Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Spirit of Rock & Roll

Why is it that we in the music world see so many rebuilds and spin-offs of gear from 50's, 60's, and 70's? With many other tools, designs, and practices, people move on and never look back. Take the television for instance. Not one person by choice would ever choose an ancient, black & white, dinosaur tv model over a sparkling clear HD flat screen right? I don't even think I've seen a black & white television set in over 20 years. But when it comes to classic music equipment it's an entirely different story. I regularly find myself in recording studios flooded with a variety of vintage amps, pedals, guitars, compressors, preamps, mics, mixing boards, and recording machines. I think to myself "Wow! When a good thing's a good thing, it really is a good thing." This is where companies like InVicta Musical Instruments step up to the plate, bringing you gear built to the same specs as the gear that rode the wings of the golden era. This is how the spirit of Rock & Roll lives on, why we can dial-in tones that make the goosebumps rise, and why we can be confident to let it all hang out.

InVicta Musical Instruments
N. Plainfield, NJ

Top Box

* Point to Point Wiring
* Mullard Germanium OC44's
* Sprague/Vishay Capacitors
* Allen Bradley Carbon Comp Resistors (Metal Film Option)
* Solid Core Cloth Covered Wire
* Switchcraft Jacks
* Carling Switches
* True Bypass
* Alpha Pots
* Negative Ground (Positive Ground Option)
* Solid Aluminum Case
* Hammered Finish
* 9V Battery or 9Vdc Adapter
* Handbuilt in the USA


Holding a piece of gear this lovely is always truly an honor and an absolute gift. Getting to run it through it paces? Even better! I will tell you guys straight from the heart the InVicta Top Box is by far one of the coolest and best sounding pedals to ever land in my hands. The guitar tones I was able to pull from this pedal left me flabbergasted, sick with excitement, and hungry for more. For those of you not hip on treble boosters pay close attention, this just may be that little secret weapon you've been looking for. So what is a "treble booster" you ask, and does it boost the treble signal in your sound? No, not exactly. A proper, skillfully built, high quality treble booster (like this here Top Box) is capable of slamming the front end of your amp into a full, rich, complex symphony of luscious harmonics, overtones, and dynamics. Just look at what early treble booster designs like the Dallas Rangemaster were capable of doing for rock music's golden era and you'll know just what kind of sounds are possible with these boxes. Like vintage treble booster units the InVicta Top Box consists of a simple/no-frills design and layout, but there is a difference with this unit, a difference that spells QUALITY. The Top Box sports an on/off footswitch, boost control, in/out jacks, LED indicator, and can be run off of either a single 9V battery or 9V adapter. Inside your Top Box you will not find any PCB boards, cheap silicon transistors, or anything else that will degrade your root tone. The cats at InVicta handbuild these beauties one at a time, with the highest quality components, then test each unit for the ultimate experience in holy grail tone hunting. Hallelujah!!!

