Price paid: $ 148
Purchased from: Carl Martin
Ease of Use — 9
The Purple Moon is more than easy enough to use… do you want a shimmering vibe, a pulsating vibe or something between? How much vibe do you want in the mix and how loud should it be? The same with the fuzz… just a little bit, or dirty and nasty? The trick, however, is two-fold – mixing both vibe and fuzz together (if that’s desired), since they interact with each other, but also getting those settings correct and relative to your amp and cab. To explain the latter point, I found one setting to sound like a messy disaster with a particular amp/cab setting (on my Axe Fx II), but super sweet and a bit vicious with a different amp and cab combination. Obviously high-gain aggressive amps (e.g., 5150) will require a more tamed Purple Moon setting than it would with vintage style amps (e.g., Fender Twin). Lastly, Purple Moon has nice bright LEDs to know when the unit is on, but also which vibe is chosen. You can operate it via a 9v battery, or a power adapter (standard female 100mA minimum).
Sound — 10
Many effects units can claim vintage sound, but the Carl Martin Purple Moon delivers in spades. Even when I try to utilize it in a more modern setting (e.g., high-gain amp) that 60s silicon saturated fuzz sizzle still punches through, and the vibe will give you David Gilmourish chills up your spine. Beautiful sounding pedal!
Now, if you noticed, I said that it has fuzz and vibe, which makes this pedal unique (and at a price you usually would pay for only a vibe pedal). You can have a lot of fuzz and no vibe, tons of vibe and no fuzz, and any combination between. Purely analog, the Purple Moon has taken 1960s and 1970s effects and made them crystal clear for more modern standards. Sometimes a fuzz or vibe can sound muddy or a bit messy, but these do not. I also should add how sensitive this pedal is… a little tweaking goes a long way with the vibe, and the fuzz is obvious when the ‘amount’ and ‘level’ are at their lowest levels.
Below is a sound sample of the Purple Moon, first demonstrating some vibe settings, and then the fuzz. Thereafter I utilized the pedal, but not in a traditional sense. There are other videos demonstrating the Purple Moon as was intended (e.g., Strat in a Fender Twin, for example). I stuck with my style of composition, which may include older rock style riffs, but with a more modern punch in tone (more aggressive high-gain amps) and playing style. Even so, the Purple Moon sounds pretty good without much messing around (I did not tweak and try to get the best tones possible, but simply created a composition with my typical 5150 amp settings in my Axe Fx II sound unit).
Reliability & Durability — 9
The Purple Moon is very straight forward… die cast metal casing with heavy gauge metal selector stomp knobs and plastic turning knobs (with enough clearance between the two that you shouldn’t be stepping on the plastic knobs). Both input and output are out the back of the pedal, which may be preferred by some, whereas others may like the in and out along the sides; I’m OK with this layout since it allows you to fit pedals tighter together, whereas others may be more fussy (fuzzy) about such details.
Overall Impression — 9
The quality of the Purple Moon’s sound is solid, as is the build. It also is the only pedal on the market that offers two different vibe speeds with fuzz. The two vibe settings are cool, since you can switch from shimmer to a pulse, the latter of which sounds like a Leslie rotary speaker is slapping you in the face! Each one has its own LED light which stays lit even when the pedal is bypassed so you know which vibe is selected. You will be hard pressed not to play any early Pink Floyd once you get it connected.
My only complaint, and likely a common complaint of a typical user, is that the fuzz knobs are small – sandwiched between the larger knobs dedicated to the vibe. I’m a studio musician and so no big deal at my end… I can stop my recording and do any adjustment, if necessary. The bypass may annoy some people, in that it switches off both fuzz and vibe; in order to keep the fuzz and get rid of the vibe (or vice versa) you need to turn down the volume of one or the other. However, having extra switches to engage and disengage both effects could make the pedal more cumbersome. Nonetheless, I’m a bit off track since the circuits work together. In essence, the fuzz interacts with the vibe (the fuzz is within the vibe’s circuit), and so I do understand the manufacturer’s design decision within the Purple Moon’s build.
I consider this a vibe pedal primarily, and it does it so well. The fuzz is an added bonus that gives a guitar tone some warmth or severe nastiness, depending on how you want to mix it. If you’re looking for a dirt pedal this may not be the best answer (and maybe it is if you like the quality of the Purple Moon’s fuzz); however, if you want that cool warble or shimmer along with some dirt, then this could be the perfect pedal for your board.