Price paid: $ 174.95
Purchased from: Wildwood Guitars
Sound — 10
In a world of moonshine, this pedal is a 18year, single-malt scotch. That's the best way I can describe it. For one, it's a pedal that takes some refinement to appreciate. The fact that it's "low-gain" alone, makes it an outsider in today's world. But there are innumerable subtleties to this pedal that you'll continue to discover as you tweak it. Trying to relate the sound of this pedal to anything else is hard because it honestly doesn't sound like anything else I've played, and you can get so many different sounds out of it. It's smooth like a Tube screamer, but never boxy or overly midrange heavy. It also retains a lot of bass without sounding muddy, and overall retains a great deal of your guitar's natural tone. The way it interacts with other overdrives is also fantastic. Whether you're using it as a clean boost, using it to Drive other pedals, or using other pedals to Drive it, it brings out some fantastic characteristics, and will add a whole new layer of complexity to whatever you stack it with. I also love adding it onto my amp's overdrive. Whether live or laying down tracks, this is a pedal I never leave home without. I'm constantly coming back to it, and constantly impressed by the sounds I can get from it. For the record, the Guitars I'm using are: Fender 2010 American Standard Stratocaster, Fender Custom Wildwood "10" '61 Stratocaster w/John Cruz pickups, and a Gibson ES-355. The amps are: Fender Hot Rod Deluxe Ver. II and a Two-Rock Custom Reverb Signature Ver. II. I also almost always run a Keeley Compressor before my OD pedals.
Overall Impression — 10
Overall, this is one of those truly unique pedals that not only sounds great, but actually inspires your playing. I've gotten some straight-up magic out of this pedal, and I would recommend it to any true Overdrive connoisseur. Be ready to work a little bit to find the tone you want, but once you find it, wow... And if you ever get tired of that sound, you can just mess around for a while and find a totally different one. You can listen to it at 2:45 in this recording, using an American Strat, Fender Hot Rod Deluxe, and also the Keeley Compressor. As with any piece of gear like this, try it before you buy it. Unless you're a metal or hard rock player, I seriously doubt you'll be disappointed, and even if you are, who knows?
Reliability & Durability — 10
I've been gigging with it for almost two years now. It's never left my board since I bought it, and I've had no technical problems with it so far. The real test will be five or so years down the road, but everything I know about the pedal and about Barber as a company suggest that there's nothing to worry about.
Ease of Use — 5
Fairly low marks in this category for a couple reasons. For one, the owner manual is more confusing than it should be. There are some pretty glaring typos, but it also doesn't really explain some of the key features of the pedal. In particular, the "Comp" knob functions and the upper toggle switch are very poorly explained in my opinion. As the other review said, this is one of the most customizable pedals you'll ever use, so it would only make sense to go into some detail about the functions. Granted, I'm a player who really likes to understand this kind of stuff, but unless you're pretty seasoned in the vernacular and/or really know what you're listening for, this pedal could be really hard to figure out for a beginner. Also, the internal trim pots are a pain. I'm VERY glad they're there in the first place, but they're hard to access (whine, whine).