Posts Tagged ‘tone freak effects’

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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Tone Freak Effects Abunai 2I’ve been playing my Prestige Heritage Elite so much lately that I forgot how fun it was to get funky with my Strat. So this morning, I plugged my Strat into my board, switched on the Abunai 2, and found a sweet spot that would give me just a bit of grind when I played single notes with nice grit when I dug in or played chords. Then I started playing this little funky riff that I just laid down.

I just can’t get over how good this pedal sounds with any guitar! With my Strat, I’ve always tended to play it much more clean than my other guitars. The ’57 Tex Mex pickups – at least to my ears – have never sounded very good with overdrive. I’ve always felt the drive was harsh. But the Abunai 2 really smoothens out the drive, and now I’m diggin’ playing with some real grit on my Strat.

By the way, if you missed the first clip I recorded using my Heritage Elite, here it is below:

My Aracom VRX22 just loves this pedal as well. Some might argue that with such a great amp that has a fantastic overdriven sound that I should be using the natural overdrive of the amp. In answer to that, sometimes I want a completely different overdrive character than what my amp has to offer, and an overdrive pedal through the clean channel of an amp has a totally different character than the drive channel.

Also, in a home studio environment where I have to keep the volume down, an overdrive pedal allows me to get some snarling-dog overdrive without having to crank my amp. And with a pedal like the Abunai 2 that simulates voltage sag and tube compression so well, I can get that cranked amp tone at bedroom levels!

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the clips!

For more information on the Abunai 2, and for other Tone Freak Effects pedals, please visit the Tone Freak Effects web site!

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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!

Tone Freak Effects Abunai 2

Tone Freak Effects Abunai 2 Overdrive Pedal

Summary: In Japanese, “abunai” means dangerous, and this pedal’s overdrive tones are indeed dangerous – at least to your other overdrive pedals. With three switchable clipping configurations, you can dial in a myriad of overdrive characteristics that’ll suit any situation, be it live or in the studio.

Pros: The magic’s in the three-way clipping configuration switch. Super simple to use, and very easy to dial in the kind of overdrive character you want.

Cons: None

Price: $199 (through dealers – check out the Tone Freak Effect Contact Page)


  • Controls: Drive, Tone, Level
  • 3 clipping configurations
  • True Bypass
  • Neutrik jacks
  • Teflon coated, silver stranded wire
  • Mil-spec PCB
  • Metal film resistors
  • Metal film capacitors
  • Hand assembled

Tone Bone Score: 5.0 – As I shared with Dereck Tabata (maker of Tone Freak pedals), with the amount of gear that I run across, I’m rarely blown away by pedals. But I was completely blown away by the Abunai 2. Step aside Tube Screamer, there’s a new sherriff in town.

One rainy friday night several months ago, I was sitting in an Armadillo Willy’s eating my dinner and surfing the web, while waiting for my son’s hockey practice at the rink across the parking lot to end. I was doing what Internet geeks like myself occasionally do: Search for available domain names, and reserve them, just in case I want to build a site or point them to this blog. In this case, I did a google search on “tone freak.” The first listing was for Tone Freak Effects; an effects manufacturer I had not even heard of at that point.

Being the gear slut that I am, I just had to mosey on over to the Tone Freak site, and check out what they had to offer. And much to my extreme pleasure, they had a bunch of overdrive pedals, my favorite kind of effect! I immediately reached over to my laptop bag and pulled out my ear buds so I could listen to clips. The first set of clips I listened to were recorded with the Abunai 2. From the very first clip, I felt that this pedal was something special. It wasn’t a Tube Screamer tone – it was something altogether different. It had a much “ballsier” sound than a Tube Screamer, but seemed to clip very similarly – at least in the middle position.

Well I got one in for review just yesterday, and from the moment I hooked it up to my board and started noodling, I was in love!!! And by 2am this morning, I was spent, which accounts for why I’m doing a review of the Abunai 2 the very next day. I just couldn’t stop playing (though after the first hour I did stop to take a break and write a First Impressions article)! So today I’m a bit fuzzy and a little worse for wear, but grinning from ear-to-ear because I just spent the previous evening in absolute overdrive bliss! I know some gear is good when it can consume my attention for hours on end. This is the perfect overdrive pedal!

Features and Ease-of-Use

The features are listed in the summary section above, but the most special feature of this pedal is the three-way mini-toggle set between the drive and volume knobs. This controls the variable clipping section which gives you symmetrical, asymmetrical, and no clipping to open up lots of different overdrive tones. As far as ease-of-use is concerned, this pedal’s easy to use. Select the clipping configuration you want, adjust level, gain, and tone, and you’re off to the races!

