Ever since the early 1960s, electric guitarists have been relying on foot pedals (frequently dubbed "stomp boxes") to color their sound. For years, foot pedals had one or two sounds in each pedal. Fuzz tone (as heard on the Stones' classic "Satisfaction"), phasing effects (the Stones' "Shattered" and Hunter and Wagner on Lou Reed's live version of "Sweet Jane"), chorus (on lots of hit singles by the Police) and the wah-wah pedal (used by loads of guitarists, beginning most famously with Jimi Hendrix) are all classic foot pedals.
But beginning around the early 1980s, stomp boxes began to get more and more sophisticated. The harbinger was Tom Scholz's classic Rockman box-crammed full of transistors and printed circuits, it was a veritable Swiss Army Knife for guitarists. Producing the same kind of distortion tone that Schulz made famous with Boston, as well as a clean, chorused sound very much like Andy Summers' Police sound, the Rockman served as a headphone amp for thousands of budding guitarists, as well as being featured on loads of hit records in the mid-1980s.
Around that same time, Roger Linn was making a name for himself with his Linn Drum Machine, which was featured on even more hit records. Linn maintained a somewhat low profile for much of the 1990s, but remerged a couple of years ago with his latest product, the AdrenaLinn, whose firmware was recently upgraded to create the AdrenaLinn II.
There are certainly other products that do a little of what the AdrenaLinn does. The most famous is probably Line6's Pod, which focuses on modeling archetypal 1950s and '60s guitar amps and effects.
While the AdrenaLinn has several authentic sounding amp models built in, it goes beyond "simple" amp modeling to include an astonishing amount of sounds, ranging from screaming Marshall Amplifier-style tones to synthesizer-like sequencers and envelope followers. Remember the first time you heard Pete Townshend's envelope filtered guitar solos on classic Who songs from the early 1970s, such as "Going Mobile" and "Relay"? Or the talkbox on Frampton Comes Alive? Those types of sounds are included in the pre-sets of the AdrenaLinn, along with phasers, flangers, tremolos, and other standard guitar-oriented sounds.
Almost a Guitar Synthesizer in a Box
But standard guitar effects are just a first step when it comes to how the AdrenaLinn can color an electric guitar's sound. While the AdrenaLinn has some great guitar amplifier sounds, it can also make some very un-guitarlike sounds with its eighth and 16th note sequencer patterns. It's almost a guitar synthesizer in a box.