Price paid: $ 79.95
Sound — 10
This way above average distortion pedal with a variety of uses. I haven't opened the housing but I believe it uses digital modeling technology rather than transistor or tube type construction. It's very smooth sounding not a harsh digital sound but lacking the punch and clarity of a tube driven distortion. If you're using it with a tube amplifier this shouldn't be a concern. This unit is labeled a distortion pedal but it's capable of nice overdrives and a clean boost as well. Adding to it's versatility is cabinet simulation 2nd output jack which works well. I tried it through a cassette portastudio and through M-audio/Deltalogic on a G4 Mac and achieved good results though I would recommend using a tube mic/preamp or tube compressor in the chain if you have those available. As far as the distortions sound on this pedal beauty is is always in the ears of it's maker.It's voiced on the mellow side, I generally keep the tone control turned all the way to the treble side at all times, the gain knob and the morph knob is where all the action is at. I use amplifiers known for their brightness: Vox AC15, Fender super reverb, Carvin Vintage 50 head. I also use single coil pick-ups on my guitars.If you use Marshall Amps and Humbuckers on your guitars you might find the Hotrod too murky or cranking the treble controls may be an option to get that in your face sound. The morph control is what makes this pedal unique and it allows you to get more of a variety of sounds than your average distortion pedal. If youre a beginner or have a limited budget the few extra bucks it'll cost you to get the Hotrod is still a better deal than an inexpensive DOD or Boss and a way better deal than a Tubescreamer or a Maxon or any of those pricey boutique pedals. No distortion pedal is perfect, there's always another that can get you different flavors. I dug this one.
Overall Impression — 10
I Play a mix of psychedelia, hardrock, punk, rockabilly, and the twangy stuff. I've been playing 17 years and own a variety of stuff. I would buy this again if lost or stolen. It's an easy pedal to use with a variety of sounds an applications. It's not my main source of distortion but I do a lot of recording this pedal is useful for extra tidbits and it's quiet.
Reliability & Durability — 10
Built sturdy, But I haven't had long enough to know it's longevity. I use a pedal board so I don't know if it sucks batteries.
Ease of Use — 10
It's Distortion effect pedal in a Boss style housing. 4 knobs: LEVEL, TONE, GAIN, and MORPH. It's simple to use, the morph knob is the only mysterious one. The manual says it a morphing control between 3 different distortion voicings: smooth distortion, british stack, high gain fuzz. It's kind of like an extra tone/gain variation control. A real nice addition that mkes this pedal different from most other distortion pedals. It's easy to find useful sounds out of this unit, you don't have to play around for hours to find a sweet spot and you'll find many sweet spots not just 2 or 3 as with some distortion pedals. Another unique feature is cabinet simulation 2nd output jack for a direct mixer/recording set-up. The manual could have been more elaborate considering there are so many sounds available in this unit, such as suggested settings for certain sounds. Not that you should play by a rulebook. I'm a firm believer self-intiated creativity.