Price paid: A$ 250
Purchased from: Cranbourne Music
Ease of Use: The Ulbrick Phataxe is a handbuilt boutique true-bypass OD pedal. Ulbrick, based in Australia, are a very reputable company when it comes to building quality guitar amps and effects with minimal compromise.
It is very easy to get a good sound out of this pedal, it is a very transparent OD; it will respond to different guitars and amps. So I guess in order to maximize its 'soundingoodedness', its best to play it through some reasonably quality gear.
There's no manual, its 3 knobs (Vol, Gain, Tone), very typical of OD pedals, and the Phataxe is a higher gain version of the Ulbrick 12Axe Overdrive. // 9
Sound: I use it with either a US Strat HSS or a MIJ 62 RI Telecaster; either of these guitars plugged into an Orange AD30TC. As I stated before it is very transparent, similar to a TS-808, but not as 'loose' with less highs. This pedal easily cuts through when I use it in rehearsal or live; more so than the AD30 gain. It is different enough from the amps natural gain to add an extra dimension to my tonal possibilities.
This pedal tends to work well for me when playing stuff like AC/DC or Pink Floyd, and then also for stuff like Mineral or Penfold. Although its a higher gain version of the 12Axe, I would still rate it in the medium to low scale for gain available. It's probably worth noting that on a tube amp as you increase volume gain will also increase.
When used as a boost its great for tightening up a sound and adding some extra punch and grit. // 9
Reliability & Durability: The first unit I got was faulty and I returned it without issue. I have had 0 problems with the second one. Its housed in a metal case and is handmade with quality components.
I have used it in 5-6 gigs and it has worked flawlessly every time. It has a bright blue LED so its very easy to see if you have it engaged. // 10
Overall Impression: Its a great pedal if you are looking for some overdrive. Its not terribly high gain, and it retains the nuances of your amp and guitar whilst retaining a character of its own.
I used to run this and a TS-808 and eventually sold the TS as I would rarely use it. The only issue I see is that if it is the high gain version I'm glad I got this one. I wouldn't mind a little more dirt with this pedal actually. // 9