Price paid: $ 150
Sound — 8
I've been using this mostly with my Heartfield DR-5. On the lower settings, the sound of the individual instrument comes through clearly, mixed with the distorted sound. As far as noise, well, it's not completely quiet, although it's not bad. There's a tiny bit of hiss, but it's really not objectionable. The switches do make noise if you switch them while the pedal is on, but not the ear-shattering pops that were mentioned in the Bass Player magazine review. Fred Bonte (who makes the Black Cat pedals) apparently took that criticism seriously and has made the switching much quiter. Again, the noise that this unit has doesn't bother me. The true bypass footswitch is quiet. This unit is a fuzz, not an overdrive, although on low settings, you can get a warm sort-of overdrive sound from it. From there, you can go to a harder-edged sound, the type of distortion that seems to _increase_ note definition, or all-out raspy thrash fuzz. It will even do a reasonable tuba/trombone imitation. You can also use it as an almost clean boost, although it's not designed for that, and won't replace your Fulltone Fat-Boost or whatever.
Overall Impression — 8
I play mostly in church (every Sunday in fact), and I've found uses for this pedal there. We play contemporary music, and this sound fits sometimes. I've actually gotten compliments on the sound. As I mentioned above, some settings can give you a sharper, more defined sound, which can be good for fast passages, whether staccato or legato. I haven't been able to try very many bass distortion pedals. I tried the MXR M-80 for about a month, and thought it was cool, and I tried the Phat-Hed and didn't like it. I didn't need all the features of the M-80, and I wanted a dedicated distortion, so I got the BOF. I'd like to try a Woolly Mammoth, but based on the reviews I've read, the BOF sounds like a better pedal for me. I'd replace it if it were stolen. I've been playing bass about twenty years, but I've only recently become interested in distortion.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I've only had it a couple of months, but I don't expect anything to go wrong. These are hand-made, "boutique" pedals, with point to point wiring and sturdy cases, pots and switches. Somewhere I saw a criticism of this pedal because the case is made of sheet metal rather than a heavy casting. If you're going to drive roofing nails with it, then that's probably a concern. Otherwise I don't think it's a problem. I'm sure if you jumped up and down on it, you could break the pots and mini-toggle switches, but if that's how you treat your pedals, you don't deserve them.
Ease of Use — 8
It's pretty easy to get a good sound. In fact, it's harder to get a bad sound out of this unit, unless you just turn all the knobs up or something like that. There are three knobs, which are labeled Normal, Drive, and Effect. Normal controls the amount of dry signal passing through the box. Drive controls drive (duh). Effect controls how much of the effected signal is mixed in. There's a lot of variation available here, but there are also two switches, labeled Filter and Harmonic. These are a little harder to describe, but I'll just say that they also give different qualities to the sound.