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Posts Tagged ‘distortion’

Wanna slam the front-end of your amp with up to 50dB of gain, then be able to add some distortion? Then look no further than the Way Huge Angry Troll. I don’t have much information on it yet, but it’s a simple two knob affair. The left-hand knob controls the variable boost, while the right-hand knob provides 6 positions of “Anger” from no anger (clean boost) to a full fist. Here’s ProGuitarShop.com’s video demo.

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Kasha KA-ODP-A

Awhile ago, I was perusing a forum where one of the members mentioned in a reply that it’s a good time to be a guitarist. There’s so much varied gear out there that guitarists have all sorts of options to choose from. One area of guitar gear that certainly seems to get regular entries is the overdrive pedal.

The OD pedal is something of which I never tire. There are so many great ones out there – I just can’t get enough of ’em. One such pedal that has just recently caught my eye is the KA-ODP-A 4-Channel Overdrive Pedal from Kasha amps. This pedal promises to be something special. Check out its features:

– 4 channels with separate voicing and gain structure
– Analog design
– 10 dB clear boost
– True bypass switching
– Very low power consumption (3mA and runs on a single 9V battery)
– No tone change, only enhances sound
– Compact standard aluminum chassis (4 3/8″x2 1/4″ x 1 1/4″)
– AC power jack (uses standard Boss DC power supplies)
– High gloss mirror black powder coat
– Hand made in the USA
– Low noise
– Crystal Blue LED (high intensity)
– Weight: 1.5lb

Built By an Amp Builder

There’s something about gear that’s built by an amp builder, especially when it comes to pedals or other peripheral devices. Amp builders have an innate understanding of the electronics behind tone, and how peripheral devices interact with their amps. A great example of this is Jeff Aragaki from Aracom Amps and his brand-new attenuatore, the Power Rox PRX150-Pro. Jeff totally gets it with how an amp interacts with a speaker, and the Power Rox is a testament to that. The same may be said of the Kasha overdrive in front of an amp. I had a chance to speak with John (Kasha’s owner and builder) this afternoon about the pedal, and it was clear from our conversation that this guy really understands the interplay between effects and an amp – especially with respect to overdrive.

Kasha has been around awhile, having been building the famous ROCKMOD line of amps since the 80’s, so they know something about amps, and their tone is well-known. Guitarists such as George Lynch and Davey Johnstone (Elton John), and tons of session guitarists have been playing ROCKMODS for years. So when John decided to build an overdrive pedal, he didn’t want to model it off of traditional circuits, so he created his own. The result is the 4-Channel Kasha Overdrive.

What’s very intriguing about this pedal is that it doesn’t have an EQ. John designed the pedal in such a way that it preserves the tone going in and outputs it with some OD “flavor” as John puts it. The thinking is that you don’t need an EQ if you’re not doing anything to the EQ of the signal. Smart.

The Kasha overdrive is a lesson in simplicity, having only two knobs: An overdrive selection knob to choose from one of the four different overdrives, and a gain knob. Very simple. But it also sports a “Turbo” switch at the top which will add a 10db clean boost to slam your pre-amp tubes with even more gain. But despite all that, this thing operates on 3 milliamps and only requires a standard 9V power source! That is incredible! My beloved Holy Fire requires a special 48V power supply! So what John has created is definitely special.

I’m going to be trying this pedal out in the next coming weeks, and I’m excited! I’ll keep you posted!

For more information, go to the Kasha product page (scroll down to the end to see the overdrive)

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5 Tone Bones - Gear has stellar performance, value, and quality. This is definitely top of the class, best of breed, and it's a no-brainer to add this to your gear lineup!

GeekDriver by the Original Geek

The GeekDriver by the Original Geek

Summary: Is it a booster? Is it an overdrive? No! It’s the GeekDriver.

Pros: From gorgeous, slightly fat boost to searing, face peeling overdrive with tons of overtones and harmonics, this pedal does it!

Cons: None.

