Premier Guitar Maxon VJR-9 and AD999 Review November 2009

PREMIER GUITAR - November, 2009

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One of my all time favorite pedals is an old, beat up Ibanez FL-9 Flanger.  I still use it, and it’s definitely seen the rigors of the road.  I’ve kept it for so long because it has a much understated effect on guitar tone.  It never gets overbearing or cheesy-sounding, and it provides a nice, subtle flange that gives the tone extra depth and dimension, making it perfect for clean rhythm work.  Maxon, the company that Ibanez originally commissioned to design the effect, has recently released a hopped-up predecessor to its famous yellow ancestor, dubbed the Vintage Jet Riser Flanger.

With a 2009 G&L ASAT Classic plugged into a Fender Deluxe Reverb reissue, my favorite flange tone was preserved in the Jet Riser, and with clearer presence than before.  With the FL-9 set to moderate settings, it almost seemed at times that the flange wasn’t even on…just something in the mix that was causing the guitar to exhibit slight traits of modulation.  The Jet Riser can demonstrate the same effect, but there’s a more apparent flange affecting the tone.  You can hear it moving its way through the frequency spectrum in the background.  The Jet knob, which controls the intensity of the effect, works hand in hand with the Width control and was capable of reproducing some great classic flanging effects from the grunge era, a’la the Smashing Pumpkins classic “Love.”  For the players who like to push their effects into newer, stranger sonic territories, the Jet Riser features a Sensitivity control.  I recorded myself playing chunky fifths into my Boss RC-2 and ran the loop into the Jet Riser, playing with the Sensitivity control as the playback commenced.  As the knob goes up, the effect starts to exhibit a strange “wash out” effect, as if the flanger circuit is distorting.  It’s a really neat sound, but one that should be used in moderation, as the highest settings can result in a garbled mess of white noise.

From subtle to downright strange, the Maxon Vintage Jet Riser should satisfy any player’s flange cravings.  – Jordan Wagner

RATING – 4.5 / 5


Maxon has a long history of producing some of the most celebrated effect pedals ever.  In the 1970’s, they were commissioned by Ibanez to design and build an effects line that eventually resulted in the Fuzz/Wah, the famed TS808 Tube Screamer, TS-9 Tube Screamer and the AD-9 Analog Delay, amongst others.  

Several years ago Maxon shifted gears and decided to market their own line of Maxon-branded effects, utilizing rare NOS (new old stock) components and newer technologies, such as true bypass circuitry.  The AD999 Pro Analog Delay, one of the newest entries in their Vintage Series, picks up on concepts from their renowned AD-9 and AD999 analog delays and pushes them even further, utilizing a new noise reduction circuit and a “Multi-Head” mode, which simulates older tape delays that used multiple tape heads to create huge, atmospheric sounds.  

ad999 pro analog delay - winner of premier gear awardWith a Grosh ElectraJet Standard into a Mesa/Boogie Electra-Dyne half stack, I was easily able to coax out some excellent slap-back tones that were some of the warmest and most dynamic I’ve heard in years.  The sound definitely took me back to when I had an original Ibanez AD80 (another Maxon design), using it with very small repeat and delay settings to help thicken my rhythm sound.  Gradually, I added in each of the three Multi-Head mode switches to create a swashing backdrop of cavernous delay, perfect for wide, ethereal soundscapes.  Maxon explains that each switch adds midstream delay signals (which are taken from the middle of the delay circuit), which give the AD999 Pro the ability to emulate fabled tape delays of yore, such as the Roland RE-201 Space Echo.  Lovers of digital delay will probably want to look elsewhere, as the AD999 Pro’s high end frequencies are rolled off and the overall delay tone has a very fuzzy, unclear flavor to it.  For devotees of vintage analog delay sounds however. The AD999 Pro is a perfect choice.  – Jordan Wagner

RATING – 5.0 (perfect score) and winner of Premier Guitar’s “Premier Gear” award