Price paid: C$ 135
Purchased from: Long and McQuade
Ease of Use: I tried this sucker out at the store to see if it had any use other than to replicate the Pantera guitar sound. I was pleasantly suprised, and bought it a few days later. Using any pedal is not rocket science, (Setting all the knobs to max probably won't sound good) so it was easy to just to take out of the box and play. It has eq knobs for bass, mid, and treble, plus knobs for gain and output. It also has an "awesome switch" on it to scoop the mids out. The manual pretty much just had a starting point, saying "Look dumbass, start the knobs here if you haven't already figured out the output knob can make your dog howl." There were also a few spaces to write down your own combinations should you ever have a stroke of genius.
The only problem I have is that it's not battery powered. Better be close to an outlet if you want to use it. I'm knockin' it down a couple points for that. // 7
Sound: There are 2 main sounds from this pedal, the scooped rythm tone and the regular tone. There's also the clean sound, and that just sounds fantastic. Each distorted sound is full of harmonics, and will squeal like a pig having a bad LSD trip on any gain setting. I'm likin' this already. I'll start with the scooped tone first.
I fiddled with the knobs till I got a decent sound (bass at 7, mids 5, treble 6) and then pressed the "awesome switch". It's very growly and sharp. Most tube amps have a distorted sound like "sCHmmmmm", whereas this pedal barks out a "CHggh", even when playing through a tube wannabe amp. It's very good at keeping up with a flurry of palm muted riffs without distortion overlap, but I just can't get a sound that doesn't sound like Dime. Not that it's a bad thing, its just I don't want to show my friends a song I wrote and have them say, "That sounds like Pantera, dude."
The Original sound is wonderful, however. The midrange is nice and punchy and the treble is pretty screechy. When in low tunings, its nice to have the midrange boost so they don't get lost when jamming. It still keeps a lot of the "CHggh" of the scooped setting but less in your face. "Crunchy" would be a word to describe it. Works well witha humbucker. When you're soloing, each note is clear and you get that kickass "WOOoooOOOooo" sound when you vibrato really fast. It sustains like a high gain amp too, but without having to tip-toe across the strings and make damn sure you don't touch anything else. I like this setting because of the versatility, you can dump the gain down and output up and get a nice classic rock / bluesy rock tone. Through my dad's 1970's Traynor 30 watt, I can get a sound akin to Boston or even ZZ top.
The main setting plays well with others. You can knock everything back and make your main amp distorted, and get the rhythm sound of your amp but with the "WOOoooOOOooo" of the solos. // 9
Reliability & Durability: It's pretty solid. Physically speaking. I've dropped it a couple times and nothing happened. It's just a massive metal casing and a chip so how easily could it break? What pisses me off the most about it is the god damn AC adapter. I guess they were aiming for the "Let's eleminate the totally unecessary problem with batteries running out by giving them a totally unecessary AC adapter! But we don't want to spend too much money so lets give then a 5 foot long cord. Sounds good!" so unless your amp is on the stage beside you, you probably won't be able to Switch it without running back and forth. In my living room, or a small school auditorium, it's perfectly acceptable. // 6
Overall Impression: I own a Paul Reed Smith SE EG, a Peavey Vyper 15, my dad's Gibson L6-S, and my dad's 1970-something Traynor 30-watt. I play everything from blues to metal, so this suits me just fine. I've tried playing death metal, but when the time comes to solo I just involuntarily fall back into the classic rock patterns. It's kind of amusing. When you're jamming with this evil sounding riff and your friend sweeps some A-Minor Lydian craziness, and you're like, "Yeah, well...EAT PENTATONICS BITCH!" The main problem I have is the stupid AC adapter. It's like having a lead singer with an I.V. machine...
If it were stolen or lost, I would be angry that I spent 135$ for nothing, but probably not replace it in a hurry. Another product I could compare it to would be the MXR Fullbore metal. I'm not sure if it would give me the "WoOOo" that I like but it does have a lot more eq options.
Overall, this pedal is pretty decent. The scooped sound is like barbeque sauce; it gives it a pretty sharp and sweet flavor, but it doesn't matter how much you pour on because all you will taste is barbeque sauce. The main sound is more like ketchup; it will enhance the taste to the point of succulence but also leave the Original flavor intact. It's pretty delicious. // 8