Current Pedal Obsession: TKOG Mini Glitch.
The complete guide to this microlooper-in-disguise.
If you’da asked, I’da told you this would happen. When The King of Gear released the Mini Glitch as Jonny-Greenwood-in-a-pedal, it was easy to see beyond this device’s superb glitching to its microlooping possibilities. Originally designed for Radiohead fans, this pedal’s usefulness has put it on the pedalboards of ambient, jazz, acoustic and non-guitar players.
Why the Mini Glitch is da bee’s meow.
The Mini Glitch offers the most flexibility of any pedal for straight-up glitching. The glitches can be timed or random and triggered with the footswitch, by playing threshold or completely random. In September 2020, v1.2 of the Mini Glitch was released. It gives you the option of eliminating the “clickiness” commonly associated with glitch pedals. Many who like aggressive glitching love the clicks, but when removed from the equation, it opens up the pedal for smoother, hold-and-microlooping possibilities that non-Radiohead emulators are gravitating to.
Another factor is that Mini Glitch really has two functions: random glitching and timed microlooping. Microlooping lets you play with the repeats and glitching lets you play against them.
If you have a v1.1 board (as noted when you remove the bottom plate) TKOG will update the code for you for the cost of shipping. For a fee they can also install a jumper to switch between clickless and clicky code or add a volume knob (as I’ve done with mine in the photo and I highly recommend). You can contact them at: thekingofgear at gmail dot com for arrangements.
What can Mini Glitch do beyond glitching a distorted signal?
Many of these how-tos mimic familiar effects, but are achieved in the Mini Glitch’s unique ways. I’m sure you want to hear what the pedal itself sounds like, so no other pedals were used unless noted. All demos with a Beat Root tongue drum and the v1.2 code.
Even when not engaged, the Mini Glitch is always recording. So you get a loop of 8ms to 1000ms of whatever is in memory when you hit the footswitch. When the Sample Size knob is at 5p, this creates a 60-bpm rhythm.
Play something and immediately hold the footswitch. There’s a dropout at the loop seam that creates a rhythm, even if all you’ve recorded is noise. If you like the idea of simple accompaniment but don’t like the complexities of a looper, Mini Glitch is worth the board space. The demo has a few examples of playing over the loop.
Not like a true freeze pedal (that takes a few milliseconds of sound and blends it into a often-boring hum) the glitches can be made short to a second and soft or hard to sound like a freeze run through a fast, square-wave tremolo.
This effect works best when the internal Output trimmer has been turned down a little bit. I wait a two-count after the initial attack before hitting the footswitch. This captures smoother sustain for a subtle pad, but if you want the harshness of the attack you can engage closer to the strike. The demo has no processing afterwards so you can hear what the raw effect sounds like. Follow it with a little reverb to help blend the seams.
This takes tremolo to new places, coming up under your playing and remaining while sustain dies out.
Engage it on sustains or hold it and play new notes overtop.
This continually samples and repeats at random intervals behind playing, somewhat like a random tremolo.
Engage the footswitch. (It may not turn blue immediately since blue indicates the MG is playing back.) You can adjust the speed of random changes by holding the footswitch and turning the Sample Size knob (9a for quick, 5p for slow). When the Mini Glitch sites between your predictable, boring-old delay and your reverb this setting can add some unpredictability. Especially nice when the delay feedback in up and around forever.
Similar to above but without the dry signal. This randomly gates, then stutters your signal. It’s the Jonny Greenwood effect that Mini Glitch was designed for. This can be a cool effect following a freeze or ambient reverb pedal and before a delay to add some personality.
Engage the footswitch. (It may not turn blue immediately since blue indicates random playback.) You can adjust the speed of random changes by holding the footswitch and turning the Sample Size knob (9a for quick, 5p for slow).
And here’s a fun one of birds done with the above settings and the Electro Faustus Photo Theremin as the sound source:
Maybe Mini Glitch should be a requirement for all theremins.
A sorta delay.
The Threshold mode can be used as an auto-looper with a new loop playing every time you hit a chord or note that’s louder than the threshold.
