By Doug Young
Acoustic guitars seem to lose something when amplified. As soon as you plug in, all the things you love about your instrument seem to disappear—the tone of the wood, the resonances, and the sense of being surrounded by swirls of sound—leaving only a one-dimensionality that partially resembles the acoustic tone of the guitar. In an attempt to restore that missing element, TC Electronic has introduced the BodyRez acoustic pickup enhancer. TC Electronic has a rich history of creating innovative and high-quality electronic effects for both electric and acoustic guitars, as well as studio processors and more. The BodyRez effect first appeared in TC’s Play Acoustic processor, a multi-effects unit that also offers such vocal effects as harmony and reverb. The stand-alone BodyRez pedal brings Play Acoustic’s guitar processing to those who don’t need or want the vocal effects, and in a smaller, much less expensive package.
Simple & Small
The BodyRez pedal is both stunningly small and extremely simple. At just over one-and-a-half inches wide, the unit will easily fit on even the smallest pedal board—or in your pocket. The controls are limited to a single multi-function footswitch and a body control you can use to dial in the amount of effect you want. It features ¼-inch input and output jacks, and power jack—the pedal must be powered by an external nine-volt power adaptor (included). There’s also a USB port for installing possible future firmware updates, and an LED that indicates the status of the unit.
The footswitch is cleverly designed to perform multiple functions. By default, you press to activate the effect, triggering a red LED, and press again to return to a True Bypass mode. But you can also press and hold for a few seconds to mute the sound, so you can tune or switch guitars. In addition, you can change to an alternate mode that controls phase by pressing the footswitch while plugging in the power.
The most interesting control is the body dial. Turned to the left, the sound is unchanged from bypass mode. Turning the knob to the right dials in increasing amounts of the preconfigured BodyRez sound. TC is a bit cagey about exactly what the BodyRez effect does, but it’s clear that there is some kind of EQ being applied—TC says it’s using “filters”—and also some compression. The audible effect is a somewhat scooped midrange—the BodyRez seems to cut a several-octave range centered around 700 Hz, which is often a problematic frequency range for acoustic pickups. With the reduced midrange comes a bigger bottom end and more shimmering highs. The compression is most noticeable when the effect is dialed in at 100 percent, but you can feel it even at lower settings.
I tried the BodyRez pedal with several different pickups, under saddle and soundboard transducers, and found the effect to be generally pleasing with each one. BodyRez seems particularly useful for strumming, where the combination of EQ and compression killed some of the harshness of the middle frequencies, smoothed out the overall sound, and provided a feeling of both power and presence. When playing fingerstyle at the 100 percent setting, I lost the mids I needed to bring out the melody, but it was possible to dial the effect back while still retaining a bit of the smoothness and EQ treatment.
Good Sound in a Single Box
The BodyRez may not be for everyone. If you prefer to maintain total control over your tone and don’t mind tweaking lots of knobs, you may be able to achieve similar results with separate boxes for EQ, compression, and feedback suppression. But TC Electronic has done a marvelous job of combining these effects along with just the right amount of secret sauce. To top it off, they’ve packaged everything in a single box that is small, simple, and extremely effective, allowing you to restore much of what gets lost in the amplification process by twisting a single knob.
- Standard ¼-inch input and output jacks
- 1 megohm input impedance
- Single “body” knob to control filters and compression
- Built-in feedback suppression
- Nine-volt power supply included
- Multi-function footswitch, controlling on/off, mute, polarity reversal
- LED indicator
- USB port for software updates
- 7 ounces. 1.9 x 1.9 x 3.7 inches
- $149.99 list/$99.99 street
- Designed in Denmark
- Made in Thailand