Monday, November 30, 2009

K.S. Aji

K.S.Aji Tone Workshop

A boutique pedal company from Indonesia? That's right. The name is K.S. Aji Tone Workshop and chances are you've probably never heard of this effects pedal company. That is of non-importance though, what is important is this one-man pedal company is out there, and responsible for some really fantastic sounding stompboxes. It was through a fellow blogger that I first discovered K.S. Aji Tone Workshop, a few weeks after this discovery I would try and make contact. Once I got through I was greeted by a friendly and informative builder, his name is Kintoko S. Aji, hence the name of the pedal company. This tells me our pedal boom is doing better than I thought, with all these cats from all over the world getting into the game, means we get a chance to try more and more unique stompboxes. I'm proud to be one of the first to review these awesome pedals and hope you guys are inspired to try them out.


K.S. Aji Tone Workshop


* PT2399-Based Delay Pedal with Burr Brown OPA2134PA Op Amp IC Chip.
* Diecast Aluminum Enclosure.
* True Bypass Switching with 3PDT Footswitch
* Boxed Metal Film Caps, 1% Metal Film Resistors, High Quality Wire.
* Groovy Artwork and Matching Colored LED.
* 9V Battery or (Boss Style) 9VDC Adapter powered.



* Repeat: Controls amount of delay repeats
* Level: Controls overall effect volume level
* Delay: Sets delay time

It's always a blast whenever we get a chance to review a delay pedal, like overdrivers delay pedals are all similar but each one holds a sound of their own. The delay is one of the few effects pedals that has steadily been evolving throughout the years. Compared to the delay pedals of today the first delay units look and function nothing alike. I've run into delay pedals with so many options it's almost insane to even classify them as delay. I guess the two types of delay units most people would say they prefer are the tape delay, and the analog delay pedal. Let's ask ourselves, why is this? It is the warm tone and feel of the analog delay that appeals to us so much, it works with our guitar's tone the best, and gets in the way the least. Ladies and gents I'd like to introduce you to The Echologue, a digital based delay pedal with many of the same characteristics of the analog delay. The advantage here is that you get clarity, definition, and warm analog feel all on one pedal. The Echologue's layout is quite simple, the controls being Repeat, Level, and Delay. It is usually these types of delay unites that always work the best for me, simple, straight to point, and great tone. There wasn't much to it, all we did is plug it into a few of our favorite amps and effects pedals, and we were able to get some amazing sounds from this pedal. First I plugged directly into the Echologue with just a clean tone and a cable. The repeats from this pedal are both clear and warm, the trails disappear smoothly and evenly. You will also notice that the delay effect from this pedal won't color your tone, your base sound is still up-front and present. Even in high repeat settings the delay doesn't become muddy or uneasy, I actually put it up against some of my favorite analog delays and it held it's own. Some digital delay pedals tend to get too sharp and rigged when set to high, they, this makes your tone hard to listen to. It's also hard to get good sounding short delays from digital delay units but this pedal handles it all with no problem. The Echologue keeps everything sweet, balanced, and usable. Once I found some favorite delay settings I plugged it into some dirt boxes and let it fly. The first dirt box to put it through was a Maxon Vintage Overdrive Pro, I set the overdrive to just a hair before it breaks, and set a short delay time on the Echologue. The overdrive stayed true and transparent while the echoes bounced out with just the right amount of effect. Something that really impressed me about this delay pedal was how well it stood side by side as I turned up the overdrive level. Some delay pedals will get lost or become too powerful when played through too much grit, not this baby, sweetness all the way! Next I set the pedal for a U2 (The Edge) sound, you know that "Where the streets have no name" sound. Here is where this pedal really shined, because it's digital all the echoes come through strong and focused, but because of the pedal's analog character the sound also stays fluffy and round. Last I played it through some extreme fuzz pedals to see if it would still come through just as clear as it did through clean settings. Sure enough the Echologue did exactly just that, it was able to sound-off just enough to let the fuzz effect do it's thing. Overall I would say this is a perfect delay pedal for gigging. When playing shows you never know what kind of room you're gonna get, I've played through halls, and clubs that have totally robbed me of my delay sounds. The Eacologue makes it easy to dial-in a great sound and works with you through whatever you put it through. It is one of the most clear, focused, and warm digital delay pedals I have ever had the pleasure of playing. This tells me one thing, if this cat can make a great sounding delay pedal lord knows his overdrive pedals must sound fantastic. Analog War Cry will definitely look into featuring more of K.S. Aji Tone Workshop's effects pedals.

For more info on K.S. Aji Tone Workshop guitar and effects pedals you can go to Make sure to stay in tune for more from this great one-man pedal company.