To mimic a delay: play a chord, wait two or three repeats then strike again. For this, you may want to turn down the output volume with the internal trimmer. You can set the sensitivity of the threshold by holding the footswitch and turning the Sample Size knob up to trigger (or not trigger) with softer playing. If the sensitivity is high, the threshold may remain open and just repeat the tail of the note or chord. It’s glitchy. Try it with short sample and slow strums.
You can also play over the previous repeat as like you would one pass of a delay. This takes some practice to hit the threshold just right. This sounds best with the Sample Size knob maxed.
Mini Glitch is always recording the last second of sound passing through. After you hit on a nice few notes, grab the passage by holding the footswitch. Play it a time or three and let go.
This is a cool way to emphasize a few notes without having everything run through a delay.
A sorta ring mod.
A little secret of the Mini Glitch: The Threshold and Switch mode slowly fade out over time. This takes minutes with longer samples, but when samples are super short and you get ring modulation with noticeable fade.
You can set the sensitivity of the threshold by holding the footswitch and turning the Sample Size knob up to trigger with softer playing.
A sorta attack/decay pedal.
Not a very convincing A/D Pedal, but this one hacks off a harsh attack. It can be useful running it into a reverse delay to avoid the sharp attack that can happen at the end of the reverse effect.
Hold down the footswitch before you start playing to mute the incoming signal. Play a note or chord. Wait a second or two until the sound mellows. Then quickly release and press the footswitch. Play another note or chord and quickly release and press the footswitch again.
Reducing the sample to digital noise.
Turning the Sample Size knob when a sample is repeating will resample the sample and turn it into digital scratching.
Play and tap the footswitch to repeat the loop. You can now corrupt the sample by tweaking the Sample Size knob. The more you turn, the more it resamples and corrupts until you’re left with a digital buzzing. The pitch will also change with faster turning of the knob. Note: This sounds smoother on the v1.1 software.
Glitch the glitch
Another way to corrupt a longer sample is to cut into it or add dropouts by quickly punching-in with the footswitch.
Play something and hold the footswitch. Quickly lift up and then hold the footswitch again. Each time you quickly let up and then hold while playing, more audio will be cut into the existing sample. If you’re not playing, you can create drop-outs in the loop.
Pedals before and after.
While the Mini Glitch specializes in unadulterated glitching, it’s easy to control its personality with pedals before and after. If you’re looking for traditional Greenwood sounds, MG is designed so dirt before and after work well, but here are some ideas that will help you decide where the Mini Glitch lives in your chain:
Pedals before Since Mini Glitch stutters and repeats your signal, it’s excellent for following and corrupting things that can become monotonous like freezes, ambience, drones and pads. Mini Glitch’s random nature can take the monotony out of sustain, hold, ambient reverb and looper loops.
Pedals after While Mini Glitch on random settings can relieve monotony in pedals before it in the chain, it can cause monotony when used as a 1-second looper. The repeats benefit from slow modulation (like flanger or phase) after it in the chain. Reverb works well to soften the seams of glitches. Delay can sync with repeats on the microloop settings, or can be completely off kilter with the random settings to spice up your delay. Since the Threshold mode has a trigger, placing compression after the Mini Glitch instead of before will give you more control of whether the trigger will fire or not, making it easier to trigger on chords, and play over it on softer solos.
Because there are so many glitching possibilities within the Mini Glitch, you might consider it’s own parallel effects loop. Pitch shifting and modulation can work well in a loop.
I don’t think of the Mini Glitch as glitch pedal at all. If you do, it limits your thinking of all the uses for this pedal. At its core its a sample repeater, but it’s a chameleon capable of mimicking delay, freeze, tremolo, etc., or just randomizing your playing. While full-bore glitching may not be your thing, Mini Glitch can add a lot of quirky capability to your pedalboard.
For the spectators: 9v, 100mA, SPIN chip, analog dry, not true bypass.
Does TKOG pay me to endorse their pedal? Nada cent. I bought this pedal, paid to have it modded and did this how-to because it’s on my board more often than not. So if you’ve found this useful, buying me a coffee is much appreciated.