Philosopher's Tone Review

manufacturer: Pigtronix date: 01/12/2012 category: Guitar Effects
Pigtronix: Philosopher's Tone
If your not satisfied by this compressor, your going to have a hard time finding a better one. Great job Pigtronix.
 Sound: 9
 Overall Impression: 9.3
 Reliability & Durability: 9.3
 Ease of Use: 8.3
 Overall rating:
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reviews (3) pictures (3) 11 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 8.8
Philosopher's Tone Reviewed by: devilchildblues, on september 08, 2010
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: A$ 200

Purchased from: 555 Guitars

Ease of Use: Not too many reviews on this unit out there so here I go. Now this is my first Compressor so please be gentle on any "well duh" moments. 5 knobs: grit(distortion), sustain(threshold), blend(mix), treble(hi cut/boost) and volume(signal cut/boost). If you know your way around a Compressor I'm sure this will all be second nature but it did take me a while to make sure all the levels I was dialing in were usable. The manual was very easy to understand even though it didn't say much, and it also had presets to help you find basic tones. // 6

Sound: Humbuckers on all my guitars. 1st in my pedal chain, as recommended. Usually a univibe will follow into my tube amp. The compression on this baby is very transparent as long as your not boosting your signal too much, I like the sustain knob at about 2 o'clock. This ensures my picking isnt too rubbery from the compression, and the sustain on my guitar increases nearly 3 times longer. The blend knob is self explanatory, all the way left is all dry and all the way right is all wet. The grit knob opens up a very nice fuzz. what's different is instead of distorting your signal, it opens almost a parallel signal that has the fuzz so you will always hear your clean sound which is awesome. I really love it clean next to the fuzz but it also works well with another distortion too, fills the harmonic gaps in my amp distortion without making sound like a Krank amp with the gain all the way up. The treble knob is a cut/boost which is neutral at 12 o'clock. I find it a little weak in what it does but it still is noticeable, don't think you'll have an ehx Screaming Bird with it cranked though. And finally the volume knob, I have it at 12 noon. This is a slight signal cut but not much and it is dead silent. At about 2-3 o'clock you start to get background hiss, more if you have the grit on. All the way left will kill the signal, and all the way right is a 20db boost according to the manual. This thing sounds amazing to me, and aptly named too "philosopher's tone" if you love tweaking your sound, these 5 knobs are a great addition to your arsenal. I would have gladly paid twice as much as I did for the sound quality this has. // 10

Reliability & Durability: This thing looks extremely well built. I've only had it a week and I don't gig, if I did though I know I could rely on this unit. The painted finish looks much nicer than any picture or video and the Original US wall wart doesnt't seem flimsy, it also came with an australian adaptor too which is great. I hate the after market adapters I normally get. // 9

Overall Impression: Playing for 10 years now and I'm a definite gear head. I grew up on Grunge and metal, and have been progressively moving to hard rock and now into clean sounds. Whatever style you play from hi gain to clean this thing sounds great, and the little additions of the treble and grit knobs make it that much more versatile. I went to the shop only to test it out but after hearing it I just couldnt leave it there, even though I couldnt afford it. If it were lost or stolen I would easily buy another for double the price, this thing has become like the Holy Grail to me. Biblical not ehx. It can't run on batteries and the jack says 12-18v but in the shop the had a 9v one spot, though I did read on the internet it has more headroom if you feed it the full 18v (which is the rating on its Original jack) and sooo affordable too. Think about how much you've spent on other pedals. This thing isnt expensive but it will stand out in quality against all your other pedals. Couldnt wish for anything more except a way to get over it, so awesome sounding, so well built, so tweak-able yet very intuitive, can't get over it. If your not satisfied by this compressor, your going to have a hard time finding a better one. Great job Pigtronix. // 10

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overall: 8.3
Philosopher's Tone Reviewed by: Bob_Smith, on february 04, 2011
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 169

