In this comprehensive Montreal Assembly Count to Five review, we’ll dive deep into what makes this pedal tick, its features, how it sounds, and whether it’s worth adding to your pedalboard.
I’ve played guitar for over 25 years, in a variety of styles, and owned a huge amount of pedals over the years. I also have a love for weird guitar pedals, and the Montreal Assembly Count to Five certainly counts as weird, in the best way possible.
If you’re into more standard pedals, check out our review of the best reverb pedals.
The Montreal Assembly Count to Five is a super fun pedal that has a steep learning curve, but rewards a little determination. This truly unique pedal will help you stand out from the crowd.
This video by Knobs is a great summary of the features:
So let’s dive into our Montreal Assembly Count to Five review.
Pros and Cons of the Montreal Assembly Count to Five
- Creativity: Encourages experimental and creative sound design, allowing for unique sonic textures.
- Versatility: Features multiple modes that provide a wide array of sound manipulation options, including delays, pitch-shifting, granular slicing, and looping.
- Updates: The ability to update firmware adds new features and improvements, enhancing its versatility and longevity.
- User Community: An active community of users regularly share settings, tips, and tutorials, making it easier to master the pedal.
- Unique Soundscapes: Capable of generating sound textures and layers that are difficult to achieve with other pedals.
- Expression Pedal Input: Allows for dynamic control of various parameters in real-time, adding an extra layer of expressiveness.
- Complexity: The pedal has a steep learning curve and takes time to understand and master.
- Limited Memory: Its limited loop length can be restrictive for those looking for extended looping compositions.
- Availability: Often produced in limited runs, making it hard to find and possibly more expensive than other options.
- Niche Appeal: Its experimental nature may not suit all musicians or musical genres.
- Interdependent Controls: The controls are highly interactive with each other, which can make it challenging to predict the outcome and may require extensive experimentation.
Design and Build Quality
First impressions matter, and the Count to Five doesn’t disappoint. Housed in a rugged metal casing, the Count to Five exudes durability. Its compact size won’t hog valuable pedalboard real estate, which is a plus for those of us with limited space. The control knobs are responsive and well-labeled, making it easy to tweak settings on the fly without squinting.
Features and Functionality
At its core, the Count to Five is a sampler and looper pedal, but it’s far from your average looper. It’s like a sonic time machine, offering three distinct modes: Sample, Organize, and Repeats.
- The Sample mode records up to 20 seconds of your playing, which can then be manipulated in various ways.
- The Organize mode slices the length of your sample into segments.
- The Repeats mode layers your sound, creating intricate textures.
Each mode is controlled by intuitive knobs: Regen, Mix, and LPF (Low-Pass Filter). The Regen knob affects the density of repeats, Mix controls the balance between your original sound and the processed signal, and the LPF knob determines the cutoff frequency of the low-pass filter. These controls are simple yet powerful, giving you a wide range of sonic landscapes to explore.
Comparison with Similar Pedals
When comparing the Count to Five with similar pedals on the market, its unique blend of sampling, looping, and manipulation capabilities stands out. While traditional loopers focus on simple repetition, the Count to Five’s three modes offer a broader range of sonic possibilities. It also offers expression control giving it an edge, allowing for real-time parameter control that few competitors can match. While other pedals might excel in specific areas, the Count to Five’s versatility and innovative features make it a strong contender for those seeking to expand their sonic horizons.
User Experience and Tips
In my experience, the Count to Five has been a source of endless inspiration. It encouraged me to step outside my comfort zone and explore new sonic territories. To fully harness its potential, start by experimenting with shorter samples and gradually work your way up. The expression pedal compatibility opens doors to dynamic performances, so consider adding one to your setup for a truly interactive experience. Additionally, don’t shy away from the learning curve – the pedal rewards patience with a wealth of creative possibilities.
Sound and Performance
Now, let’s talk about the real star of the show – the sound. The Count to 5 is a playground for sonic experimentation. The Sample mode lets you capture snippets of your playing, and the Regen knob allows you to multiply those snippets into cascades of echoing tones.
What I love is that the Count to Five helps you create guitar parts that you would never think of, or would be impossible to play, instantly creating new ideas and allowing you to play in fresh and inspiring ways.
The Organize mode is where things get even more fascinating. Slicing your sample into segments and manipulating them with the Regen knob results in glitchy, stuttering rhythms that add a touch of unpredictability to your tone. This mode is perfect for creating ambient textures or adding an avant-garde edge to your music.
The Repeats mode, on the other hand, is all about layering. By manipulating the Regen knob, you can stack multiple layers of sound on top of each other. This mode encourages experimentation with dynamics, pitch and space, as you can create anything from subtle background atmospheres to dense, immersive soundscapes.
Versatility and Creativity
One of the Count to Five’s strongest selling points is its versatility. It’s equally at home in ambient, experimental, and even more conventional musical contexts. Whether you’re crafting soundscapes, adding depth to your solos, or just seeking to spark your creativity, this pedal delivers.
I found that the Count to Five encourages me to think outside the box. Its ability to transform ordinary sounds into extraordinary ones is truly inspiring. While it may take some time to fully grasp the pedal’s capabilities, the learning process is rewarding, fun and you’ll find yourself stumbling upon unexpected sonic gems along the way.
