Tonebone Classic review by Radial

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  • Sound: 10
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Ease of Use: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 9 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.2 (11 votes)
Radial: Tonebone Classic

Price paid: $ 214

Sound — 10
This pedal was created supposedly to emulate classic American Fender-style amps, and it's sister the Hot British for Marshall style British gain. Yet all the smooth Marshall-style distortion is present in the Classic in spades, along with the equally famous rectifier crunch, and it also emulates an overdriven bassman very nicely, espeically on the low to mid gain settings. I'm using it with a Fender American Strat, Vox wah, Ibanez TS9DX Flexi mod, Boss DD6 and some others into several amps, a crappy Peavey Blazer 158 at home, and various Fender, Orange, Marshall and Vox amps elsewhere. It sound brilliant with my strat, really fattening it up with gobs of thick organic sounding gain. With a Les Paul, it provides amazing smooth Overdrive that screams classic rock and blues rock. And, with my TS as a gain boost, this provides almost epic sustain for massive chording and screaming solos. The tube really does it's job, warming up the tone nicely. It sounds smooth in Overdrive and can reach high saturation. It is not the perfect pedal for Death Metal, but for anything else, be it blues to classic or hard rock, it sounds fantastic. From Pink Floyd to Led Zeppelin to Red Hot Chili Peppers to Stevie Ray and even to Eric Johnsen style violin sustain, it can all be found. It's got a wide range of sounds to suit all applications and anyone should be able to locate several (not just one or two) tones that they will use often.

Overall Impression — 9
I play rock of all sorts, blues, funk, worship, and experiment also here and there. This pedal is a fantastic match by virtue of the versatility and smooth Drive tone alone. I've been playing for about three years and literally looked around for six months, trying everything from tubezones to fulldrives to cruncboxes, RATs to OCDs to JnHs. I won't say the other pedals are crap cause they aren't, and I won't say that this pedal owns them all, cause that's subjective. I will say that to my ears, this pedal has more versatility as both an Overdrive and distrotion, and provides an incredibly smooth yet ballsy hi-gain Overdrive tone tone to die for. Minor niggles aside, I would not hesitate to recommend this pedal to anyone. The price is slightly high, but that's the case for all other pedals in it's class (most tube-driven pedals cost almost twice as much). it is worth the money. If it were lost, I would probably buy another unless some other pedal succeeds in compelling me to do otherwise (none has come close so far)

Reliability & Durability — 9
I have only owned it for a few days and haven't yet ggged it, only using it to jam and practice. It feels like a little tank that could withstand endless brutality, yet I won't say too much as I haven't had it for long. As a caveat, I have heard several people complain about the suspect reliability of the footswitch. It hasn't happened to me yet, but I will definitely ensure I step lightly on it. Just in case.

Ease of Use — 8
This pedal is very self-explanatory in layout. Every switch is clearly labelled and this pedal is definitely idiot proof. Having said that, the sheer range of options grants great tonal flexibility, and thus a large range of sounds. This is not a set and forget pedal. It deserves to be tweaked and experimented with. Unlike what some other reviews say, it is possible to get a bad sound, but those are few and far between, the majority of tones on this pedal sounding excellent. A great starting point would be the sample settings on the tonebone website. The "Water Smoke" setting being a favorite of mine. There are only two irritations though. It requires the use of a 15V adapter (provided). That seems like a weird and inconvenient amount given that I cannot find another pedal with the same requirements. Sorry guys, no one spots for this guy. I have to use the adapter alongside my power supply, just for this pedal. Secondly, other overdrives placed after the tonebone (except clean solo boosts) tend to be slightly compromised. Perhaps it is the power of the tube, I don't know. So do avoid using it as a gain boost. Because of the tone I'm not complaining but these are definitely a minor niggle.

6 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Nice review. There are a lot of pedals out there that do the same thing... I know that there is another distortion pedal by these guys that might give a little more gain for metal, and I wish someone would review it >.< Hope your pedal gives you everything you need!
    To be honest I don't think it's supposed to take you to death metal distortion - that's completely up to the amp (If you want a genuine tube distortion that is, than It should just boost the amp --- good heavy distortion) From the reviews that I checked out this thing is well worth the money. Mos Def gonna check it out !
    Uncle Manwich
    Radial makes fine products, nothing but great experiences with them. In fact, selling my Radial Tonebone Hot British might just be one of my greatest regrets. Great review!