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Reviews Other guitar saturation effect


Electro-Harmonix EHX Tortion Review

Tubey or not Tubey, that is the question. Since the days of the original Big Muff Pi, Electro-Harmonix has been building distortion pedals, and one of its latest entries is the EHX Tortion ($179). Way more than just a distortion effect, it also offers a range of overdrive sounds, pleasing clean tones, a boost channel, and you even get amp simulation via its direct out. read more…

Wampler SLOstorsion Review

Save the Soldano All experienced fans of long-haired distortion know the famous Soldano SLO-100 made in the 80's: this amp seduced big names in the guitar world — nobody less than Eric Clapton, Mike Landau, Lou Reed... With its mythic Crunch channel, this amp quickly became a reference product in the small electric guitar universe. read more…

User reviews on Other guitar saturation effect products

Increase Note Definition and Harmonics with Any Amp or Pedal (Black Arts Toneworks - Skyboost)

By MGR/Brian Johnston, 10/08/2018
The YouTube video below demonstrates the SKYBOOST, a boost/overdrive/fuzz combination pedal with true bypass switching:

Offering different capabilities with any modern genre of music, SKYBOOST is a very simple and highly usable pedal. It isn’t classified as high-gain, but it can be used to increase gain in a high-gain amp or pedal. The GAIN knob allows you to increase the harmonic quality of your tone when turned low, but increases saturation and fuzziness as you crank it up. I find that SKYBOOST actually adds an element of ‘life’ to a tone, whether using an amp with or without drive/fuzz/distortion pedals. The CONTOUR switch allows you to shift from a more bass-heavy tone to a more treble-enriched tone. The RANGE switch allows you to shift from a lower-gain (sweeter), which is cool if you want a good dose of fuzz that isn’t over the top, to a higher-gain (edgier) setting.

Known best for its super heavy and saturated sounding fuzzes and distortions, Black Arts Toneworks has a solid reputation in the industry. SKYBOOST actually is a calmer pedal within the family, although it offers some very unique qualities for those thriving on a cleaner tone (who want a bit extra boost or dirt when necessary) to those driving high-gain amps and tones looking for some boost or to add front-end definition and pizzazz. Definitely good value at $159 USD. In effect, you can get some very gentle full-range boost with nary a hint of distortion or fuzz, and all the way up to a very aggressive and clearly-defined fuzz. With its two EQ contours (a full-range and a treble emphasized boost) and two boost ranges (low gain and higher gain) there is a lot to work with regardless of the gear you’re using. The SKYBOOST definitely adds to the sound without distracting from the original tone, even when pushing the boost and fuzz (which remains very clear and defined, even when pushing the limits).

Initially you should match the volume of your amp with the SKYBOOST engaged (via the VOLUME knob), and from there you add extra boost, fuzz, etc., as needed. The rest is hardly rocket science, although the range of what you can produce is significant enough and depending on your choices. The GAIN knob is very subtle from zero to even half-way, which range adds some dirt, but nothing over the top (good for a gritty clean or adding some definition to a higher-gain tone). Once you get to 3-o’clock the fuzz really kicks in, and once turned up full at 5-o’clock there is an even more significant difference in the fuzz, as though skipping a few steps into warp-drive. The CONTOUR switch shifts from more bass-heavy (flipped to the left) to more treble-emphasized (flipped to the right). There’s enough bass or treble at either end that you will need to adjust your amp’s bass and treble setting accordingly (unless you want a noticeable increase in bass or treble). The RANGE switch has low gain (flipped left) and higher-gain (flipped right). It’s not a high-gain drive as you would find on high-gain amps and some other pedals, but when placed in front of a high-gain amp you better turn down the amp’s gain, since it tends to drive such amps very hard and very well.

Black Arts Toneworks’ SKYBOOST is an average sized pedal, made of steel, and includes a standard lifetime warranty. The paint is smooth and slightly matt in appearance and feel (not glossy). The paint quality feels good and it would take quite a bit of abuse to scratch it off. The footswitch has a solid click and feels of good quality, as well. The two knobs (VOLUME and GAIN) are of plastic and sit far back enough from the footswitch. Then there is the LED and two switches (CONTOUR and RANGE) that also sit far back enough (the switches sit lower than the knobs and are protected in that regard, and the LED is relatively small and sandwiched safely between the two knobs). All lines (input/output/POWER) are located in the back, to save on pedal board space and to keep unwanted force or pressure away from a stomping foot. You cannot use a battery with SKYBOOST, but a 9v DC power supply (approximately 24mA).

