Price paid: $ 24
Purchased from: www.donnerdeal.com
Ease of Use — 8
I won't say it's hard but it does take a little playing with the pedal to match it to your guitar and amp as it does perform differently depending on your pickups and finding the good zone on the Gain knob. The controls are pretty straight forward and intuitive. The only real difficulty I had with using it was adjusting the mini controls.
The main control is the Gain knob, and it's large as it's the main one you will be using, but the volume, treble and bass are all mini knobs which my fingers some times had difficulty maneuvering without hitting the other knobs - that is more my fingers fault then the pedal as this is to be expected with a mini pedal. However the mini knobs don't have marker lines on them, just little notches, but since the notches are small and the same color as the knob they are hard to see, I colored mine in so I could tell where the settings were.
Sound — 7
This is a nice sounding pedal depending on what you want it to do. Playing with single coils you can get a nice clean boost with the Gain around 8 or 9 o'clock, to a nice light overdrive with the Gain set around noon or 1 o'clock. In this range I find the pedal very musical, it ads a nice punch and to your sound, and fattens it up a bit with nice clarity and a bit of warm breakup. Once you turn the Gain up much past 2 o'clock as the gain increases you loose the definition and the fullness that it gives and the low end starts to get muddy and loose. But it sounds great if you are below that threshold.
With humbuckers it's about the same range. If you turn the gain down all the way you will get an almost clean boost¸ turn it up and you get a really creamy and fairly transparent overdrive from a light to a medium at about noon. Then it's the same story, push it past that and the definition starts to suffer, you loose the brightness and the low end starts to mud out. Although I did find strangely that with humbuckers it doesn't get as muddy as with single coils, definitely less muddy compared to a P90. Same story boosting a dirty channel, up to noon it sounds really good, after that no as much. If you are looking for a clean boost or a light overdrive then this pedal sounds really good as long as you can dial in your sound at or before noon on the gain. If you want to push it past that, another pedal is probably the way to go.
Reliability & Durability — 8
This is a mini style pedal but don't let that fool you, it's built tough. A nice solid metal enclosure with metal jacks and a nice true bypass stomp switch and a good quality finish. For its size this pedal has definite heft to it, weighs a hair more than my EHX LPB-1 which is almost twice the size and has a 9V battery in it - definitely doesn't feel like it's going to die under your foot. The backing of the pedal is a kind of foam rubber pad as opposed to a straight rubber backing. It keeps the pedal from sliding around but seems like it will rip or get gouged where rubber wouldn't. I haven't taken it off yet to put velcro on but I have a feeling it won't come off in one piece. PCB mounted jacks - which is a must for a pedal of this size - do create a possible failure point from plugging/unplugging wear - unfortunately this is common practice in pretty much every mainstream and some boutique pedals as well.
Overall Impression — 7
Honestly, my first plug-in I wasn't too impressed, but once I dialed in my tone and took the time to play with it I really started to warm up to it. It's one of those pedals that the more I play it, the more I like it. A nice solidly built pedal that doesn't take up a lot of real estate on your pedal board. I wanted something that would give me a clean or fairly clean boost while maintaining the tone and definition of the notes that I wanted. While it has less headroom and overall volume than my EHX LPB-1, it has enough to do what I want and with the tone controls I can shape the sound the way that I want it. When playing in the sweet zone (as mentioned above) I am really pleased with the performance of this pedal, very similar to what I was using my Soul Food for, and it will probably be on my board for a while. However, even though I can get the sounds I like out of it, I don't like having a pedal that is only usable for half of its range, seems like a waste, I guess that is more a matter of principle then sound. If it was lost or stolen I'm not sure what I would do, for the price it's pretty unbeatable and would probably end up getting another one.