Today’s Vintage Pedal of the Week entry might only be known by some, but the few who know these pedals absolutely swear by them. Today we’re spotlighting Arion pedals, a budget Japanese pedal maker whose pedals only really became appreciated shortly after their unfortunate discontinuation. Much like when we covered Pearl pedals, these Japanese pedals were predominantly made for the budget Japanese market with their presence only really making their way stateside in the 80’s and 90’s.
Photo credit: Arion Pedals Facebook Fan Page
Arion pedals were all analog effects pedals manufactured and sold by Prince Tsushinkogyo Ltd. The effects pedals while made with the budget musician in mind. Arion pedals sometimes featured identical hardware as their pricier competition an example being, the Arion SCH-1 chorus featuring the same chip as the BOSS CE-3 at the time. While most pedals at the time were all mono input/ouput Arion managed to produce quality stereo effects. Arion’s internal circuitry and design allowed for some quality boutique sounding effects at an affordable price. The affordable price point came as most of Arion pedal enclosures were made of a cheap plastic. Visually they were very similar to some Ibanez pedals of the 80’s. If you physically handled an Arion pedal it will feel very delicate and flimsy to the touch. Very similar to BOSS pedals, Arion pedals switches were accessed under a latch that you’d press down on. Arion pedals were similar in size to their BOSS counterparts with the exception of some of the larger combination effects they produced.
Most of the pedals produced by Arion ran the gamut of your standard range of effects, Delay, Equalizer, Phaser, Tremolo, Overdrive, Compression, Chorus etc. Arion produced a stereo counterpart for almost all of their available effects in addition to some “larger” pedals such as the DDS-4 Digital Delay/Sampler. With four seconds of sampling and the ability to modify the sample in the delay section these made for some incredibly versatile pedals. These larger pedals Arion produced also featured a Digital Chorus/Flanger and the DDS-1 (one second as opposed to four).
Photo credit: banzaimusic
Arion’s ability to produce quality analog stereo effects is what has made them so highly sought after today. While limited to pedal enthusiasts and collectors, more musicians are coming around to Arion. The stereo delay, stereo chorus and stereo reverb are the most highly coveted Arion effects. Unfortunately like most pedal companies that were ahead of their time the company folded as they lived under the shadows of BOSS and Ibanez. Arion quietly began reissuing a selection of their pedals in 2011 being made available on Allparts.com. (From my understanding they’re also available again in Japan). Your mileage may vary, but they come short of the original magic they had in the eighties.
Arion is another perfect example of budget effects being neglected because of their price point. Much like Behringer of today, you can’t underestimate an effect just because it was marketed as affordable or cheap. The sounds produced by cheap pedals rival that of their expensive counterparts, and some of these cheap pedals might surprise you with what you might individually be able to come up with. Never sleep on any effects pedal company because it’s “budget.”
Photo credit: studio1525
If you think you’ve stumbled onto a one of a kind pedal that no ones heard of, or if there’s a vintage pedal you want to hear more about, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org The market is always changing, so that hidden gem or cheap pedal you found in a pawn shop might be worth more than you got it for. Regardless of price it’s all about how much a pedal is worth to you, new, old, cheap, vintage, reissue etc. You can check Reverb, eBay and Craigslist for Arion pedals and you can learn more about Arion effects here.