Interestingly enough, I wanted to get some background information on the pedal before I received it, so I had a nice conversation with Rob at Tone Merchants about the Abunai 2. He indicated that I’d have to spend a lot of time dialing in just the right overdrive tone I wanted, but once I got it, I’d be totally happy. Call me lucky, but I set everything in the middle position to start with, spent maybe 20 seconds twiddling the knobs, and found a sweet spot. I suppose it also all depends on how discerning or nit-picky you are… I’ll just call it luck for my experience. 🙂

How It Sounds

Many words come to mind with respect to how the Abunai 2 sounds: Killer, Inspirational, Ballsy, F-in’ Incredible! All of the above. To date, this is the best-sounding overdrive pedal I’ve ever played, and I’ve played a lot. You know how taken I was with the OCD, but even that lost out to the Holy Fire, which is yet another killer overdrive/distortion that will never leave my board – actually I shouldn’t say “never” because that’s exactly what I said about my Tube Screamer. It’s not transparent – at least not nearly as transparent as the Holy Fire – but the tone it produces is so damn sweet, who the hell cares about transparency? But that said, the tone of your amp doesn’t really change a lot. It just takes on a slightly different character, and that difference is simply wonderful

No matter what toggle position you go with, the Abunai 2 serves up lots of sustain that gives the resultant tone a very 3-dimensional quality. It’s in your face, but at the same time it’s very spacious – even when it’s simulating tube compression!

In case  you missed the previous article where I described how each position sounds, let me rehash it here. Note that I’m not going to try to identify which position refers to symmetrical, asymmetrical or no-clipping; only what it sounds like to my ears.


The middle position sounds much like a classic overdrive tone. It’s an open type of distortion tone with a nice grind that’s never harsh. This could be the closest you get to a Tube Screamer tone, but it’s significantly different from that tone. This is a great toggle position for playing dirty rhythm parts.


To my ears, this position sounds much like the tone you get as your power tubes start to saturate. You get a bit more voltage sag, resulting in more sustain and compression, but the overdrive tone still remains fairly open. And like an amp whose power tubes are starting to saturate, you get a slight volume drop. So far, this has been my favorite toggle position for leads.


This position simulates fully saturated power tubes adding tons of compression, tons of sustain, and the expected drop in volume as a result -it’s spongy. I compensated for this by adding some clean boost to get the volume back to unity gain. But despite that, notes are clear, and the dynamics are still incredible.

Here’s a sound clip I recorded at around 1am this morning. I played both parts using my Prestige Heritage Elite. For the rhythm part, I set the toggle in the middle position, rolled off the drive to about 10 am, set the gain to unity, and placed the tone dead-center. I had both my ‘buckers engaged for this part. For the lead, I used the left toggle position, upped volume to about 2pm, set the Tone wide open, and set the Drive to about 1pm. The lead was played through my bridge pickup.

I tracked the rhythm part in a single take, and then loop recorded the lead so I could just jam. I’m not sure what iteration the loop was in when I finally stopped. All I know was that it was about 2am, and I took the last “take” and exported the clip to an MP3.

Overall Impressions

As I mentioned above, my head’s fuzzy, I’m a little worse for wear, plus my fingertips hurt from playing so long last night. But what the hell! I was in complete tonal bliss! The Abunai 2 is an absolute dream come true in overdrive tone! This is a pedal that you just have to check out if you’re in the market!

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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.


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.


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.


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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Tone Freak Effects Abunai 2

Tone Freak Effects Abunai 2

When I stumbled upon Tone Freak Effects as I described in a recent article, I didn’t let on that with the Abunai 2, there might be a Tube Screamer killer in my midst. As you may know if you’re a regular reader here at GuitarGear.org, I love my Tube Screamer. It is the one overdrive pedal that has stayed on my board for years. That creamy-smooth distortion with the mid-range bump just stirs me to the core. I use it all the time, even though I’ve been playing GREAT amps that break up beautifully.

So it is with incredible excitement and anticipation that Dereck over at Tone Freak Effects is sending me an Abunai 2 to evaluate. I’m always a bit dubious about overdrive pedals, and always make the comparison to my beloved Tube Screamer when I run across new ones. But the more I listen to the sound clips, and read reviews on the web about the Abunai 2, the more I’m thinking that if this pedal performs as well as the clips suggest, my Tube Screamer may have some serious competition.

Here are a couple of clips, both through a Suhr Badger:


Impressive, huh?

The thing that REALLY turns me on about this pedal is that it has three switchable clipping configurations in addition to the gain, drive and tone knobs. That kind of versatility is extremely intriguing to me. We shall soon find out in the next couple of weeks.

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