Saturday, November 28, 2009

Take the Green Line!

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
Green Line

*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 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.



Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"Can I get mine on rye?"

Aaaaaaand we're back with another kickass Way Huge guitar pedal. What can I say, these are pedals that need no introduction. The shear mystique and popularity these stompboxes carry is enough to send anyone diving into their favorite guitar shop for a go at one of them. Back when George Tripp made his first run of these it was the same thing, everyone wanted one and no one could seem to get their hands on one. Well times they have a changed, now we have access to his killer line of pedals. But for how long?

Way Huge Electronics
Fat Sandwich
harmonic saturator

* Volume: produces mucho output for mucho headroom
* Tone: dials in your tonal flavor in cahoots with the Pres & Reso controls
* Distortion: produces a endless roar of dirty greatness
* Presence: shapes your trebles and highs
* Resonance: spanks the bass and lows into place
* Footswitch: see that bright light? hmm what does that mean?

(these controls are for fine tuning to your guitar and amp)

* Curve: works to fine-tune the edges of the 1rst gain stage
* Drive: controls the hair of the 2nd stage of dirt
* Highs: sets the highs in the 2nd stage dirt

By now you must be saying to yourself "That is one monster of a pedal! Ooooh doggie!" Well you're right, and this isn't even the craziest of the bunch. Like all the Way Huge pedals the Fat Sandwich is a unique pedal monster with a control panel slick enough to hand you just about every tone in the book. Harmonic saturator is damn right! This pedal dished out the sweetest brown sounds, women tones, and warm, buttery overdrives you will ever hear. You will notice right off the bat the Fat Sandwich is not designed after anything out there, this is definitely an entirely new class of overdrive pedal. It's unique layout of controls, components, and overall design out this pedal into a category of it's own. With the hundreds it not thousands of overdrive pedals available today the Fat Sandwich is a breath of fresh air. How many times have we gone out hunting for an overdrive pedal only to find something that tops it a few weeks later? I know I'm guilty of that sin. This pedal will not only keep you busy for a long, long time, but push you to want to play, write, and perform. Each of the Fat Sandwich's controls are extremely responsive, sounds great in every setting, and capable of covering everything from classic to modern rock. I must have spent two hours tweaking the Fat Sandwich and was happy with everything that came out of it. As someone who spends their life writing in the studio and always hunting for new tones this is the perfect stompbox. In the studio the pedal delivers quickly and the quality it produces behind a mic is fantastic. I also had a chance to take it along to a gig with me and found it easy to match it to the room I played. I guess the easiest way to learn your way around this pedal is to just jump in and go for it, which is exactly what I did. I found a clean amp setting works best with this pedal, just set your eq the way you dig it and fly baby fly. Not that the pedal doesn't sound killer through a sightly dirty tone but you will definitely get the most out of it through a nice, warm clean tone, just my opinion. We plugged it into my modified 4x10 Deville, played it with a Custom Tele, and started with the Fat Sandwich's settings at around 15%. Through the neck pickup the tone was warm, crunchy, and perfect for rocking some rhythm guitar. Every time I dug in the grit would break up a little more, become richer, and more open. Played in the middle pickup position was probably my favorite. I was able to get the perfect balance of highs, lows, and mids. You can hear each frequency clearly without any clashing or interference from the drive. Through the bridge pickup the sound became even more defined, the mids became punchier, and highs stronger but not shrill. Next I tweaked the pedal's Tone and Presence knobs to match my amp, kicked the Resonance to noon, and slowly upped the Distortion. The sound was stunning! It had all characteristics as before only much bigger, thicker, and in your face. It was like the definition of a killer modern tone and warmth/character of a classic rock sound all in one. It really shocked me just how tight the eq stays no matter what level of distortion you're pushing out of it. Some pedals lose their sweet spot once you start turning things up, not here. This is a great pedal for anyone having trouble cutting through a live mix. Chords sound great, notes shine through, and harmonics jump out evenly and balanced. Your amp's sweet spot is instantly enhanced. If you're looking for an instant brown sound this is your pedal. It's insane how responsive the controls are, a flip of any knob and you got a whole new flavor. How many of you need up to two, sometimes three overdrive pedals on your board to get all the sounds needed for your live sets? Lord knows I could use some slimming down on the old board. With the Fat Sandwich all you need to do is mark down a few of your favorite setting and you're home free. I was easily able to dial in a solid Stoned mild crunch, Neil Young grit, and scorching blues lead tones. Opening or fattening up any sound you dial in is as easy as turning the three internal controls. You can also set one tone and use your volume knob to clean it up or tame it. The possibilities are endless with this pedal, Way Huge really did one hell of job.