Get a Marshall JCM800 in a Pedal (Doc Music Station - MYSTERE)

By MGR/Brian Johnston, 13/09/2018
The Mystere, by Doc Music Station (France) is a fully analog preamp, allowing you to achieve the tone of a Marshall JCM800 in a pedal:

The JCM800 is one of the most popular Marshall amps (used by Clapton, Hetfield, Wylde and many others) producing excellent singing highs for leads, but also unmistakable crunch tones. The Mystere is no exception. Turn up the Preamp just a little and you get a bit of bite, ideal for some dirty rhythm and some Blues leads. But as you crank the Preamp you get that in-your-face 1980s biting tone. The Presence knob seems to work very well with the Preamp, as you can have the Preamp rather high and it doesn’t sound nearly as dirty if the Presence is low or off, but as you increase the Presence to about 9-10 o’clock the Mystere really comes to life. I also was impressed with the Bass, Middle and Treble – not so much the range of each, but that nothing sounds excessive. For example, pushing the Bass and Middle up full does not produce a muddy signal and the Treble up high sounds clean and clear, as opposed to brittle.

Mystere can be translated as Mystery (or ‘a religious truth via divine revelation, hidden spiritual significance’), Denis over at Doc Music Station named the pedal after his dog, which I think I like better and shows how personal this pedal project is. Available for purchase direct from Doc Music Station (209 Euro) or via, the price is reasonable for the Mystere because of its sound (and it’s a lot smaller than a JCM800 head), while producing a very authentic tone with amp-like responses. You can place it direct to an amp (clean or dirty), but Doc Music Station indicates that it sounds best in the Effects Return Loop, or direct to a CAB simulator for direct send/mixing to a DAW (which is what I did in the demo video). One thing for certain is that the Mystere is a darn cool looking pedal with the grill and color matching of a Marshall head, as well as the same type of knobs. It operates on a standard 9V power supply.

Easy enough to use, as though working with the JCM800 Marshall head, the Mystere does require some minor tweaking in order to get the degree of tone, crunch and sustain you want. No surprise there. The Master control allows you to crank into high-gain territory while keeping the overall levels as low (or as high) as you wish. This works in conjunction with the Preamp (since the Preamp increases volume as the drive/gain increases). However, as you up the Presence, Bass, Middle and Treble, there also is a modest increase in volume. Presence provides a surprising amount of dirt and bite to the tone and works in conjunction with the Preamp. A good dose of Preamp can sound good, but as you get the Presence to about 9-o’clock or a touch higher you really can hear the dirt kick in. As well, the Mystere functions wonderfully with other pedals, including Tube Screamers, fuzzes, distortions and overdrives – accordingly, you may need to adjust the Preamp level and/or the amount of output of the pedals to get the best mix.

The Mystere, measuring in at 3.75 x 4.75 inches (9.5 x 12.0 cm), has an obvious Marshall vibe with a smooth finish to its paint. The chassis feels heavy and is made of aluminum (a Hammond 1590BB aluminum case that provides shielding of the electronic card). The LED ‘on-off’ light is far situated from the foot switch and between two knobs (Preamp and Presence). The footswitch has a solid click to it and may be close to some of the knobs, but those are very heavy in construction and should not pose an issue with aggressive stomping. The guitar cable input and output both are located on the sides, but since the Mystere is a somewhat wide pedal there’s plenty of room for stomping without hitting any cables. The power input is located along the side and toward the front, although it does not appear to be an awkward place for strain when switching the Mystere on and off. The plastic knobs with aluminum toppers are of heavy construction and the pots are of good quality when turned. The true bypass Mystere contains some high quality audio components, including carbon resistors, capacitors a Panasonic SMF FC and Silver Mica, as well as PCB double sided plated through holes FR4 with front and back ground plane, Neutrik jacks, and Alpha 16mm faders. Finally, the pedal is protected against overvoltage and reverse polarity.

From biting sizzle to massive tones (Empress Effects - Heavy)

By MGR/Brian Johnston, 02/03/2019
There are some good demos of the HEAVY and playing one live does not disappoint. However, it does proves that YouTube compression does not do HEAVY justice. As the manual indicates, Channel 1 produces a heavy sound that is thick and punchy, whereas Channel 2 has a heavier sound that is tight and brutal (with more of a saturated quality as you go past 12-noon on the gain). That may best describe it in general terms, but there is a huge assortment of tones possible. Besides a treble and bass control (shared between the two channels) you can customize the midrange frequency in two ways – how much Mids you want, but also whether those mids focus on 500, 250 or 2k in frequency (and you get to customize those mids individually for each channel. Consequently, there’s a lot of tonal control so that you can have a crunch/rhythm sound on Channel 1 and a thick lead tone for Channel 2.

