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Fairfield Circuitry - Shallow Water

Mon Jun 28 2021
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The Shallow Water by Fairfield Circuitry is a modulation pedal that get's a lot of hype around the internet. And I can totally see why after plugging it in.

Most people might think of it as a fancy chorus and vibrato pedal. But it's more than that. It's a vibe machine for lo-fi and nostalgic sounds. It creates very musical movement in your sound and adds a lot of character that other modulation pedals don't offer.

There is of course some technical reasons behind why that is so, most probably that this is a k-field modulator. I'm not expert enough to explain what that means. Feel free to check out the manual from Fairfield Circuitry's website to get the nitty gritty details.

From just twiddling with the knobs a lot, here's what makes the Shallow Water so special to my ears:

  • Random modulation. Instead of predictable modulation with some kind of waveform, the modulation is randomized and thus feels more "interesting".
  • The LPG knob (low pass filter and gate circuit). In short: If you play louder, the low pass filter opens up and the sound gets brighter (and a little noisier which gives it even more lo-fi vibes). If you play softer, the signal darkens and sounds more muffled. Turning up the LPG knob increases the sensitivity to your playing dynamics.
  • The damp control. It controls the slope of the pitch modulation. This is different than just modulation intensity (controlled by the depth knob). Rather, this controls the softness/hardness of the modulation. That's why you can dial in sweet and lush chorus sounds with the Shallow Water as well as seasick vibrato swirls.

Also, I have to gush about the build quality and design a bit: No video demo quite captures how nice this pedals feels in your hands. The choice of knobs, how the aluminum enclosure is polished (from a distance, it just looks like raw aluminum, but it's much nicer up close), the foot switch that feels soft but still has a little click to it and the status LED that turns on with a slight ease effect instead of just being abruptly on.

I can wholeheartedly recommend the Shallow Water if you're into lo-fi and ambient sounds or you want your bandmates to turn their heads during practice and have them ask "What is that?!".

Signal chain:

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