Price paid: C$ 70
Purchased from: Uknown Guitar Store
Sound — 7
I mainly use two guitars for this; my LP and an ESP LTD Flamed Maple LP style guitar with ESP humbuckers (a simply metal guitar!). I've used it through two amps. Amp one; a Washburn Mini-Bad-Dog amp. 10 watts, low, mid and high. I cut all the EQ flat, left the volume up for a decent amount, and plugged into it. If the pedal can Shine through this amp, it will through any other, and it did; this pedal doesn't have a "digital feel" like some other brands to say the least. It actually resembled real tube breakup which was odd to me anyway. It was clear, this pedal, and I mean this with the best intentions, was designed for practice or bedroom amps, for punk-rockers who wanted a quick gnarly tone with the added benefit of being able to tweak their sound. The second amp; my Line 6 Flextone III. Now, the Flextone III in itself is a very warm amp, that emulates a lot of great solid state and tube amps very well. I played it through a JC120 model, all through to a Mesa Dual and Triple Rectifier. I found best results on a JC120 model and a Vox AC15/AC30 model, with the Drive set low, and the EQ flat, and then I go from there. I turn the Drive up on the clean channeled amps to about 11 O'Clock, flatten the EQ, and then tweak the EQ and Drive with the SM7 Pedal. To get a dirty southern tone this worked perfectly. One of my big issues was the lack of a mid level control knob in the EQ section. I noticed though, it was not a big deal. In fact, this pedal already lacked mids enough to give you a feel that they didn't even consider mids in the pedal AT ALL, which isn't a bad thing. So, my second trick; throwing the pedal in front of the Soldano SLO100 model amps for some added EQ! I do this by turning the Drive right down on the pedal to about 7 O'Clock, then turning the Level right up, flattening the EQ, and then working the amp for my overall EQ and drive. Stomp in the pedal, and you've got a smooth overdriven solo/lead tone aside from your rhythm which works amazingly. All in all, the top-section knobs are doing what they need to. Now the issues I've encountered include a very bad fuzziness; your guitar, even when the volume all the way off, it still hums through the amp, and its worse when your playing. As to why, I don't know. All I know is, the Void sections help a TON, but they, for some crazy reason, decide they will leave a very noticeable 1/2-1 second delay on the noise suppression, which is inconvenient, and makes it more apparent. I get the feeling like they did something to the circuitry that REQUIRED them to put this is, god way to far ahead of themselves, and made what should have been a good idea... Bad. Aside from that, the Smooth and Sharp settings to very little to my taste. Overall, aside from the hiss, it provides very good tones, though I can only see the hiss getting louder at higher volumes.
Overall Impression — 8
I play mostly dropped southern metal, like Pantera, Down, and I usually play Black Metal such as Mayhem or Venom, in the half punk/half black metal style (really fast power chords, diminished chords, and minor chords). I've been using it quite a bit, and I like it, it suits my needs for all the above listed, and can do more. After a life of playing, there are still pedals that seem new and unique to me, and this pedal would be in that category. I am still not liking the humming, but what can you do, its worth the sacrifice. I would replace this pedal if lost or stolen, and I would hope the ladder doesn't happen, but I could see why someone would. The ease of use, the tone, construction, the name of Ibanez, everything to me striked the thoughts "Tank, Metal, Beast, FREAKING CRAZY" and it fulfilled my desires. It's lately been my preferred metal tone for a stomp-box pedal made simply just for that purpose. Like I said, if your looking for some Muddy Waters, or some Miles Davis, this isn't going to work. I see this pedal compared a lot to the DigiTech pedals, which are great mind you, but your preference is your preference, and this pedal, at this moment, I am getting more and more used to, as it provides a different sound to most distortion pedals out there now, and you have to play it to hear it.
Reliability & Durability — 10
This thing is built like a tank. Some people say its too light, but I can see it being up to par with the build of a Boss which, in my opinion, are the most durable pedals I've ever set my eyes on. The "Tonelock" technology seems to be reliable. Simply said.
Ease of Use — 9
Getting a half decent sound from this pedal is half-decently easy! There are a couple of bugaboo's I could point out, but mainly, the layout of buttons, followed by the description of them makes navigating virtually effortless. As far as it goes, this pedal follows under the "tweak to your preference" situation. It features a Drive Knob, followed by an "EQ" Section, with "Lo" and "Hi" options only, and a Level knob. There is also Void, ranging from OFF to 2, and EDGE, from Sharp to Smooth, which we will get to later. Also, in case you didn't know, the series this pedal is in is called, "Tonelock", basically accenting the fact that you can put the buttons down to make them level to pedal (you cannot adjust them as they are in the pedal), or pop them out to normal.