Price paid: $ 89.99
Purchased from: buildyourownclone.com
Sound — 8
Apparently, this is a Marshall Shredmaster clone. The pedal has 5 knobs: level, gain, treble, contour, and bass. This is not an Overdrive and the gain knob is almost useless. In lower settings you only get a slight break up, and from 11 to 2 o'clock you get a mediocre rock sound. From then on, you'll get a massive surge in gain, where it sounds pretty damn good. This pedal was made to have the gain maxed for balls-to-the-wall '80s heavy metal. You can get decent trash sounds with scooped mids, but I prefer the crank the mids up. From old-school Metallica to modern Megadeth, this pedal has the thrash market covered. This is, of course, a distortion pedal so you'll be using the clean channel on your amp. While I bought this pedal to get used to building, I also wanted a pedal I could use when the provided amplifier only has a clean channel (or a crap OD one). If you're a high-gain guy, this pedal, along with maybe an overdrive, will support your chuggy needs. I've used this pedal with a telecaster as well. I have to say, I think I like this pair best. The contour knob brings a great variety of tone to a tele. From that thick "Lonely Boy" (The Black Keys) chug to that "Black Shuck" (The Darkness) bite, using this pedal with a tele was simply a joy. So I'll give it an 8 because when it's good, it's really good. It isn't, however, a versatile pedal, but versatility is for wimps.
Overall Impression — 8
The pedal on it's own isn't meant for any sort of modern metal. Unless you have an Overdrive pedal to pair it with, you can't get any tight rhythm riffing, unless you're going for that scooped mid sound. With regards to metal, I'm really into bands that use a lot of mids, like Lamb Of God. I can only nail LoG tones if I pair it with an overdrive. On it's own, when using a humbucker guitar, I mostly use it for the great lead tones I can achieve. With a telecaster, I love it for both rhythm and lead tones. I've been playing for almost 5 years now. I've been using this pedal with an Schecter C-1 Artist II (Duncan JB in the bridge, '59 in the neck), Ibanez RG2EX1 (V7/V8 pickup combo), and Squier Classic Vibe '50s Telecaster. I'm playing through a Blackstar HT-60 State 2x12 combo, and have paired this pedal with a Hardwire CM-2 Overdrive, MXR CAE MC-404 Wah, and Boss Harmonist. Are there better pedals out there? I don't know. Probably. I wish it could handle lower gain settings a little better. But it's still a great pedal (especially for the price) and you get to build it yourself. That may be cumbersome to some, but as a dude that likes staring at pedal guts, it was a nice experience and I'll definitely be buying more from BYOC, or other companies that sell kits, in the future. BYOC has great info on their site - take advantage of it. READ THE MANUAL BEFORE BUYING so you don't GET INTO SOMETHING YOU'RE NOT PREPARED FOR. Video from YouTube:
Reliability & Durability — 7
This entirely depends on how well you build it. Seeing as I'm the one who built my own, I would say that it isn't dependable at all and could fall apart any minute. If you think you did a pretty good job building yours, then it's probably fine. I'm not so confident, as this was my first build. It comes in a standard steel encasing, with complimentary rubber pads to place on the bottom (unless you prefer to Velcro it on your board). I probably would use it at a gig without a backup. Many issues that could arise from this pedal is most likely a user error. 7 again for neutrality's sake.
Ease of Use — 7
Seeing as this is a fairly simple pedal (who will have difficulty operating this?), I'll devote this section to the actual build. I'm not the most handy guy with a soldering iron, but excluding a few mishaps that were completely my fault (I have the blisters to prove it), I had a relatively easy time assembling it. If you've messed around with soldering PCB's before, you'll have no trouble putting this one together. The pedal has 5 knobs so there's a decent amount of wire-work (my worst enemy). The key thing to this build, in my opinion, is properly tightening the pots. They only supply one washer for each pot, meaning that while you're tightening it, you pot could be spinning like crazy on the other end, and there isn't a lot of room to get some pliers in there from stopping this spin. Easy really easy to accidentally over-tighten the pots, which gives off a horrible noise or no noise at all. If you're careful, read the manual completely before turning that iron on, and are patient, you'll have no trouble here. I'll give it a 7 for neutrality's sake.