Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Sound Floating in Your Head

The one pedal that is floating around out there more than others is? You guessed it, the overdriver. Tons of cats spend numerous hours tweaking, modifying, and even cloning old favorites. To be honest most of the time it's hard to really separate these pedals from each other, I mean yes some are brighter, some darker, others full, and some thin. But when it comes to really making an impact and delivering something that stands out from all rest it can be difficult. Then there's the dreamers, the cats that walk around out there with that one sound in their head, that tone that is special to them for whatever reason. These end up being the pedals that become standards in the industry and timeless classics. My buddy Keith from Machine Head Pedals is one of these cats, taking stompboxes to the next level and bringing us tones we can incorporate into our signature sounds. A true tone artist.

Machine Head Pedals
72 Degrees

My dear friends I'd like to introduce you to the 72° overdrive pedal. It sports a Level, Drive, and Tone knob. Simple enough right? I will be completely honest with you all, when I first received the 72° I didn't think much of it. I had seen so many overdrivers that just didn't cut it, overdrivers that sounded like or exactly like so many of the pedals out there there today. Then I plugged it in, and it was like a breath of fresh air. The perfect amount of grit and compression. I then got the name of the pedal, 72°, the perfect temperature for any day. I had to hand it to Keith, for the first time in a long time here was an overdrive pedal that not only sounded like it's own but also delivered everything that makes the "greats" great. These are the most exciting kind of stompboxes, the ones that surprise and knock us on our asses. Cats that have been around long enough to workout great tones for themselves will absolutely dig this pedal. It sounds like a great tube amp that was taken and dialed in for sweet vintage rock tones. The first guitar we threw at this baby was my rhythm guitar players vintage Strat. The amp of choice of course was a Fender set to clean. I matched the 72° Degrees Level knob to the amp's volume, flipped the knob to noon, and set the Drive at zero. The outcome was a hint of clear, crisp, and defined overdrive, the kind of overdrive that you need to dig into to get it to really yelp. Slowly we added the Drive and this is where this baby really began to sing. When we pumped the Drive to full we started getting those killer old school fuzzy, compressed overdrive tones that make a player want to cry out in solos. Throttling back on the pedal's Tone knob made for some really sweet rhythm guitar tones, tones that would work perfectly for recording. This is a great pedal for pairing up with any single coil guitar. Next in line was my semi-hollowbody, a Hagstrom Viking with Skatterbrane humbuckers. I started out again at low Drive settings. The sound of the 72° through this guitar produced some of the best woman tones I have ever heard come from a stompbox. Awesome for both lead and chord work, Clapton would be proud. That's how I can tell a great overdrive pedal, when it brings into mind a killer player or awesome band. Like any great overdriver the 72° also works great with your guitar's volume and tone knob. Something I had to do while still plugged into the semi-hollowbody was set a booster pedal in front of the 72°, this is a test I like to do with overdrive pedals when playing through humbuckers. I like to see how far I can push it before things get annoying. But again surprisingly enough the tones stayed usable. The final test was playing the pedal though my Tele, a custom job I modded out throughout the last few months. This is the guitar I use for most everything, it sports a humbucker in the neck, single coil in the bridge, and a push/pull knob for a wider selection of tones. I wanted to work the pedal's Tone knob knob here so this is what we did. I began by recording some tracks with the Tone all the way down. Then I layered that track with the Tone set at noon, and last I recorded some lead work with the Tone at full blast. Beautiful! This is how I can always tell how well a overdrive pedal will work for live situations, because rooms change and you always want to be able to fit in a sound that will work for you, no matter where you need to set the pedal's tone. I'll tell you something, I have never played a pedal that takes so well to so many different guitars, stunning! Last I'll say this about the Machine Head Pedals. If you're looking for something with that great golden era rock sound, this is your stop. I believe Keith will certainly be one of those cats that will continue to knock out great pedals, it comes natural to can hear it in his work.

For more info on Machine Head Pedals go to or click the logo in our links. Stay tuned for next month when we'll be feature another of Keith's amazing pedals, we'll be interviewing this stompbox genius. Can you dig it!!!?

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