Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Mar: Monthly Pick / Backbeat Electric

We've had some awesome luck here at AWC hunting down and discovering a ton of killer sounding tone tools. Our first year saw many innovative, revolutionary, and one-of-a-kind music gadgets. Along with the pedal boom also came many many builders producing their take on vintage voiced effects pedals. If there's one thing we can never go wrong on it's a great classic rock sounding fuzz box, overdriver, or distortion pedal. One of the golden finds for us this last year and what we've chosen as our March Monthly Pick is Backbeat Electric. A German handmade effects pedal company with a collection of mind blowing stompboxes that are more than capable of delivering a rockin' good time. The focus of the Backbeat Electric team does seem to be on the vintage vibe side of things, which they have masterfully recreated, but it doesn't end there. You will find yourself easily capable of dialing in both classic and modern rock tones with these pedals, and at the same time find yourself in a sea of high quality dirt tones. With the touch of class and style that Backbeat Electric has thrown into the mix, you will also find yourself owning one of the coolest looking stompboxes to land your pedalboard.


Backbeat Electric


* Anti-Slide Bottom Plate
* Heavy-Duty Aluminum Case
* Stained Fireland Cherry Tree Side Walls
* 9v DC Jack w/Battery Off Switch
* Sliding Drawer 9v Battery Compartment
* Handbuilt in Germany
* High Quality Components
* True Bypass Circuit


Ladies and gents, let me introduce you to the mighty mighty X-Bender from Backbeat Electric. This three knob, user friendly, and built to last stompbox was capable of some of the loveliest rock tones I've ever had the pleasure of rocking out to. The X-Bender's control layout is simple, Volume, Tone, and Sustain. There are In and Out jacks, a true bypass switch, and it can run off of it's 9v DC jack or a single 9v battery. It's anti-slide bottom plate keeps the pedal in it's place, a sliding battery compartment makes swapping 9 volts easy as pie, and when using the 9v DC jack an On/Off battery switch saves your battery power. The X-Bender is built with high quality components and it sports true bypass switching. You all know I am a huge fan of the fuzz pedal world and can never get enough of these bad boys. I am also tuff on a lot of the madness that is out there trying to call itself authentic fuzz. I'll tell you one think, the X-Bender easily makes the cut. This is a pedal built for one thing and one thing only... Sweet awesome epic fuzz tones!

For this pedal demo I pulled out an array of different amps and guitars. This is something I always like to do whenever coming across an awesome and versatile fuzz box. I plugged in low watt amps, mid watt amps, and of course the mean high gain amps. Through each of these amps I was able to pull great sounding rhythm, lead, and experimental fuzz tones. The three guitars that did the job for this session were my dear sweet Erica, Lady, and Solo (aka Hagstrom Viking, Custom Tele, and Junior copy). I paired the X-Bender up with a handful of my favorite effect pedals, ran it with some boosters for extra juice, and also played some gigs with it. In all of these applications the X-Bender came through like a true champion. I'll start with my low watt 15/7 watt head and 1x12 cab. I plugged in the semi-hollow body Hagstrom Viking, set the amp to 15 watts, and dialed in as clean a tone as possible. I matched the X-Bender's output to the amp's, set the tone a bit bright to balance out the amp's warmth, and last dialed in about 15% of the sustain/fuzz effect. The perfect rhythm guitar tone came screaming from my little amplifier. I had great tight lows, chunky mids, and just the right amount of highs. The fuzz effect of the X-Bender was thick, raspy, but focused and full of definition. Everything from simple to complex chords sounded great, riffs to quick lead runs, and light bluesy'n'jazzy playing. By rolling down some of the guitar's tone and switching to the neck humbucker I was able to get an even smoother and rounder rock tone. It was somewhere between a light blues tone and a woman tone. Next I pushed the X-Bender's sustain knob up to about 50%, rolled down the tone, and cranked the volume to help bring the tube amp into a bit of natural aggression. I was stunned at how well the fuzz sound stayed intact and how much control I still had over my notes. With some fuzz pedals when you start to turn things up you also start to loose a bit of what you naturally hold in your hands. This was not the case with this bad boy. Even in the highest of fuzz settings was I able to do my thing and let my playing do the talking. Not once did my playing get lost in a sea of fizzy madness. Just for kicks I dropped the amp wattage from 15 to 7 watts. I was surprised at how giant a fuzz tone came from the 1x12 cab. I was able to setup great sounding bedroom levels, recording levels and small gig settings. In fact this was the setup I used when I gigged the X-Bender. The next amp to see some of the X-Bender's fury was my modified Hot Rod Deville, dialed in to a big'n'beautiful clean tone with lots of lows, mids, and a perfect amount of highs. The guitar of choice for this amp was the neck bucker custom Tele. The X-Bender was able to turn the Hot Rod's clean tone into a screaming/howling fuzz. In low fuzz settings with the Tele's neck humbucker and some of the guitar's tone shaved off, I got these great distortion/fuzz sounds that rumbled the 4x10 Deville into a hard rock rhythm machine. To blow into a banshee lead tone all I had to do was turn the sustain knob up, flip the tone knob back to unity, and kick into the lead Tele's bridge pickup. Then to get an even more intense fuzz sound I paired the X-Bender up with a great sounding clean booster. Both pedals played well with each other and complimented one another's strong points. The X-Bender was proving to be another well rounded, great sounding fuzz box. Finally I pushed the X-Bender through my 100 watt Super Lead and single P90 Junior copy. The thick but loose feel of the P90 combined with the natural overdrive of the Super Lead worked beautifully! The fuzz and distortion sounds I was able to get from this setup was completely different from the rest. I was able to pull out more of a midrange focus, and looser highs and lows. I also found that rolling the amp back into a mellower, semi-clean tone worked very very nicely. This was by far one of the best tones I got throughout the entire demo. It sounded like an epic stadium rock tone. Before putting this amp away I had to do one thing... Pull out the Strat and a great sounding vibe pedal. And what tones do you think I went for here? That's right, Hendrix and Trower tones. I'm not saying it was an easy thing to do, but it was certainly much easier having a rockin' tube amp, a killer guitar, a sweet vibe, and a epic sounding fuzz box. I dialed in a medium amount of fuzz from the X-Bender, pushed it through a smooth low distortion, then dialed in my vibe to a great all-around tone. I was in killer tone heaven! The combo of everything engaged created pure tonal bliss. Some gear can't be used like this, once you start to pair things up you notice certain tones eating away at others. I was stoked to discover this was not an issue with the X-Bender when pairing it up with multiple gadgets. Last was the couple gigs I played with this pedal. For this I took my small 15/7 head and a 2x10 cab. I'm always big on taking low watt amps and pushing them to sound stronger than they appear. This was exactly what I was able to do with the X-Bender. Once mic'd, the sound that came out of the PA was gigantic. No one would have ever known I was pushing 7 watts through a 2x10 cab. In the end the X-Bender worked great for just about everything. I was able to get both modern and vintage fuzz tones, subtle and extreme sounds, and everything in between. I highly recommend anyone looking for a versatile and powerful fuzz box to look into the Backbeat Electric pedal line. I've said it before and I'll say it again. The last year or so has been one awesome ride of sweet and killer effects and gear. Backbeat Electric's X-Bender easily falls into this category.


For more info on Backbeat-Electric go to or click the direct link in our sidebar. Backbeat Electric offers a wide range of awesome sounding fuzz that you're sure to fall in love with. Make sure and stay tuned for more from this super hip company. Peace!

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