Expression Pedal Control
One of the standout features of the Montreal Assembly Count to Five pedal is its compatibility with an expression pedal. The fact that it offers expression pedal control opens up a whole new avenue of exploration, allowing you to dynamically manipulate various parameters in real-time. With an expression controller connected, you can smoothly sweep through the LPF (Low-Pass Filter) range, creating gradual shifts in tone that add depth and character to your soundscapes.
Additionally, the expression pedal can be assigned to control the Regen or Mix knobs, offering you hands-free control over the density of repeats or the balance between your dry and processed signals. This level of expressiveness adds a tactile and interactive dimension to your playing, making the Count to Five even more engaging and versatile. Whether you’re using it to craft evolving soundscapes or to add dynamic flair to your solos, the expression control enhances the Count to Five’s sonic potential in exciting ways.
Limitations and Learning Curve
While the Montreal Assembly Count to Five opens doors to a realm of sonic exploration, it’s not without its challenges. The pedal’s three modes and various controls might feel overwhelming at first, especially if you’re new to the world of looping, delay, and manipulation. However, with some patience and experimentation, the learning curve becomes less daunting, and you’ll gradually unlock its potential.
Recording and Studio Applications
In the studio environment, the Montreal Assembly Count to 5 pedal truly shines as a sonic toolkit. Whether you’re crafting an ambient soundscape or adding a layer of complexity to your tracks, this pedal’s diverse modes offer an array of textures that can enhance your recordings. Try experimenting with different samples and settings to add a touch of uniqueness to your music. Its real-time manipulation capabilities can be a game-changer when searching for that perfect sonic backdrop.
Live Performance Strategies
Taking the Count to Five to the stage requires a bit of strategic planning. Pre-set your favorite settings for quick transitions between modes during your performance. Assigning an expression pedal to control key parameters can lend a dynamic element to your live show, allowing you to adjust textures on the fly. It might take some practice to smoothly integrate the pedal into your live setup, but the results are worth the effort.
Alternative Uses and Cross-Pedal Combinations
Beyond its primary functions, the Count to Five can be an innovative tool for unconventional applications. Use it to process external audio sources, such as field recordings or synth pads, for an experimental twist. Cross-pedal combinations can yield fascinating results too. Pair it with delay, reverb, or modulation pedals to create complex, evolving soundscapes that are both mesmerizing and unpredictable. Experimentation is key to unlocking the full potential of the pedal’s sonic palette.
Final Verdict: Montreal Assembly Count to Five
In conclusion, the Montreal Assembly Count to Five is a must-have for adventurous guitarists seeking to expand their sonic horizons. Its robust build quality, intuitive controls, and wide range of creative possibilities make it an invaluable addition to any pedalboard. Whether you’re an ambient artist, a rock guitarist looking to add depth, or simply a sonic explorer, this pedal will keep you engaged for hours on end. Embrace the learning curve, and you’ll be rewarded with a tool that can turn your musical ideas into sonic masterpieces.
FAQs About the Count to Five Guitar Pedal
What is the Montreal Assembly Count to Five?
The Count to Five is a guitar pedal designed by Montreal Assembly. It’s a sampler and looper pedal that offers three modes of operation – Sample, Organize, and Repeats – each with its own unique sonic possibilities.
How does the Sample mode work?
In Sample mode, you can record up to 20 seconds of your playing. The pedal then lets you play as you manipulate this sample using the Regen, Mix, and LPF knobs to create echoes and textures.
What is the Organize mode used for?
Organize mode slices your recorded sample into segments. By adjusting the Regen knob, you can create glitchy samples and stuttering rhythms that add an experimental edge to your tone.
How does the Repeats mode differ from the other modes?
Repeats mode focuses on layering your sound. You can stack multiple layers of your sample on top of each other, altering the Regen knob to control the density of repeats. This mode is ideal for building immersive soundscapes.
Is the Montreal Assembly Count to Five pedal suitable for all music genres?
Yes, the Count to Five’s versatility makes it suitable for various music genres. It’s especially favored by ambient, experimental, and creative guitarists looking to explore new sonic territories.
How easy is it to use the Montreal Assembly Count to Five’s controls?
The pedal’s controls are labeled and intuitive, making them easy to understand and adjust. However, due to the pedal’s diverse functions, there might be a learning curve, especially for those new to looping and manipulation pedals.
Can the Montreal Assembly Count to 5 pedal replace a traditional looper?
While the Count to Five offers looping capabilities, it’s not a direct replacement for a traditional looper pedal. Its emphasis on manipulation and layering sets it apart, making it a complementary addition to your setup.
Does the Montreal Assembly Count to 5 have any limitations?
The pedal’s versatility can also be its challenge. Some users might find the numerous options a bit overwhelming at first. However, with patience and experimentation, the learning curve becomes manageable.
Can I use the Montreal Assembly Count to 5 in a live performance?
Yes, the Count to Five can be used in a live setting to add depth, texture, and unique sounds to your performance. However, due to its creative nature, it might require some practice to seamlessly integrate it into your live setup.
Is the Montreal Assembly Count to 5 worth the investment?
If you’re an adventurous guitarist seeking gear to push the boundaries of your sound, the Count to Five is definitely worth considering. Its creative possibilities and ability to transform ordinary playing into extraordinary textures make it a valuable addition to any rig.
Are there any resources to help me get started with the Montreal Assembly Count to Five?
Montreal Assembly provides a user manual that offers insights into the pedal’s functions and tips for getting started. Online guitar communities and forums are also great places to find tutorials, tips, feedback and user experiences to aid your journey with the pedal.