Price paid: $ 85
Purchased from: Dr. Music
Sound — 3
I'm a bit worried because I seem to be the only person in the world who pretty much hates this pedal. I bought it in... 2009, I think, with only a year of guitar playing under my belt and immediately plugged it in with everything on 10. Predictably, it sounded appalling. As I grew as a player and learnt more about it, I came to realize that no matter how I set it up, it still sounded unremarkable. My current rig is Gibson Les Paul Custom/Fender Stratocaster MIM/Aria Pro II > UM100 > Behringer Delay > Crybaby Wah > Fender RM65. I play everything from Behemoth to John Denver, and I'm afraid to say that it has exactly 3 usable settings and nothing else. It has an excellent, if very noisy death metal tone, you know, the seething tone that sounds like "...And Justice For All" taken up to the next step, a decent but unremarkable Angels & Airwaves tone, and if I put my output gain up and distortion to about 2, with a tube amp running low gain (i.e. clean on the gain channel), you can use it to push the amp into overdrive. Each of these tones takes a long time to set up and is really quite unremarkable, and if you attempt to get anything else out, either it sounds like balls or alternatively you're much, much more talented than I am. I record my stuff on Guitar Rig 5, and I consider myself quite good at recognizing a good tone when I hear one. I've learnt all the ins and outs of tone, including that mids are good, less gain is more gain etc, but I'm afraid this pedal doesn't really cut it. The treble knob behaves more like an on/off switch than a variable tone control, the bass knob is much the same, and the gain is noisy, rough and pathetically weak under low-gain conditions. I'll keep using it in my live rig because I'm poor and it does the job with the softer stuff, but in general I didn't like it at all.
Overall Impression — 3
I play in 2 bands at the moment, and I record lots of different music on the periphery. In the metal band I played in when I bought this, it was satisfactory. Noisy and it had insane feedback, but I couldn't really complain. I played in a band at a youth club at about the same time, and playing through the house Marshall/Mesa combos, it was bad. I took it out of my rig because the house amps were better in every way. Playing live with my current bands, it does the job in both (Rock/Alternative bands) of adding an extra layer of gain to my relatively clean amp sound. Nothing about this pedal blew me away. I wasn't enamored with the tones, or the build, it didn't have any redeeming features other than being pink, and nothing in the 4 years I've owned it other than budget restraints has made me want to keep it. If it was stolen, I'd use my amp's gain channel solely and wouldn't really miss it as I don't play live often enough for a distortion pedal to be vital. I'd rather get my digital rig sounding better. Eventually I'd probably replace it with a Boss DS-1 or Tubescreamer. If you like seething solid-state metal tones or you want a satisfactory starting pedal, then by all means, buy one, but there's a whole lot of much better gear out there and although I've tried to eke as much out of this as possible, it feels too much like polishing a turd.
Reliability & Durability — 5
I do gig with this (if you can call the shows I do "gigs") without a backup, but I always, always change my battery before I use it because it has died on me before. It's also worth mentioning that the rubber footpad fell off in the 2nd month. It's plastic and whilst it seems tough enough, I imagine that if one was playing some Slayer and stomped on the box mid-headbang, one could crack the plastic casing without too much difficulty. Generally speaking, I use this pedal because when I play my softer stuff, it does the job of adding a little bit of Overdrive to my relatively clean amp tone. I have used it with metal bands before, and whilst I'm gentle with my pedals, I Imagine at a proper metal show it could get broken.
Ease of Use — 8
Right, so formalities out the way first: it is exactly what you'd expect from a distortion pedal: drive, treble, mids, bass, mids freq., output gain. It can run off a 9v battery or wall power. Annoyingly, it wasn't sold with a power lead which meant that I have been running it off a battery since I bought it. It's also bright pink, which imho is wonderful because black pedals are a bit cliche and I love the old EVH mantra of "let's make it colourful, because that's better". It spices up my pedalboard a bit, so despite the fact that there are no patches and the manual is of more use as a bread filler than a manual, because it is intuitive to use (to the extent where you don't need a manual) and has everything you'd expect from a distortion pedal, no complaints here.