Purchased from: Pro Guitar Shop

Ease of Use: Very straightforward to use - the knobs do exactly what they say: 'grit' adds a little bit of a warm fuzz, 'sustain'.. well that's pretty self-explanatory, 'blend' effectively alters the level of compression (all the way left being none, all they way right being a lot), 'treble' is a high cut/boost, 'volume' is a signal cut/boost. Not much to in from that aspect really. The manual will tell you something similar, and gives you a bunch of presets that work really nicely. I find it's best to use the suggested setting for 'transparent compression' in the manual, and then season to taste depending on the volume you're playing at. The manual also suggests that you can find a perfectly good tone without using the grit knob. This is probably the best advice that it gives. // 9

Sound: I use this with a Belman Double Cutaway Flattop Deluxe (the guitar that is most similar would be a PRS Custom 22 with flamed maple top) and a Squier Strat modded with Texas Specials. The Philo appears second in my chain: Dunlop Orig Crybaby -> Philo -> Ibanez TS9DX -> MXR KFK 10 Band EQ -> MXR EVH Phaser -> Boss DD-20 into a Fender G-DEC Jr (yes, cheap amp, I know). I typically play with headphones to avoid annoying the rest of the house and the neighbours if this makes any difference to you. As with a lot of Compressor pedals, the Philo can be quite noisy. A noise gate will come in handy if you're playing at higher volumes with high gain. My current setting is: grit at 0 (all the way to the left), sustain and blend at 12 o'clock, and treble and volume at 1:30. I've found that it doesn't really do you any justice turning the settings up any higher (at least with my lack of noise gate). The compression, as far as increasing/decreasing volume goes, is quite weak and thus does not go a long way to bringing out pinch harmonics, but purely as a means of increasing sustain, this pedal really does the trick. My Belman hasn't been setup up properly in a long while, but I can potentially get a minute's worth of sustain on a single note with this thing. In terms of tone, I'm trying to go for Petrucci and Mayer, both of whom use a fair bit of compression. The Philo itself doesn't do a whole lot in achieving either for rhythm tones, but this is because it's a compressor, not an EQ or an OD etc. However, for leads, it is a must, at least with my setup. This is probably more an issue of guitar action/intonation etc for me, but I find that now that I've used the Philo, I can't not use it - I simply can't get enough sustain without it. I've given it a 7 because of the noise with high gain + volume, and because of the minimal effect it has on pinches. // 7

Reliability & Durability: I've only had it for just over a month, but it hasn't failed me in any way. Just remember to use the adapter that is supplied as the pedal runs on 18V DC, as opposed to the usual 9V DC for most pedals. I mean, it works with it, but the manual says quite specifically not to. The adapter can be used internationally - the voltage rating specifies 100-240~ V, which basically covers every standard home powerpoint in the world. I would gig without a backup for two reasons (though have yet to): 1. I highly doubt it would die on me 2. Even if it did, it's a compression pedal. I doubt the audience would really notice that much unless they were massive tone junkies... and even then. // 9

Overall Impression: I've been playing guitar, all up now, about 7 years - classical for all of that time, Acoustic for about 5 years and electric for 3. As stated before, I'm trying to achieve Petrucci and Mayer tones, and while this pedal lacks in the volume adjusting component of compression, it is amazing in the amount of sustain it provides. I did actually buy this blindly; I live in Australia and Pro Guitar Shop's price with their Christmas discount, the exchange rate, and the free shipping with the other 3 pedals I got, was far too good an opportunity to pass up. It was a good buy in the end; it does the majority of what I want it to; that was largely to improve sustain. The only thing I really wish it had is a little stronger volume adjusting; the noise is fixable with a noise gate. I was originally set on the Keeley 2 knob compressor, but it was sold out. Around then, NakedInTheRain bought the germanium version of the Philo a bit before I did (but he has since traded it for a Lovepedal Kanji Eternity) and at the time said it was amazing. Ultimately, I ended up with the base model because the germanium model was sold out too. I also considered the Diamond Comp and the Barber Tone Press, but both were a bit pricey. If it were stolen/lost, I'd consider buying it again, but there are some pretty awesome compressors on the market which I would also consider. // 8

