Here's another killer boutique pedal I've been keeping my eye on for quite some time, SPF, also known as Smart People Factory. I now can't remember exactly who it was or how I came across these cats but that doesn't matter, what's important is that I came across them. Even better is that SPF turned out to be one of the baddest little pedal companies to ever land on my doorstep. I always get such a kick out of visiting the SPF website, designed to look as if someone sketched it out with a pencil. Besides a few photos of the pedals there's no eye candy to reel you in, just the bear facts, some review links, sound clips, and info on each pedal. This tells me one thing, that these cats put all their energy into the builds and not the hype. When you get your hands on one of the SPF pedals you'll know what I'm talking about, no frills pedals with the ability to get the job done, period! SPF has become one of my bands' secret weapons and personal favorites. I highly implore you to do some further investigating and get your hands on some of these pedals. Come jump in to one of the boutique world's best kept secrets.
Smart People Factory
*Drive: Controls your level of distortion
*Tone: Shapes your tonal flavor
*Volume: Controls overall output of pedal
*Modern/Vintage Switch: Changes between "TS" style and modern grit voicing
*Mud Switch: Changes frequency response/Adds more bass
The mighty overdriver. It is the one pedal most us players use to start building our tones, sounds, and voice. Ever since the guitar pedal first stuck it's head out the overdriver has been the one pedal we have always been able to rely on, the go-to box we use to quickly and simply push our tone into gritty heaven. There have been many greats in our time but the one overdrive pedal that has always stood out from the rest is the JRC4558D or 4558 op-amp based overdrive pedal, otherwise known as the TS-808. There have been many clones, what some say are originals, and many off-the wall versions of the TS-808. Why? Because it works and has always sounded great! Well SPF has taken the roots of this all-time favorite to create one of the most versatile JRC4558D based overdrive pedals to ever hit the streets. It's called the Green Line, and not only is it capable of some killer sounding classic overdrive sounds but it can also take you into an entirely new flavor of grit that your amp will just love eating up. Straight from the get-go the one thing that jumped out at me was how smooth'n'creamy the Green Line's overdrive sounded, it instantly gave my tone a layer of grit that was easy to play and control. This pedal works as the perfect building block tool for achieving your ultimate sound. I plugged into my trusty modified 4x10 Deville set to a clean sound first, and set the Green Line to it's Vintage mode. Through the entire pedal's Tone knob range I noticed that the sound stayed in that vintage vibe. Some pedals you turn up to the tone and things get a bit sharp and jagged, which eats away at that classic tone. This let me know exactly what the pedal was capable of, that it was straight no fills and built to work with my playing. I jammed through an array of chords and all of the Green Line's characteristics came shining through clearly and smoothly. The chords came out of amp balanced, defined, and best of all tight. This is where I get sold on a overdrive pedal, it has to be able to handle chords neatly and clear. The overdrive wasn't overpowering either, I could still hear, and more importantly feel my key tone come flowing from my amp. All my lows, mids, and highs were still present, the pedal's voice was there, and my hands were able to control the tone 100%. Definitely one of the most transparent overdrive pedals I have ever played. Like many traditional OD pedals the Green Line sports the trio controls of Drive, Tone, and Volume. The Tone knob is not of the extreme variety, it throws in and out exactly what you need, something you will feel in your playing more than hear. The Drive knob adds the perfect amount of dirt for both the Vintage and Modern mode. Through humbuckers the sound is rich, thick, and defined. I was able to get these great semi-clean/crunchy sounds that I was able to manipulate very easily with my pick attack. To get more in-your-face tones all I had to do was switch to single coils, roll up a bit more Drive, and even out the Tone. The sound was off-the-hook! I got the sweetest Texas blues tone ever, a sound Stevie Ray would've been proud of. Here's where the real magic kicked in, the Green Line's Mud switch. The Mud switch is perfect for beefing up single coil pickups, adding a boost of lows to your sound, and giving size to any thin sounding amplifier. Through humbuckers I was also able to get a great woman tone by flipping the Mud switch, setting the Green Line to Vintage, setting the Tone full blast, and rolling my guitar's tone back all the way. In the Vintage mode alone this is a pedal capable of a lot, playing it through different guitars gets you even more. I played the Green Lone through a Strat, Tele, Junior, semi-hollow body, and triple mini-humbucker equipped guitar. Through each of these guitar the pedal sounded killer and got me just about every classic rock tone out there. Now for the pedal's Modern mode, a much more aggressive taste of the Green Line's abilities. For this I plugged the pedal into a Marshall head and cab, set everything straight up the middle, and set the pedal the same. In the Modern mode you can push your amp pretty far with just the Volume knob alone, without the Drive set too high. As I did turn up the Drive knob I could hear the distortion getting bigger and richer. The distortion doesn't take away from the root sound though, even in some of the highest Drive settings I was able to feel my root tone. It's funny I keep coming back to the word "feel", but that is the best way to describe the Green Line. Like the feeling you get from the grit of a great sounding tube amp, it's a sound that's difficult to put into words. It's that boom you feel hit you in the back when you're rocking out on stage. The Green Line is capable of creating some of the most organic overdrive and distortion tones I've ever heard come out of a stompbox. This is a pedal you will find easily to dial-in, and because of it's organic feel it makes it easy to match whichever amp you're playing through. You can get authentic classic and milder TS-808 type tones, take it into an full blast lead tone, and set it to everything in between. The Green Line has become one of Analog War Cry's treasure finds. We have seen many OD pedals come through here this year, me personally, and this is definitely one that stands out as a great. Besides the killer sounding pedals that SPF produces there is also a hip vibe to their outfit that will make their pedals hunted objects. Seek them out brothers and sisters, and help support those helping us rock just the way we want to.
For more info on Smart People Factory pedals go to www.smartpeoplefactory.com You will find great sound bites, layouts, and cool artwork of their stompboxes. We'll try and get some more SPF pedals to review so stay tunes please.