Features:

  • Hand-wired and soldered in the US
  • Volume, Treble, Bass and Gain Controls
  • Neutrik and Switchcraft jacks
  • True Bypass

Price: $205 direct

Tone Bone Score: 5.0. I’m absolutely blown away by this pedal! I can’t say for sure, but this is a pedal that I’d almost always have on.

I don’t give 5 Tone Bones away lightly. I have to be so totally blown away by some gear that I have to give it my highest rating. When I first heard the GeekDriver on Geek’s Premier Guitar Video, I immediately became intrigued. Then when I finally met the Geek himself at the shop he shares with Tonic Amps, and he demonstrated the GeekDriver in person, I knew I had to have one, so I told him I wanted one, and tonight I picked it up.

What exactly is the GeekDriver?

As the Geek will tell you, the GeekDriver is based upon the ColorSound Overdriver that was popularized by Jeff Beck. At its core, it’s a clean booster, but the Gain knob changes the game significantly, giving you anywhere from mild breakup to ugly, snarling dog overdrive, replete with tons of overtones and harmonics. At high gain levels, it’s like the ugly dog that’s so ugly you can’t help but love it, if you catch my drift.

One thing’s for sure, it’s not transparent, nor is it meant to be. When active it adds a slight compressive fat boost at all volume levels. The effect is incredibly subtle, almost visceral, in that  you “feel” that coloration more than you hear it. This aspect alone made me give this pedal the 5 Tone Bones. The effect is so sensual and appealing. I know I’m using a lot of flowery adjectives here, but it’s because it’s so hard to articulate the emotional effect that compressive boost has on me. When I get that feeling, I know I’m onto something good.

Then you turn the gain up, and in addition to that colored boost, you get layers of overdrive which become this ugly fuzz as you increase the gain that’s total ear candy. But despite the cacophony of distorted signals, the tone is still incredibly defined and articulate. Unlike a pedal like the OCD which can get pretty muddy when you crank the gain, the GeekDriver just oozes thick fuzz, but never gets muddy. Nice.

How it sounds…

In a word, it sounds awesome. It is very hard to describe what it actually sounds like. It’s like a colored overdrive with fuzz attached. In any case here are a couple of clips (BTW, both clips were recorded at bedroom level using my Aracom PRX150-Pro attenuator. That thing ROCKS, retaining all my tone and dynamics):

In this first clip, I was just noodling, switching back and forth a couple times between the clean tone of my amp and the GeekDriver. Note that I set the Gain pretty high on the GeekDriver on the first section to show how ugly it can get – I love that sound!

In this next clip, I start the solo out only with the GeekDriver, with a very light pick attack. In the second part of the solo, I add my Abunai 2 to the chain to demonstrate how delicious the GeekDriver sounds when another overdrive pedal is stacked on top of it.

I believe the GeekDriver was meant to be stacked. I placed it first on my board, then ran my Tone Freak Effects Abunai 2, and my Creation Audio Labs Holy Fire after it. With both pedals, the GeekDriver just FREAKIN’ ROCKED THE HOUSE!!! Oh, it’s sounds f-in’ awesome by itself, but used as a “base” pedal in front of another OD or distortion pedal, and the mix is like nothing you’ve experienced!

Overall Impressions

As you can tell, I freakin’ love this pedal! I’m not surprise why Jeff Beck dug the original ColorSound Overdriver. This is definitely Geek’s unique take on that classic pedal, and what a unique take that is! It may not be for everyone, especially if you’re looking for a transparent boost. But if you’re looking for something totally different from your typical boost or drive pedal, the GeekDriver has a voice all its own. Like I said, it freakin’ rocks the house!

About the Original Geek

Meeting Geek was pure serendipity. I originally was going to Tonic Amps to meet Darin Elingson about his cabs and Fane speakers. I didn’t know the Original Geek shared a shop space with him. That’s serendipity for you.

For those who are familiar with Jeff and his creations, he is known as “GeekMacDaddy,” and for years, his pedals have been by GeekMacDaddy. But his company has gone through a recent name change, and is now known as the “The Original Geek.” But who cares about the name? I certainly don’t. I just know his pedals kick f-in’ ass!

For more information, and to order one, go to http://www.geekmacdaddy.com.