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overall: 10
Philosopher's Tone Reviewed by: njpg, on january 12, 2012
0 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 99

Purchased from: Guitar Center

Ease of Use: Although the control knobs are simple, I ended up playing around with it a lot as it provides a lot of subtle nuances to choose between. The manual is simple and provides some suggested presets, but the P-Tone is the kind of pedal you just have to fool around with and listen to yourself play through to develop your own sound, and it is thus aptly named. It has a "grit" knob that mixes in a layer of very unusual, creamy-smooth distortion that I like much better than most modern distortion pedals I've heard (I think it sounds a little like the old script-logo MXR Distortion Plus); a "sustain" knob that really lets my guitar's tone Shine and sing; a "blend" knob to mix the wet & dry signal; a "treble" knob to boost or roll back the high end; and a "volume" knob. My guitar has P90 pickups, and the neck sound through the P-Tone clean is one of the nicest sounds I've ever heard. // 10

Sound: I currently use a Godin LG SP90 guitar and a Fender Mustang I amp set to imitate the sound of a '65 Fender Twin Reverb. I use a lot of effects, but not all of them with the P-Tone. Here are the combinations that I find work well: 1) Crystal clean tone: Godin neck pickup > ISP Decimator Noise Reduction pedal > Dunlop Original Crybaby on or off > Philosopher's Tone (grit off, sustain at 1:30, blend at 1:30, treble at 3:00, volume at about 1:00) > amp; 2) Sweet distortion: Godin blended pickups > Decimator > Philosopher's Tone (grit 1:30, sustain 1:30, blend 1:30, treble on full, volume 1:00) > amp; 3) Sustained overdrive: Godin bridge pickup > Decimator > Philosopher's Tone (set same as per 1, but with the blend lowered to noon or so) > Ibanez TS9/808 mod Tube Screamer > amp, maybe with some flanger dialed in; 4) Fingerstyle country blues: Godin blended pickups > Decimator > Philosopher's Tone (grit off, sustain & blend at 10:30, treble at 3:00, volume at 1:00) > Boss OC-3 Octave pedal on a slight, subtle polyphonic setting (to imitate a washtub bass!). Some slap delay might sound good here too. The reason I use the Decimator is that my guitar's P90 pickups are very noisy, and the P-Tone accentuates this noise unbearably at volumes high enough for jamming. Thus, if your guitar has single coil pickups, I highly recommend the use of the ISP Decimator Noise Reduction pedal (expensive but well worth it) at the front of your signal chain in combination with the P-Tone. If your guitar has humbuckers instead, this should not be necessary. Alternatively, you could try a different Compressor for a single coil guitar, one with a more selective set of parameters, but I don't know if that would work and I can't imagine any other Compressor pedal working as well for me anyway. I love it. I don't try to sound like anybody else, but I imagine the high-sustain screams of Carlos Santana, Trey Anastasio or Jon Trafton would be easy to approach with this device. // 10

Reliability & Durability: I have not tried to gig with it yet, but it seems very sturdy so I doubt I would need a backup. It's all metal and there is no battery compartment to open. You'll need a 12-18 V power source. My suspicion is that I will want to continually tweak the parameters according to the room I'm in or the song I'm playing, so I would mount it on a rack at about eye level rather than have it on the floor. // 10

Overall Impression: I play spacey, jazzy, multi-ethnic jam rock with a strong blues influence, and the Philosopher's Tone is my central, main pedal. I don't always have it on, but I frequently use it for soloing. I have been playing about 20 years, and this is my favorite pedal. However, if I lost it I would probably upgrade to the Pigtronix Philosopher King if I could afford it, simply because the P-King does everything the P-Tone can do and a lot more. My other choice when shopping for a comp pedal was the Keeley Compressor, an obviously excellent piece of equipment at any price. I judged the Keeley to be out of my price range at the time, and now I'm glad I thought so, because I love the Pig! I suppose it could benefit from the Keeley's sensitivity and more tweakable parameters, but I doubt I would need any of that. It is the perfect addition to my guitar's tone. // 10

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