take my time and retrace my steps. If you want to know more about oil-can audio technology now, see my previous article on the Morley RWV Rotating Wah I refurbished. If you want to see a simple way to mod the circuit board to make an EVO-1 more powerful, for the 2-6 people who actually own one that works, read on!
So you think you’re analog, eh? You always use physical faders for your volume swells, you only record to tape, and you have that nifty vibrato guitar pedal with a BBD IC chip. I call bullshit. That’s not analog enough! An IC chip? Well, domo arigato, Mr. Roboto, but no arigato. If you want that pedal to be even more analog, you need to send your guitar signal through an aluminum disc covered in oil to rubber pickups. WTF? Here’s one of the biggest stomp boxes you’re likely to ever see, the Tel-Ray Morley RWV Rotating Wah.
Raymond Lubow invented the oil can echo in the 1960s for his company, Tel-Ray Electronics, to be a more reliable device than the tape-based echoes of the time. Smaller than a tape echo, it was also able to be added by amplifier manufacturers to their products. It uses an aluminum disc rotating in an electrostatic oil which brushes against conductive rubber pickups to carry the sound. Raymond used the same technology to create the Morley rotating speaker simulator and shove it into a pedal. The name was a pun on the Leslie (less-lee) rotating cabinet speaker. Thus a company was born and we all got ever-so confused. Now imagine you have a broken one. Fuck.
This is by far the biggest pedal you’ll ever find that does so little. The Morley VOL volume pedal is a gigantic chrome monstrosity, powered directly by AC and it does one thing: turn you down. Looking at an original from the ’70s, gleaming and polished, it’s definitely a beauty, but is it worth it?
The first thing ya gotta ask yerself, do you need a volume pedal? Guitars and basses usually have a knob that does the same thing right there next to your hand. You should try using it! There are those, however, who might use a volume pedal for swells and, uh… that’s pretty much it. Presuming you need a volume pedal, it’s best to take a closer look before you make room on your pedal board for this one-trick pony that’s the size of a pony.
This monster, the Morley Power Wah Fuzz, came to me via Sir John Cadbury Cobbett.
On his former quest to have the largest pedal board in the world, partially I think to mock me and my increasing effects collection, John decided to collect some old Tel-Ray Morley pedals. I knew they had a wah and volume pedal, but I really had no idea how many effects this company produced in the ’70s. Rotating Wahs and echos utilizing oil cans, flangers and phasers whose sweep could be automatic or controlled by one’s foot, some weird shit called a pik-a-wah that used a metal pick to wah while you played? And they all came in the same gigantic big chrome box that just says, “America, fuck yeah.”
It was a strange weekend in the Bay Area. It had been so nice, but all of a sudden it was stormy out, lightening was crashing, and the smell of boiled beets was in the air. Obviously, splatterthrashers Ghoul were in town.
The original hooded menaces in Ghoul have often journied to Oakland in the past. I think there must be some kind of special travel deal or a direct flight from their homeland of Creepsylvania to Oakland. I shudder to think of what their passport photos must look like. This time, they were in town to record their long-awaited follow up album to 2006’s Splatterthrash. I guess Mr. Fang’s wax cylinder recording device must’ve been in the shop, because I found the Ghouls at Oakland’s vaunted Earhammer Studios, a place well known to record some of the best doom, crust and punk coming out of the Bay Area. I’m sure they felt right at home in the depressed neighborhood with people pushing their entire belongings about in shopping carts, not unlike the wheelbarrows of their European homeland. Just less donkey shit everywhere.
Hammers of Misfortune is the brainchild of my bandmate in Ludicra, Sir John “Cadbury” Cobbett. They are in the midst of working on a new record to be released on Metal Blade sometime in the future.
I got the call from John. “I need my pedal back.” Crap. The pedal I was supposed to fine tune. Oops. Oh well, I got it working, at least. Problem is, I was working in Oakland, and John is hard at work in South San Francisco. And it’s rush hour. So I guess after getting here I’m sticking around and writing about what the fuck Hammers is nailing down.