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Tone Freak Effects Severe High Gain Distortion PedalReleased in May (how did I miss this?), the Severe is “Tone Freak Effects’ answer to high gain distortion.” Oh man… This looks like a incredibly mean pedal. Set up like the Abunai 2 with a 3-way clipping switch, with level, gain, and tone, the Severe also sports a 3-way bright switch so it can be used with different amps. Very cool.

As Derek Tabata mentions on his site, the Severe will never turn your tone into a compressed mushy mess. The distortion can be laid on thick but, remains open. I can attest to this with the Abunai 2. You can lay on thick overdrive with that pedal, but it’ll never turn super thick.

With the Severe, Derek has taken high-gain distortion to another level! I’m amazed at how it sounds in the sound clips! Check ’em out!

Severe Demo Clip

Les Paul

Les Paul

Tom Anderson

Personally, I’m not a high-gain type of player, however, as I’ve gotten more and more comfortable soloing, I’ve found that I’m pushing more and more into high-gain territory. The only problem is that to achieve that with an amp means it has to be LOUD. That’s why I love pedals like this! You get the effect you need at far lower sound levels.

And you can’t go wrong with Tone Freak Effects! You just can’t! For more information, visit the Tone Freak Effects web site!

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Nova Repeater

The Nova Repeater news is a tad old, as it started shipping a couple of weeks ago, but retailers are still only taking pre-orders on it. I’ve been waiting for the Nova Repeater to come out for awhile, ever since I heard about it from Winter NAMM news. As TC Electronic puts it, this pedal is “No frills, with a sound that kills.” It truly is no-frills. There’s no programming of the pedal. It has a few features and that’s it. But what it has that I’ve not seen with other pedals is a feature TC calls, “Audio Tapping.” Essentially, you hold the tap tempo button down, then strum your guitar, and the delay is set based upon the strum. I can’t wait to try out this delay pedal! Here’s a demo video:

Nova Drive

Next up is the Nova Drive, which is an analog overdrive and distortion pedal that is controlled with a digital interface. Not sure how that works, but it does sound very cool. This is the same drive/distortion circuit that is in the Nova System, so if you know about that tone, you know it’s very nice. There are a couple of things that stand out about this pedal for me. First, you can change the order of the drive and distortion, making drive first, distortion second; and vice-versa. Second, you can also run the effects in parallel, which is totally – it provides a completely different dimension in the tone this pedal produces. It also has a MIDI input that you can hook up to a G Major system to program it. Not bad. Anyway, here’s another demo video:

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Acoustic Imaginearing Quantum DriveBrand-new from what appears to be a brand-new kind of overdrive/distortion, Acoustic Imaginearing has just released its new QuantumDrive, overdrive/distortion pedal. Folks, this appears to be totally new technology; the first and only that employs quantum mechanics tunneling to produce its distortion sound!

I’m no physicist, so I’ll let you do your own research on what quantum tunneling is. But this is a totally new twist on distortion! Here’s the press release:

The QuantumDrive, A.I.’s flagship product, is a versatile and unique overdrive and distortion unit that uses a patent pending process to dynamically shape the sound of the guitar by means of a quantum tunneling device. Quantum tunneling is a curious physics principle which allows matter to “pass through” other matter which would normally be impenetrable. A.I. has developed a means of using this effect to modify a guitar signal in unique and previously unheard of ways. The quantum distortion appears to add a vowel sound to the signal as well as emphasizing the consonant, fricative guitar distinctiveness. Affecting the edge of the waveform and not just the peaks, the result is a very expressive tone when played “in the zone.” Of course the pedal is also capable of wild and quirky, outside the norm distortions — each distinctive to the instrument processed by the Quantum Drive.

The effect is well suited for both guitar and bass, as bass frequencies are retained without becoming muddy. It has been used by Tony Levin on the latest King Crimson tour.

In addition to the distortion channel, the pedal has a solid overdrive channel, also uniquely designed, that can be used independently or chained together with the quantum channel.

