Price paid: C$ 169
Purchased from: Tapestry Music
Sound — 10
This pedal growls and roars. Catalinbread describes that it is meant to sound like a tweed Deluxe, and it sounds great to my ears. They say the gain starts at like a Deluxe at 3 on the Volume, I think it's more like 12 o'clock on a tweed. Either way, it gives a rich, thick, mid-heavy Overdrive that's tons of fun to play. The gain is old-school crunch on minimum, and dialing it in just put the roar over the top. What amazes me most, though, is the way Pick attack and my guitar's volume lets me clean it right up. From a huge roar to mild break-up without touching the pedal. The tone control is very responsive, as is the level, giving a lot of boost if that's what you want. I'm using the No.5 through a Blue Junior tweed (Jensen Speaker), and each of my guitars keeps it's personality. My American Standard Strat quacks and growls at different levels, sounding unmistakably strat-like. So does my American Standard Tele. Plugging in my Hagstrom Viking with it's humbuckers pushes the overdrive, making it fatter, but I can still clean it up with my Pick attack and the guitar's volume. My PRS SE One Korina, with it's P90, sounds like a monster through this thing, just like it should. The pedal is True Bypass, if that matters. What this pedal won't do is a real smooth clean sound, but then it shouldn't. This pedal does a great job of giving me a Neil Young "Live Rust" sound, of Keith Richards for that matter.
Overall Impression — 10
I search high and low for a pedal that would give me a tweed Deluxe sound, without sounding like a bit of a tweed apology. This thing sounds great and plays wonderfully. Catalinbread says that it sounds different depending on voltage used, with 18 giving a tighter bass. That's fine by me because I like the looser bass of the 9 volt. I've been playing for over twenty years (but I'm still just a hack who likes the sound of my guitar) and this is the best sounding pedal I've owned. I recently got a Fulltone Plimsoul, which sounds great but totally different, but if I could only have one of them it'd be the Formula No.5. Thankfully I don't have to make that choice. Video from YouTube:
Reliability & Durability — 9
This little thing is a solidly built. I've had it for only 6 weeks or so, but I wouldn't hesitate to take it anywhere.
Ease of Use — 10
This easy to use pedal is made in Portland, OR. It has three knobs, a button-style foot switch and a single LED. It can run on 9 volt battery or use an adapter. The adapter can be anywhere from 9 volts to 18 volts, so long as it is negative-on-center. The knobs are: Level, Tone and Gain. The (unsurprisingly) brief manual is easy to use, but how complex could it be? Diving right in when I bought it, I couldn't find a sound I didn't love. I've been using it regularly for 6 weeks and love the sounds coming out of it.