Price paid: $ 174.95
Purchased from: www.tonefactor.com
Sound — 10
From left to right on the top of the pedal you have volume (no surprises here), tone (just like the tone control on most other effect pedals; leave the knob down and you have "SR eq" whatever that means, pull it up and you get "snarl eq" which is a bit louder and more bold and punchy; if you haven't guessed by now, this is a push/pull knob), dynamics (adjusts dynamics and compression in conjunction with the mini-toggle switch; this is also a push/pull knob; when down you get the pedals' "smooth" sound, when up you get its "crunchy" sound, the crunchy IS quite a bit louder), and gain (again, no surprises here). On the INSIDE of the pedal you have four different trim pots, and all are distinctly labeled so you do need a diagram; Note Shape (adjusts the amount of bass that hits the circuit, this is a fairly subtle control to my ears, but it does help adjust to a new amp a lot), bass (adjusts overall bass, nothing special), midrange (adjusts overall midrange) and presence (adjusts the amount of treble which hits the circuit and can give you a little bit more "cut" in the tone of the pedal). There's also a mini toggle Switch on the top of the pedal. In the far left position you get "cascading compression sounds", in the middle you get a simulated asymmetric preamp and on the right you get a simulated asymmetric power amp. Again, all of the settings on the mini toggle mostly affect how the dynamics knob works. Now that I've tried my best to describe the multitude of ways you can tweak this pedal, how about I tell you how it sounds. It's always smooth and growling at the same time. The best tonal reference I can give you here is that the pedal kind of sounds like a mix somewhere between a dumble sound and a Marshall sound. The Cool part of the name is an apt description to say the least. This pedal makes you just want to sit back and jam a little. And while you can tweak the controls for days and keep tweaking, it isn't really hard to dial in for your amp. I'm playing this pedal through a Roland JC 50 and I'm driving the pedal with my Warmoth tele with a single HighOrder Pickups T-top replica in the bridge. It's very easy to dig in and get some great crunch and bolder tones. And at the same time it's equally easy to play lighter and get a smooth, singing, sustaining tone. A gentleman on youtube who does excellent demos described this as the best Overdrive he'd ever played. Saying it's the most amp-like pedal he's ever heard. I'd say that's a very solid assessment. I actually think this pedal sounds fairly similar to the Rothwell Hellbender. Which WAS my favorite overdrive, but it doesn't have enough tonal control and I could never get the bass equalized with my amp. No such problems here. This pedal is spectacular. It ain't flashy and it ain't over-the-top, but it still sounds amazing. A truly unexpected 10.
Overall Impression — 10
I play whatever strikes my fancy at the time. This pedal will feel at home for blues, classic rock and probably even some dirty jazz. But this is NOT a pedal designed for metal music at all. The medium gain description is... Almost stretching it to be truthful. I'm hitting the pedal with a nice humbucker, I imagine a single coil will turn this pedal into a light gain only overdrive. But I don't care about that. I've been looking for a low-mid gain Overdrive pedal that was half this good for a while. Just plain good stuff, full of wonderful tone.
Reliability & Durability — 9
Barber has been around for a while, and I've never heard anyone talk trash about them for any reason. Even so, they're terribly easy to contact, and they're really nice. EVEN IF I ever have a problem with the pedal I'm sure they'd fix it no problem. I'm not sure what the finish is, but it's a little textured and very thick (the graphics are inlaid into the finish), I don't see any issues there either. Short of stomping through this thing I really can't see any problems in the future.
Ease of Use — 7
First, this is a low to medium gain Overdrive pedal which comes with a single sheet of paper for a manual detailing mostly the functions of all the controls. It has the most controls I've ever had the pleasure of using on an overdrive, ever. I'll try to stick to the keep-it-simple-stupid mentality while explaining them all to you. I'll describe them in the sound section, since you can tweak this pedal for days. Not all the controls are external, 5 of them are trim pots on the inside of the pedal. While I enjoy the sheer tweakabiblity of this, it's a pain in the rear to have to open the pedal up and tweak things when I change to a different amp.