I gotta tell you, I love this kind of stuff! And the fact that this is an overdrive/distortion pedal (you know OD is my favorite kind of pedal) is even better! I’m very excited when inventors add a new twist to something familiar. It just goes to show that there’s no shortage of creativity and innovation in the world!

How It Sounds

There are very limited sound clips available on the site, but the interface to listen to them is a bit screwy. I was able to do a debug trace to figure out the sound clip file names. The following clips were done with a Les Paul with the rhythm pickup into the QuantumDrive and output through a Peavey Classic 30. The clips actually aren’t that good, as the massive amounts of reverb kind of mask what could really be a great sounding pedal. But from what I could here, this is a real open sounding distortion, with just a little fizz. What I like is how the signal tails off.

Light Quantum Drive

Medium Quantum Drive

High Quantum Drive

Note that this pedal also has an overdrive that you can mix with the quantum drive as well.

Where to Buy

You can get this pedal on EBay for $165 as a “Buy It Now” or bid on it for $160 starting bid/$225 Buy It Now (in another auction).

This pedal is so new, they only have two dealers. This is a great find!

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Tone Freak Effects Abunai 2 In my ever-constant search for new gear, I accidentally stumbled upon Tone Freak Effects, a little boutique effects shop in Southern California. And you know me, I DIG OVERDRIVE pedals!!! I know, I say that a lot, but I really do. When I listened to sound clips of the Abunai 2, I knew it was a pedal that I had to check out, so I contacted Tone Freak, and asked to do a review on one of their pedals. Dereck Tabata, maker of the effects, emailed me back and offered to have me review the Abunai 2. That was exactly the pedal I wanted to try out because based upon the sound clips of the Abunai 2 Dereck had on his site, it sounded absolutely killer.

Well after a moderate wait for Dereck to set up his new company and for him to create enough stock to send one out, I finally got my review pedal. I just got done playing with it for the last hour, and was so excited by its tone, that I had to release a first impressions article.

So I’ll just say this: After many years, my Tube Screamer is going to get retired for awhile. Mind you, I didn’t say I’d get rid of it. There is something about that Tube Screamer tone that I will always love. But even after just an hour of playing with the Abunai 2 and discovering just a fraction of the plethora of tones it can produce, I think I’ve found an overdrive pedal that I love as much or perhaps even more than the Tube Screamer. I know… I never thought I’d say that.

Let me give you a quick rundown of the Abunai 2…

When you first look at this pedal, you’re totally taken in by the absolutely cool purple, sparkly paint job. The picture here doesn’t do the pedal justice at all. Then you notice that it has a three knob setup, just like most overdrive pedals. Then you plug the pedal in, and that’s where the magic starts. That magic comes from the three-position mini toggle that gives you overdrive tone-shaping possibilities you never thought possible. These three positions give you very different overdrive characteristics. No matter what position you’re in, the tones this diminutive pedal produce are about the most incredible tones I’ve ever heard in an overdrive! Freakin’ awesome! Let me quickly go over each different position.

Middle

I’m starting with the middle position because that position provides that classic overdrive tone. It’s not a mid-range hump like a tube screamer. Like the Creation Audio Labs Holy Fire, the full spectrum of the EQ is represented. The distortion characteristics are pretty open in this position, and the pedal reacts very much like an overdriven tube amp.

Left

This position seems to simulate distortion when the power tubes start saturating and you get just a tiny bit of compression. This lowers the volume just a tad, but it increases the sustain. But the distortion is still open – so far this is my favorite toggle position.

Right

Metal rockers will love this toggle position. This position simulates fully saturated power tubes adding tons of compression, tons of sustain, and the expected drop in volume as a result. I compensated for this by adding some clean boost to get the volume back to unity gain. This is a VERY fun position to play in (that sounds kinda kinky…). Notes just sing and sing and sing in this toggle. But the cool thing is that despite the incredible amount of compression, the pedal maintains a lot of clarity in individually picked notes.

What a great first impression! This pedal totally kicks ass, as I’m sure Dereck’s other pedals do! It’s no small wonder why Greg Howe uses a Tone Freak Buff Puff! When I do my full review, I’ll have sound clips to demonstrate the differences in the tones between the different toggle positions! Rock on!