The distortion quality is fantastic – very grainy and edgy without sounding like a nest full of bees. You can achieve that scooped out sound or make it as fat and booming as you like. Often I hear guitarists removing their mids, but doing so sounds exceptional with HEAVY – I tend to be adjusting the Mid knob and messing with the various frequencies the most with this pedal (just when you think something sounds good, something else sounds better). And with two built-in noise gates, you can select a natural or aggressive gate to keep out any hissing noise or for an intense chugging and a ‘stop-quick-on-a-dime’ effect (or keep the Gates turned off all together if preferred). The Weight can really push the signal for that face-slapping quality, and really adds to a full tone when playing lead. Finally, if you want more headroom, power up HEAVY with an 18VDC power supply as opposed to a 9VDC (using a 9VDC will give you a tighter sound, but fewer dynamics).

Although a bit pricey, at $299 USD ($399 Canadian), HEAVY does includes two channels with plenty of flexibility and a killer tone! HEAVY has been around for several years and it’s still around, which suggests its popularity and relevancy. And although there have been several new high-gain pedals flooding the market in the last few years, HEAVY still holds its own very well. You can achieve thick, punchy, tight and brutal tones, but also various levels of crunch merely by keeping HEAVY’s Gain relatively low (9-o’clock) and your guitar’s volume dialed back somewhat. However, HEAVY is known best for is its massive Metal tones that have exceptional ‘cut-through-the-mix’ ability. And it’s all here, from achieving that 80’s Metal quality to more modern down-tuning chugs, which sound nothing short of huge once you up the Gain, crank the Weight and punch some Mids (particularly if powering it with 18VDC for added headroom). With the ability to adjust the Bass, Treble and a 3-position Mid Frequency you can scoop or boost for any sound you desire. And don’t worry about it sounding messy or noisy, since HEAVY includes built-in adjustable Noise Gates, once for each channel. Along with great sounds you also get a great build quality with a steel chassis, metal knobs and a two-year warranty.

With plenty of knobs and switches to consider, think of HEAVY as a 2-channel device that has mirrored controls. Both channels share the same bass and treble control, whereas each side then has its own Gain, Mid (+ frequency selection), Output, Weight and Gate. The Gate has decent flexibility and works very well. It can be kept off (you may be running your own gate), but typically you would want one of two settings. The Natural Gate selection takes out any hissing or minor noises, whereas rhythm playing that requires sudden stops and starts (for a heavy handed sound) works best with an Aggressive Gate. As well, there’s a trim pot on the side that allows you to set the threshold for the Gate. Keeping the threshold to maximum does not steal your tone nor rob you of much sustain.
The Low and Hi (Bass/Treble) work as usual. The Mid (on each channel) also works as it should, although with greater flexibility. You can choose what frequency you want for each channel, whether 500Hz, 250Hz or 2kHz – this function produces a lot of tone flexibility so that each channel can sound very different just based on that factor and whether you cut or boost that frequency. The Gain is still pretty decent at 9-o’clock and really gets ripping at 1-o’clock. Up full it does not sound overly saturated and still cuts through the mix well. The Weight knob gives you that ‘ooomph’ or punch in the tone, which needs to be used carefully and particularly with heavy mids and/or bass. Each Channel also comes with its own Output, so that you can have your crunch rhythm at one level on channel 1, and then have a louder level (boost) for lead playing on channel 2.

HEAVY weighs approximately 1-pound (0.45 kg) and measures 4.5 (w) x 3.5 (l) and 2.0 (h w/ controls) or 11.43 x 8.89 x 5.0 cm. A steel chassis with black powder coated paint (and white lettering) the overall design and quality of HEAVY’s elements are excellent. The two footswitches (to engage or turn on/off each channel) are soft, in that you do not hear any clicking from the switch or in the signal (very important when running high-gain gear) and require only a light step to switch. There are ten knobs that control the various settings and each one is made of aluminum – you won’t crack these with stomping feet. And each pot turns so smoothly and quietly (no crackling), like self-oiled bearings. There are four switches that control the Gate and Mid Frequency, all of which are located behind the knobs (well protected), with solid clicks and plenty of toggle length in which to grasp between the fingers. The input/output are located on the sides, as is the power input. All three are positioned low on the pedal and approximately midway or further back. Power requirements include 200 mA via a standard 9VDC power adapter (it will accept 18VDC for greater headroom). Lastly, HEAVY (as well as all Empress Effects) comes with a two-year warranty against failures resulting from defective parts and/or faulty workmanship.

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[NAMM] [VIDEO] New gear from Earthquaker Devices

Published on 01/25/16
A lot of new gear at the Earthquaker Devices booth with the Spatial Delivery, Night Wire and many more, all demoed on their Sound Projector 25 amp.

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Source Audio Soundblox Pro Multiwave Distortion

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Metasonix TX-2

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