Friday, July 2, 2010

Not Your Average Little Box

Ladies and gents, I would like to start this month off by introducing you to one of the most exquisite pedal building machines I have ever come across. The name is Eckermeister Effects, and their pedals are to-die-for! Eckermeister is the brainchild of one Carsten Eckermann from Cologne, Germany, and like many of the discoveries made here on Analog War Cry Eckermeister also falls upon the independent/one-man operation category. After my discovery of the Eckermeister website it didn't take long to get my G.A.S. (gear acquisition syndrome) flowing into full force. There is passion behind the design of these stompboxes that screams a love for tone and musical gear. And it is exactly this type of passion that always wields something wonderful. Besides building high quality stompboxes Carsten also runs a backline rental service which offers some of the most desirable vintage gear known to man. What better way to build a fine-tuned ear for great tone right? Some of Eckermeister's clients include The Shins, Andrew Bird, I'm From Barcelona, Chuck Prophet, James McMurty, and the list goes on. If your thing is high quality, classy, great sounding, superbly built effect pedals this is your stop. Or if you or your band ever finds itself in Germany and is in need of some cream-of-the-crop gear for a gig or session, make sure to check out Eckermeister. It is quite obvious Carsten Eckermann breathes, bleeds, and lives knowledge for great sounding gear... his pedals were the proof in the pudding.


Carsten Overdrive


Supply voltage: 12VAC on barrel-type connector 5.5x2.1mm
Max. current: arr. 30mA
Input impedance: 1Megohm
Recommended load at output: 50 kOhm or greater
Gain: arr. 48 dB
Maximum output level: +10 dBm
Switching mode: true-bypass
Dimensions (without powersupply) : 147x106x70 mm


The sound of one's finely tuned tube amp taken to a naturally screaming dirt tone is something that can very seldom be compared to anything else. It is the tube amp that has been responsible for most of the signature rock tones that can be heard on most of our favorite records. It also the tube amp that we seek out when on the hunt for a killer overdriven or distortion tone, whether it be in the studio or on the stage. But it need not end here, there are certainly more options than this when it comes to rockin' good tone. More times than not these options come in the form of deliciously built stompboxes. It this reason why effect pedals have become such a crucial part of our root tones, rigs, and overall sound. Look on any level of player's setups and you'll be sure to find a rainbow of fantastic sounding boxes.

I found the Eckermeister Carsten Overdrive not only capable of recreating some of my favorite tube amp tones, but also capable of delivering some tones all it's own. This pedal's layout is simple, familiar, and straight to the point. This makes this a very desirable stompbox and a wonderful go-to tone tool for any application. The Carsten Overdrive consists of Volume-Honey-and Gain controls. Each one of these controls are extremely responsive and very very flexible. The Carsten Overdrive's volume control works beautifully to lightly push your amp into a subtle crunch, and also has enough output to send your amp into a soaring thick'n'creamy distortio. The honey control takes care of the pedal's overall character and feel. With the honey control I was able to match the pedal's character to just about every guitar and amp I ran it through. Last and not least, and probably my favorite control on this pedal, is the gain knob. The Carsten Overdrive's gain control was able to hand me proper tube-like feel in both it's lowest to it's highest dirt settings. The Carsten OD sports true bypass, is handwired, built with high class components and hand selected FET's, and is housed in a custom kickass enclosure. To both the eye and ear I found this pedal to be absolute high class all the way!

My buddy and I started by running the Carsten Overdrive through a couple different amps. We tried both tube and solid state amps, and wattage flavors of all sizes. We played the pedal through humbuckers, different types of single coils, and a couple of different basses. Through all of the setups we matched it up with we got top notch results. The first candidate (and one of the most memorable of the setups) was my partner's 22 watt 65 Deluxe setup sparkling clean, dry (no reverb), with it's tone controls at noon. Guitar of choice was my Hagstrom Viking semi hollow-body. The pedal's volume output was matched up with the amp, the honey control at noon, and gain at around 11'o'clock. This setting got us a perfect semi-clean, 50/50 tone that worked beautifully with all overall playing and picking dynamics. I didn't even need to roll off any of my guitar's volume control to get a spot-on clean tone. By laying off of my picking alone I was able to get the pedal to respond exactly as I wanted, just like a kickass tube amp. The humbuckers created a rich, round, and strong tone. Things got really interesting once we started pushing the Deluxe amp into a medium overdrive then pushing the pedal's huge tone through it. Instead of taking the amp's tone and reshaping it (which many dirt pedals do), the Carsten OD took the existing sound and enhanced it into a bigger, brighter, and all around lovelier tone. Even when I slammed the pedal's gain control into an epic lead I was still able to maintain the overall feel of the amp's cooked tubes. For you cats in the blues scene I cannot suggest a better overdrive pedal. I was able to dial in these great universal grit tones that sounded great with rhythms, leads, and riffing. By taking the gain to 100%, rolling off the honey control, and using the volume knob to help push my amp a little bit, I created one of the sweetest woman tones I have ever heard. The string articulation and definition of my notes could not have been better. Before we put the Deluxe away we pushed it to it's limits, getting a huge and great sounding natural tube grit. Then we rolling the amp back to a sparkling clean tone and ran the pedal's dirt signal through trying to match what the amp had created. Almost in an instant were we able to recreate the Deluxe's tube grit by setting up the Carsten OD just right. Then there was stacking up the Carsten Overdrive with other boosters and fuzz boxes which also sounded great. This I must say, is definitely a pedal that plays well with others. A clean booster before this pedal through a slightly overdriven amp worked wonders for a family of well rounded guitar tones. By leaving the Carsten on, using my picking dynamics and guitar's volume to mellow out my sound, and using the clean booster to push me into a screaming lead, I was able to get just about every guitar tone I wanted. For gigging there could be no better pedal! Next we paired up the Carsten OD with a high watt plexi style amp, switched to single coils, and through some fuzz boxes into mix. Here we were able to hit every flavor of classic rock madness, blues rock, and hard rock. Blended with light fuzz box setting dished out these crunchy, honking, fuzz/dist hybrid tone that were really interesting to play with. The single coil pickups created this snarling, barking overdrive tone that cut right through the mix. Now, if you know the sound of an overdriven plexi you know there aren't many tones that can compare to it. Now imagine being able to take that tone and magnifying it by ten fold. Again, matching the amp's overall character to the pedal's was easy. Just a flip of the honey control and I was in. The harmonic content, amount of sustain, and sweet compression that this pedal can deliver will make you want to play play play! For me it is those few pieces of gear that inspire me that push me to create, practice, and play. The Carsten Overdrive works wonders in this area. I was able to work it into studio applications, live situations, and able to pair it up with more than just guitars. Carsten Eckermann really went to town and created something special in this pedal. This is a professional quality stompbox, that produces no-frills, and works with you and your tone to create the best possible sound. I'll tell you what... I would love to see more creations from Eckermeister! For now we will be more than satisfied with the mighty mighty Carsten Overdrive. Go on and check one out!


For more info on Eckermeister go to You can read up on lots more info on the Carsten Overdrive, and the other services that Eckermeister has to offer. We will stay in touch with this cool company and keep you guys up to date if any new products come to the surface.



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