For more info on Jim Dulop/Way Huge products go to either or You can also click the Way Huge logo in our sidebar for direct access to their website. Keep your eyes peeled for the rest of the Way Huge gang, we'll be posted another review on these killer pedals shortly.



Tuesday, November 24, 2009

New Jensen Jet Falcon Speakers

Jet Falcon Speakers
(The speaker with a secret magical green cone)

Jensen Musical Instrument Speakers is pleased to announce the latest addition to the Jensen Jet series, the 12” Falcon. This 50 watt speaker introduces a new style of cone, a secret magical green cone.

The Falcon’s tone is warm and full bodied with lows that are rich and fat. It responds to overdrive distortion with a colorful crunch. The secret magical green cone is specially designed to ensure optimum tone, no matter what style of music.

This latest release of the 12” Falcon demonstrates Jensen’s tradition of giving players what they are asking for in tone. With Jensen’s continued commitment to focus on allowing the player to achieve his/her signature sound, watch for more Jensen Jet series speaker designs on the horizon.


HipKitty Products new release / The Glaze

HipKitty Products
The Glaze

A few months back Analog War Cry had a chance to check out the HipKitty Cream Distortion in our Pedal Hunt Podcast Reviews. The Cream Distortion was nothing shy of amazing, a warm, smooth, overdrive pedal with the characteristics of a vintage tube amp. Well HipKitty is at it again, this time with a boost/overdrive pedal known as The Glaze. For those of you who aren't hip to the HipKitty brand, I tell you these are a must for your pedalboard setup. HipKitty's known for their high quality, hand built, hand painted, and unique designs. Besides pedals they also produce a couple of guitar amps that look like they'd quench any gear junky's thirst, but for now we'll take a quick look a their new pedal, The Glaze boost/overdriver.


HipKitty Products
is proud to announce the release of
The Glaze

The Glaze is a unique boost/overdrive pedal created for warmth and clarity to each note and chord played. The Glaze’s ability to expand and add to the upper harmonic content “Glaze” the upper register notes while allowing the lower register notes to retain clarity and focus.

The Gain control can allow for the most minimal boost level up to an overdriven tube sound at higher Gain settings. The Gain control has been described best as the “magic” control on the Glaze.

The Volume control circuit has enough volume boost to allow driving the amp’s preamp section into overdrive. Increasing this control past “unity” level can bring the amp’s sweet spots alive.

The Glaze made its initial debut at the 2009 Nashville Amp Expo in Nashville, Tennessee as a prototype test unit. Overwhelming feedback brought the Glaze to life.

Retail: $180.00 U.S.D.
Street: $135.oo U.S.D.



Monday, November 23, 2009

Nov Monthly Pick/TV Jones Pickups

If there's one pickup company that's not afraid to think outside the box I would have to say it's TV Jones. If you look at what most pickup builders are producing these days it's traditional single coil and humbucking pickups. Thomas V. Jones (aka TV Jones) has decided to take it in another direction, and for good reason too. Ever since I first started playing the guitar I have been fascinated with Gretsch Guitars. Why is this do you ask? I'll tell you why, the tone. And where does that tone come from? I'll tell you where, the mighty mighty Filter'Tron pickup. As good as classic Filter'Tron pickups sound through a clean tone they did lack a bit of power, but this is no longer an issue. For years now Tom has been modifying, hot-rodding, and perfecting the sound of these amazing pickups, making them stronger, more defined, and evenly balanced. For many of us, me included, the Filter'Tron tone has been a kind of secret weapon, and now that TV Jones has stepped it up the possibilities are endless. If there's a particular vintage tone you dig or have been searching for chances are TV Jones has a pickup that's perfect for you. It doesn't end with pickups either, TV Jones also builds their own guitars, guitars I have drooled over many, many times. We had a chance to light up our amps with two of Tom's pickups designs, the Power'Tron and his new P90's. Quickly these pickups have become favorites in our studio, and time and time again they continue to surprise us. Tom's pickups have given us a new arsenal of go-to tones that we're proud to use on our recording sessions. I can only imagine what the rest of the line is capable of...


