Price paid: $ 88
Purchased from: Coyle's Richboro Music
Sound — 9
I personally think this pedal sounds amazing. Mixing the versatile Eq, the gain circuit, and the boosting, you can get most any sound out of this, from a barking Marshall to a crunchy 6505 and beyond. While not perfect approximations of these amps, with some knowledge of how a high-gain amp is set eq wise, you can carve a real good tone out of this little thing. A good tip is to add extra mids to your amp's base sounds instead of just setting it withs fives across the board. This gives the pedal more to work with, and you end up with fatter tone and smoother gain. Set this on a clean channel with the gain up around the 2 to 4 o'clock area and you'll get that edgy, stop on a dime tone a lot of bands use now since the advent of this pedal. Roll the gain back around 10 and dime the level and you'll get a screaming, fat lead sound reminiscent old 80's Metallica, Testament, and Exodus. My preferred use for this pedal is to put it over the rhythm channel of my 5150 with the amp set for a moderate amount of gain and bring the level up to around 3 o'clock. This gets a huge sound from the mixing of the fatter distortion of the rhythm channel of the amp and the Overdrive from the pedal boosting it. This works with most any amp, and its an ART finding a good spot where its meaty but doesn't cause too much feedback, but once you find it its bliss. This pedal will get you most any hi-gain sound you want, it can go from Judas Priest and Iron Maiden to Cannibal Corpse and the like, and the versatility of its gain options is a welcome addition. Those that say it's distortion sucks simply don't understand how to use it. The tone is great on this little guy, the only complaint is the harshness you can get in the treble region when eq'ed badly, but most any pedal has this problem. The bass is plenty punchy and tight, and the mids are suitably fat or crunchy when the parametric eq is set to taste. The gain knob is very, very usable for metal, but if you're looking for anything pre-Priest, I'd check elsewhere. This amp will give you Metallica and Slayer type tones, along with Pantera, Machine Head, anything you'd like to mimic really. The real trick with this little guy though is definitely learning how to boost the signal with the level knob, which; ets you back off the gain knob and get a fatter smoother tone that's still plenty liquid distortion and tight bottom end.
Overall Impression — 10
I play quite a lot of metal, and a healthy does of punk as well. This pedal does both great. It covers the spectrum from Hardcore like Cro-Mags and Misfits to Black metal and Death Metal. I've been playing instruments for ten years and guitar for three, and I've had my share of amps and pedals, and I have to say that in a pinch, this pedal will get you through it with a god tone to boot! If it were stolen, I'd assuredly replace it, as it's the most convenient way to get a good chuggy tone there is. I love the options this pedal can open up to a player, especially someone who might not have the best amplifier for what they might like to play. This pedal will take that little Fender amp you got as a gift and make it scream, but the real attraction of this pedal is it's ability to grow with you as a player. Most players start out with little amps and stompboxes, and when they get a bigger amp, they sell the stompboxes, no longer needing to run them through the circuit of a 6505 or Marshall or Boogie. The true blessing of this pedal is it's amazing ability to act as both a traditional metal stompbox with its eq and gain, and its versatility as a booster pedal. It can do so many thins if used correctly, and even professional band still use this amp, even thought they run with full Mesa Boogie and Peavey stacks. The one thing I wished I had asked before I bought this is what boosting is. I didn't know how to do it correctly until recently, and it really makes this box about five times as good. I compared this unit to everything other metal box under the sun, and I can really say if I could only have one I would stick with this, it does just about everything a young gain freak could want.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I've had three of these things, and I could probably submerge them in mud and plug right in for a show. If I was caught off gaurd, I would use these without a backup for a gig, but I would bring my DC adapter with me, as I don't really trust batteries for my tone. It's a Boss pedal, and Boss pedals make just as good hammers as they do tone-shapers.
Ease of Use — 7
This distortion box was made with the tone-crazed metalhead in mind. It's four band Eq, with the semi-parametric eq can take a little getting used to, and it's especially hard for newer players to get a handle on. However, once you understand how to use it, it become an extremely effective tone shaper, between it's seemingly limitless gain and its great boosting ability. Any people dislike the gain on this pedal, but enjoy the ability to have the parametric Eq. This can be remedied by using it as a booster, getting some of the gain from your amp and turning the level knob up until you get the desired amount of distortion out of it. The manual for it explains the use pretty well, but the presets it gives are very extreme, and I personally don't think they sound very good. I give this a seven for ease of use because of the learning curve with the pid-band, but once you get this going its just a phenomenal unit.