In the beginning, the Secret Chord started with some mods to the White Spiral that I made for the bassist in one of my bands. He liked the Girth Control in Alpha mode on the White, but it was a little too muddy him. His request was to get some of the beef and compression of Alpha mode, but with the control of the post-gain Omega mode - A subtle bridge between the two modes.
Since the Girth Control in Alpha mode overrides the stock input cap completely, and hits the gain stage hard, there isn’t much that can be done to tame it. Also when you are in Alpha Mode you are sending increasing amounts of bass to the clipping diodes. Counter-intuitively, this doesn’t result in more bass, it results in a difference in feel, compression, and distortion. So you won’t hear a huge change in tone, but you will feel a difference in sustain and gain character.
However in Omega mode, there is some room for modification. This led to the development of a second 3-way Focus Toggle that is only active when in Omega mode. The Focus toggle gives you three ways to control the input frequencies, center is stock, 1 is a 10NF cap and 3 is a 22NF cap. Think of it as adding two additional “fat” settings to Omega mode. This makes the Secret Chord play nicer with single-coil pickups, or just allows you to have additional EQ choices. By utilizing user-selectable cap networks, I am able to get useful tonal shifts without altering the sound of your guitar and amp in a detrimental way.
Originally when I made this expanded version of the White Spiral, these additional controls on the added Focus Toggle were internal dip switches that I called “Secret Settings.” But even as I was modding my bassists pedal I knew that they would work great as additional external controls.
Later I found some NOS low-noise tin-can MOSFETs that I socked away in my personal stash with plans to use them for a one-off version of the White. When I finally tried them out I LOVED how they sounded and I knew that I had to do more than a one-off pedal. Luckily I was able to secure more of these MOSFETs, and eventually found that they sounded nice and smooth in combination with 1N914 Silicon diodes.
In addition to these special parts and new features, the Secret Chord also features laser-cut soft-white powder-coat, hand-polished metal “spiritus” graphics, translucent knobs and a carefully selected non-blinding blue LED. All meant to evoke an ethereal, breathy, and airy quality mirroring how the pedal sounds.
• 3-Way Focus Toggle (Fat 1, FLAT, Fat 2)
• NOS Low-Noise Tin-Can MOSFETs
• 1N914 Silicon Diodes
• Girth Control Cap Network Controls Low Frequency Content
• A/Ω Toggle Moves Girth Pre/Post Gain
• 18v internal voltage for increased headroom
• Laser-Cut, Hand-Polished Graphics
• Hand Made In USA
The Secret Chord made the list of Best of 2020 by Demos In The Dark