Price paid: $ 185
Purchased from: proguitarshop.com
Sound — 9
Signal path: Musicman Axis Supersport Rosewood with HighOrder Maximus bridge and 7.5K A5 neck pickups, spectraflex cable, lovepedal eternity kanji, spectraflex cable, fargen olde 800 1x12 combo set clean-ish. Pumping all that through an eminence wizard speaker. Typically my amp is a take no prisoners, in your face RAWK amp (it's a hand-wired version of a JCM 800, what did you expect). Despite this the kanji is very smooth and warm, fattening up the signal just a little bit. My setup is very bright, so I keep the glass knob down pretty low (around 11 o'clock). Turning down the gain and maxing the volume grants you a decent clean boost (I only say decent because it really didn't boost my signal all that much, added a little extra hair for solos). Set the volume on unity and start turning up the Drive, now your into some bluesy, sexy, beautiful Overdrive. If I HAD to compare it to something (I'll be honest, it's a unique sounding Drive), I'd probably say is was like a warmer, ultra-smooth JTM45. But that's through my amp. The pedal seems fairly transparent, so I imagine if you used it with say, a 5e3 type of amp it would probably only make that amp sound sexier. Judging by the responsiveness coming from this pedal I'd imagine it's only designed to work with tube amps (I know some of you tone-freaks out there are crapping your pants because I alluded to putting it through a solid state amp). It's not really the sound I'm after, I can't lie. But boy is this a nice pedal. It really is the nicest Overdrive I've ever personally heard (and if I ever find anything better I'll gladly share it with the world), I'm just not a pedal guy. If I was, this would have a permanent place on my board. I'm going to give this category a 9. I know I've sung the praises of this pedal, and I stand behind every word. But it's not what I am LOOKING FOR. Who knows, this could be someone's tonal nirvana.
Overall Impression — 10
I play RAWK. Real rock I might add. Not this down-tuned, chug-chug, can't-hear-any-dynamics-there's-so-much-distortion crap that's so popular (even though it's slowly declining, thank God), though that tone has it's place as well. I'll throw down some blues, a little punk, maybe even a little funk every now and then (I don't like to limit myself too much on what I play). I don't think it quite matches me as a player, I like quite a bit of edge in my tone. I've been playing for seven years now, and the only gear I own currently is what is listed in my signal path above. If it were stolen? I'd find out Who it was and prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law (I couldn't really blame him for stealing it though, it's a gorgeous piece of tonal art). I don't really love it, but I can't hate it. It's just a different texture than I'm used to. Who knows, maybe one day I'll be jonesing for that tone as well. The only other Overdrive pedal I've owned (played a ton of them, been disappointed by almost all of them) is the Tim pedal by Paul Cochrane (which is a bit of a different animal, it's geared more in toward the blown-Marshall camp). Though I can't put the two side by side, I can tell you that they're not comparable. The Tim is a bit more raunchy and edgy, but not nearly as sweet or warm or smooth. I can't really say I wish the kanji had anything else. It would be wrong of me. Sometimes you come across a piece of gear and realize just how beautiful it is. You may not like everything about it, but you don't want to change it because that would be like defacing a beautiful painting or putting MOPAR parts on a Chevy.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I took a peek up underneath this things skirt when I first got it and was terribly impressed. This is, without a doubt, the cleanest and most solidly wired ANYTHING I've ever seen. The Switch is solid as a rock (and completely silent I might add, no click, no pop, instant gratification... Nice) and the knobs and pots have a super smooth taper. The box feels substantial enough to take a baseball bat (though I would never test that theory). I'll only give it an 8 because I'll probably never gig with this pedal.
Ease of Use — 10
This is quite possibly the simplest pedal I've ever used. Every sound us use-able, so dialing in something nice just depends on your mood that day. Didn't come with a manual, but it doesn't really need one. There are only three knobs, and if you can't figure out what they do in less than 10 seconds you probably shouldn't be playing guitar in the first place.