Walrus Audio Fundamental Series Review

A New Line of Affordable + Flexible Effects Pedals From OKC

Jacob Johnson · 04/11/23

If you've followed the world of guitar and effects pedals for the past several years, there's a strong chance you will have heard or seen a Walrus Audio pedal. Bold in both their sound and eye-catching artwork, Walrus effects stand out on a pedalboard, and each pedal delivers a range of sounds to make any instrument shine and pop. And they've grown to have one of the most extensive product catalogs of any modern pedal company out there.

Today, Walrus Audio launches their Fundamental Series: a full lineup of affordable pedals with streamlined functionality. But don't be deceived by their simplicity—their sounds hold up against any other pedal in the Walrus Audio catalog, or any other brand for that matter. This article will dive into a little bit of Walrus Audio's history, and of course, cover the full extent of what the Fundamental Series has to offer.

Who Are Walrus Audio?

Like a lot of folks, I first heard about Walrus Audio around the release of Julia (now on its second version) back in 2016, but they've been diligently putting out pedals since 2011. Born out of the Oklahoma City music scene, Walrus Audio began as a passion project by Colt Westbrook with the release of their first pedal, the Voyager Preamp. Since then, their combination of sound and style with a little bit of sonic magic attracted guitarists and musicians of all types to elevate their sound with a Walrus Audio pedal.

Walrus Audio's lineup includes an impressive range of drive pedals, such as the versatile and multi-mode powerhouses Ages, Eras, and Eons: five-state overdrive, distortion, and fuzz pedals, respectively. The previously mentioned Julia and the stereo-capable Julianna stand out as the crown jewels of their modulation pedals, while their digital MAKO Series offers everything from delay and reverb to amp and cab simulation—all under MIDI control. Most recently, Walrus Audio have made a foray into ambient and soundscape-ready digital pedals with the Lore reverse delay and Fable granular delay effects.

What is the Fundamental Series? And Why?

We'll be honest: boutique pedals are usually not known for being affordable. From any combination of cost in components and scale of manufacturing, there's usually a multitude of reasons for a pedal's pricing. The reality is that the more you can produce of something at one time, especially anything involving electronics, the cheaper each individual item will be. But thanks to the boom in wacky and weird effects pedals, brands like Walrus Audio that were born out of the boutique movement are now well-established and making moves to put their pedals in the hands of more musicians.

The Fundamental Series is Walrus Audio's answer to offering pedals that are both more affordable and straightforward compared to the rest of their lineup. Sometimes you just need a no-frills overdrive or fuzz, and a simple reverb or delay pedal without a web of menus to get lost in. This is exactly what the Fundamental Series promises to offer: easy-to-use pedals packed with a wide range of usable sounds.

In fact, the pedals in the Fundamental Series are so straightforward that once you know how to use one, you really know how to use them all! Every pedal in the line features a similar user interface consisting of three control sliders and a three-position mode switch—no menus, no layers, no problem. So even though each pedal offers a different effect, the general workflow of dialing in a sound remains the same across the Fundamental Series.

Fundamental Series Starting Lineup: Gain + Distortion Effects

At the time of launch, the Fundamental Series is a full lineup of eight pedals, covering the essential functions required of any standard pedalboard. Any of these pedals would be at home in a guitar rig, but that doesn't mean they wouldn't also work well with bass, synthesizers, drum machines, vocals, and more! Whether you're building your first pedalboard or hoping that Walrus Audio has made something to round out your current setup, let's take a look at what the Fundamental Series has to offer.

For any guitar pedal company, it's almost mandatory to offer an assortment of gain and saturation pedals—thankfully, the Fundamental Series is no exception. The Distortion, Fuzz, and Drive pedals in the Fundamental Series offer the same three controls to shake the gain, timbre, and level of effect: Gain, Tone, and Volume. But it's the mode switch of each pedal that gives it its versatility. In Fundamental Distortion, Walrus offers three different clipping sections: Dark, Silicon, and LED; for Fundamental Fuzz, you'll find modifications to the bias voltages and tone-stack in Gate, Classic, and Mid+; Fundamental Drive engages different circuits for variations in character: Smooth, Crunch, and Bright.

Fundamental Series Starting Lineup: Modulation Effects

Another Fundamental flavor (pun intended) of guitar effects is modulation—that is, any type of effect that gives your instrument wibbly, warbly, and washy movement. As expected, the Fundamental Series provides three different types of modulation: Chorus, Phaser, and Tremolo. Unlike the gain pedals, these effects feature some more substantial differences but do share Rate and Depth controls.

The third slider on Fundamental Chorus is for dialing in your preferred dry/wet Mix, with the mode switches enabling different intensities of chorusing from Light to Heavy. For Fundamental Phaser, you'll find a Feedback slider that offers more pronounced resonance and similar Light, Medium, and Heavy options. But with Fundamental Tremolo, a Volume control gives you more gain staging flexibility, and the mode switch provides selectable sine, square, and random waveforms.

Fundamental Series Starting Lineup: Spatial Effects

Finally, no pedalboard would be complete without some sort of time-based effect—thankfully, the Fundamental Series includes both a Delay and Reverb pedal. Delay is a favorite effect for many because of how flexible it can be, and the Fundamental Delay easily proves how true this can be. Unique compared to any other Fundamental pedal, the Delay features a Tap Tempo Mode accessible by holding down the footswitch, and setting the three-way switch to your desired musical division. Otherwise, set delay Time, Feedback repeats, and dry/wet Mix manually with the sliders, and choose between digital, analog, and reverse for your desired flavor of delays.

As for the Fundamental Reverb, it's a dependable, handily-equipped pedal that covers the most essential reverb needs. Spring mode delivers that classic amp-style reverb, but plate and hall extend into studio-like textures and expansive ambiences. Use Mix to set the amount of desired reverb, Decay to define the length of reverberant tails, and Tone allows for shaping the frequency spectrum to enhance your instrument or define more separation in the mix.

Solid Fundamentals

Quite the lineup, eh? We're of the opinion that no matter where you are in your effects journey, the Walrus Audio Fundamental Series is worth consideration when a straightforward, no-fuss pedal can get the job done. Though the word fundamental might imply that these pedals are only suited for "beginners," we feel that a more appropriate definition is "core" or "primary."

The pedals in the Fundamental Series do exactly what they say they do. And barring any extraordinary circumstances, more often than not your music will be served perfectly well by any pedal, regardless of how complex or expensive it is. As such we're certain that we'll be seeing the Fundamental Series pop up on pedalboards all over the world, covering sounds across any and all styles of music.