I don't even know what else to say about this pedal. Getting a killer tone was as easy as grabbing a pair of sweet sounding cables, a proper axe, and joining everything with a nice sounding tube amp. Just imagine that bold'n'lovely amp tone that you've worked on for god knows how long, and being able to take it into smashing, tube breaking wall of thick grit and smoothness. This was my experience with the Top Box and one that I was capable of attaining with every guitar I plugged into it. I'll speak on a few of my favorite amp and guitar combos that really had things cooking with this silver magic box. First there was my custom Strat build and 15/7 watt amp head. I ran this setup through a 1x12 cab, and connected everything with a couple of Bullet Cables. I started with the Top Box alone, no other pedals, effects, or toys. I dialed in as clean a tone as possible, and drew in lots of bass and midrange thump. I let the Strat do it's thing in it's neck pickup first and got a classic, spot-on Stratocaster spank. I set the pedal up to about noon and let her rip. The bounce and playfulness in the single coil's sound matched up perfectly with the aggression and richness of the Top Box. The pedal took the amp's 15 watts and brutalized them into a massive, epic sounding wall of grit and growl. The reaction of the grit's projection is something that instantly had me hooked. If you're of the dynamic type (like I am) you will love this pedal to all hell. Subtle touching of the strings, and slight brushing of my pick produced chimey, bright but warm semi-clean guitar tones. The more I dug, the more I found. Meaning the more I wanted, the more I got! What more could one want? I can remember in this setting alone I was able to knock out more guitar tones than one would believe possible. The Top Box is extremely sensitive to your guitar's volume pot and will adjust it's character to whichever level you have it set to. I was able to get these beefy and round Kieth Richard tones, and with a Strat no less! All I did to make this happen was roll down some of the guitar's tone, boost the amp's treble/bass/mids to 8, and volume up to about 75%. Again not expecting it I got stuck dishing out more guitar sounds than I knew what to do with. Cranking the Top Box's boost up passed noon is where the stretchy, creamy sustain started coming into play. I could feel the inspiration and desire to want to play come rushing through my fingers. I can see how and why cats like Clapton, Bolan, Iommi, Blackmore, and May loved to push their setups with these awesome little boxes. Single coil pickups have this special way of clinging onto a treble boosters sound that makes for absolute magic and mystery. And it doesn't end there, no no it doesn't. I also plugged in my semi-hollow body Hagstrom, and a friend's Jazzmaster which I had just done a setup on. The semi-hollow body's woody, organic tone worked great with the Top Box. I could feel this sting and attack in the guitar's humbuckers that wasn't present in the Strat single coils. This is always a great sign when testing out and demoing a pedal. I love a pedal capable of producing more than one sweet spot or sound. The humbuckers through the low watt amp did have things breaking up a bit quicker so I switched from the little head to my modified Hot Rod Deville. The 4x10's were the perfect touch for attaining big lows, tight mids, and defined highs. Setting the Deville to it's clean channel (I never do use the dirt channel on that amp) with every control at 6, except for the reverb which I set at 2-3, was capable of giving me one of the most stunning honky/throaty midrange dirt tones I have ever heard. Some cats aren't big on lots of mids coming through their signal. I on the other hand know how to manipulate and mold a strong midrange sound to make it work in whatever way I want it to. The Top Box made spitting licks out just as I imagined them a total walk in the park. Since getting the Deville's tubes to get you a dirty tone on their own is damn near impossible without killing your ears, I decided to break out one of my favorite overtdrive pedals. I am very hard on overdrivers that suck even a bit of your root tone so I made sure I plugged in something that wouldn't get in the way and work with the Top Box instead of against it. With the overdrive pedal second in the chain the Top Box was able to do some real sweet sounding tricks. I got no ugly unwanted noise, and was able to push my amp into the exact overdrive tone I wanted. Lead tones were like nothing I had heard. The only other place I ever really hear lead tones come out sounding so brilliant, focused, and balanced is in the studio. for those of you who gig you know how much of a pain it can be to get that epic but sweet sounding lead tone from your rig. Most of the time because of acoustics of the space your playing in you end up with a square signaled, sharp and choppy lead tone that cuts way too much and bites like a shark. The Top Box may just be the perfect tool for this problem. Something about the way this pedal blends all it's sounds (highs, lows, and mids) really keeps things in check and righ how you want them. The single boost knob on this pedal makes dialing in your tones a cinch, and keeps things moving along quickly and on point. This is definitely one of those tools for you "instant gratification" cats. Vintage units these days can cost an arm and a leg, and you don't always know if you're gonna get a good sounding gadget. Invicta Musical Instruments builds these pedals and all their gear at a level that is rarely seen anymore. It is so easy for cats to jump on the "boutique" music gear wagon these days, but let me say this; Just cause you build a handful of pretty painted boxes in your backyard garage does not mean you're producing top notch gear. Like I said earlier, I feel honored to have had the chance to put one of InVicta's products through their paces and hope to have the shot at sharing more of this awesome gear with you guys in the near future. There is absolutely no way you can go wrong with the InVicta Top Box, take it from a cat who makes it his mission to hunt out the best of the best. Keep'em coming guys, we're here to rock and roll all the gear you have.


For more info on InVicta Musical Instruments go to www.invictainstruments.com You can read up on more cool info on all their gear and get an even closer insight on just how they go about building their magnificent products. InVicta also has quite the talent for building some killer amps, and can restore any classic/vintage amplifier you may have sitting around your house. We will keep you guys up to date on more from these cats in the near future so keep them eyes peeled.

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