For more information on this and other Tone Freak Effects pedals, go to their web site!

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Reinhardt Amps Willard Distortion Pedal

Just ran across this brand-new fuzz pedal from Reinhardt Amps, called the "Willard" distortion pedal. This pedal is pure 80’s fuzz, a sound that I came to love! From the video, it’s clear that this pedal is capable of producing some serious hair, but it also retains a lot of clarity. Built around a true NOS LM308N op-amp chip and based around a big-box Rat of that era, this is a very nice-sounding distortion box. Check out the video below:

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Ahh… yet another distortion box! Hehe. You know I just dig ’em. This one is from the same guys that bring us the J. Backlund Designs guitars; specifically, Bruce Bennet, of Bennett Music Labs, the actual maker of the J. Backlund Designs guitars.

I discovered this pedal while perusing the web for videos of the JBD-100 that I announced yesterday. It turned out that there was a video of how Bruce built the Brown Sound pedal (it’s below). That really got me interested in the pedal, so I did a bit more searching. I went to the J Backlund Site, and they had a link to view and list to sample of their pedals on a MySpace page.

That turned out to be a bit of dead-end because I couldn’t find where to buy them. I finally found a place that sells the pedals, call OohLaLa Manufacturing. Apparently, they’re a distributor and production house for a bunch of boutique pedals. They either take designs from pedal designers, then manufacture them or, as I found out from Bruce Bennett today, they just distribute the finished pedals. Defintely check out their site! Too bad they don’t have sound samples.

The Brown Sound

The original “Brown Sound” was popularized by the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Clapton with the “Woman Tone.” In its simplest sense, the Brown Sound was produced by using a bit of fuzz combined with TONS of power tube distortion. The end result was a way huge sound! Fast-forward a bit, and the Brown Sound then became associated with Eddie Van Halen. But to produce his tone requires a bit more work.

What about the Brown Sound pedal? Well, it’s not an EVH tone simulator. Apparently, it’s more of a Hendrix tone simulator as the guys at Analogman describe here. Interesting to note that this pedal is not meant to add gain. The volume knob is more of a volume cut, and the drive adjusts the amount of “Brown” you get. That’s actually kind of cool because I’m assume you don’t have to mess around with the volume much to find unity gain. Just leave the volume knob wide open, and let the pedal do its thing.

I’m gonna have to contact the guys over at OohLaLa to get more information about this pedal. I love that tone, and to get it in a box would be awesome!

I forgot to mention: The pedal is all hand-wired, and it’s only $159! Pretty cool! Anyway, check out the video of how it’s made.

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Tone Freak EffectsI love serendipitous moments, when I stumble upon something new when I’m doing something else entirely. Such was the case of me stumbling upon Tone Freak pedals. I was seeing if the domain name “tonefreak.com” was taken, and at the top of the search results was Tone Freak Effects. You know me and overdrive and distortion pedals. I LOVE ‘EM! And Tone Freak Effects specializes in two kinds of overdrive, two kinds of distortion pedals, plus a buffer/booster and a really nice trem pedal.

The OD and distortion pedal clips I listened to demonstrate a very diverse set of pedals that have a classic character, but also sound fairly unique as well. For instance the Abunai 2 clips sounded a lot like a classic Tube Screamer – nice and open – but with a bit more low-end while maintaining that openness. In fact, all the pedal clips I listened to portrayed familiar OD and distortion sounds, but were also wonderfully different in very good ways. This could likely be because almost all the pedals are the result of collaborations with various guitarists.

No matter, these pedals sound awesome!

I’m particularly interested in the Buff Puff, a signal buffer, plus a clean boost. The buffer is on all the time, and helps restore the signal loss that can occur in a long effects chain. When you switch the pedal on, you get some clean boost. Not sure how many dB, but that is something that I find totally cool. In addition to my love for OD pedals, I’ve really started getting into clean boost – not just to up my volume, but to also slam the front-end of an amp. It’s wonderful!

Anyway, check Tone Freak Effects out at: http://www.tonefreak.com!

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