TV Jones/Power'Tron
EM1 (English Mount)

First up to bat is the TV Jones Power'Tron, sent to us in the EM1 mounting style and swapped into a Les Paul Studio. This pickup may look like an old favorite but I assure you this is an entire new breed of Filter'Tron pickup. With the Power'tron you get all of the warmth and twang of the original only imagine it stronger and clearer. Something else you'll notice right away is the difference in output, these will definitely put some hair on your amp's chest. The output of the Power'Tron is more than enough needed to send your amp into a howling, great sounding, natural overdrive. The tight midrange, sparkling highs, and rich lows create an even projection of harmonics, overtones, and undertones. This makes for one of the sweetest tones you will ever hear come from your amp. To my ears the tone is much like the cross between a vintage humbucker and highend P90. You get all the size of a bucker, with the clarity & punch of a P90. With the EM-1 (English Mount) setup swapping the Power'Tron's into our Studio Les Paul was easy as cake and super quick. We wanted to put the pickups to work right away so we plugged into our buddy's JTM45 reissue and went to town. Before I go on let me just say a set of Power'Tron's and a proper Marshall make for one amazing sound, a definite winning combo. Getting a solid, crunchy rhythm tone with these pickups was super simple. I set it to the neck pickup, plugged straight into the JTM's 1rst channel, set all the knobs to about 8, and cranked the volume to about 7. Everything I wanted was there, the tight lows, midrange honk, and bright, clear highs. Mellowing out the sound was as easy as rolling back the volume knob, and you don't lose any of the pickups character either, the sound stays focused and intact all the way through. This was a big big plus for me being that I'm the type of player that relies on much of his sound by working the guitar's controls. You don't know how many pickups I've played that supposedly hold their own when rolled back, most of them either get too muddy or just go all to hell. You get non of that here. Next was a real treat and something I had to jot down. I switched to the middle pickup position, jumped the amp's channels, dialed mids and lows to 8, highs to 5, and every other knob to noon. Next thing you know, BAM! I got one of the most amazing high gain tones I have ever dialed in, I mean an absolute work of art. The personality of each pickup when blended with one another really works well to create an even overall tone. The sound was heavy and aggressive but nowhere near that sharp metal realm, some how it dished out all the balls and attitude of a heavy rock sound but maintained the warm, milky tone of a classic rock vibe. While in this killer high gain tone we switched to the lead pickup, this is where I sat back and let my parter take over, i'm not much of a lead guy. A few words came to mind while listening to my buddy play, sustain, violin, buttery, and EVH. Being more of a rhythm player means I've always gravitated towards the meat & potato players, this doesn't I don't dig my fair share of axe slingers. These pups are most definitely capable of producing many of the famous lead tones of our time. I classify the Power'Tron's in that elite group of pickup that work with you. You won't find yourself having to tame or spend hours trying to dial these pickups in. Want just a tad of grit in your chords? Simple, just strum lightly and listen to the sound bounce with a perfect mixture of clean and dirty strings. You can literally dig in with your fingers and control the attitude of a note, it's lovely! The last dirty test I put these through was a stompbox setup. I pulled out my favorite overdrive, distortion, and fuzz box. One thing I noticed while playing through each pedal was how well the pickups preserved my tone. Through the overdriver the Power'Tron's did exactly what I wanted, which was give me back what I put in. Distortion and fuzz pedals through these pickups was the same only much more of everything. Even in wild fuzz setting you can hear the lows, mids, and highs very clearly. I was able to get some new flavors out of my stompboxes with these pickups. Last I set the pickups up against a nice warm clean tone, which meant pulling out my modified Hot Rod Deville. It's kind of tuff to explain what the tone sounded like if you don't listen to it yourself, these pickups really do produce a special, signature clean tone all it's own. Without much tweaking of the amp's knobs I was able to dial-in every kind of clean I wanted. This tells me Tom really spent a lot of time working in the response of these pickups. Whenever you come across a tone this killer it leaves you without words. The clean tones possible with the Power'Tron's were by far my favorite and the new signature clean tone I use on all my bands recording sessions. As responsive and transparent as these pickups are I would love to listen to them through many more different guitars. There is a endless collection of tones you can get through these badboys, tones you will also be proud to use on your sessions. Whether you have an old Gretsch that needs a bit of a pushin' or a guitar that needs some character the Power'Tron's are perfect. Jump in with both feet you won't be sorry!


TV Jones/P90

The P90 pickup is by far one of my all around favorite pickups, it makes for a great studio tool, sounds great on stage, and is capable of a parade of tones. When I first heard TV Jones was going to be building their own P90 my first reaction was "I cannot wait!". Just like I imagined these pickups are off the hook and made beautifully. Everything I love in a P90 lives in and comes flying out of Tom's P90's. If you've ever played a proper set of P90's you know how special a tone they're capable of, it's a tone many cats have used, and a sound that is easily noticeable from the rest of it's pickup cousins. The mash-up for these pickups was a Epiphone copy of a 56' Les Paul Goldtop (the perfect candidate for a good honest run-through), a Fender Hot Rod, and a low watt amp head I use a lot in the studio (my secret weapon). I grabbed a couple of my favorite cables, plugged in, and never have I gotten such instant gratification as I did with these pickups. The change in the sound was unbelievably noticeable, most of the time it takes me a bit to warm up to a pickup, not here it didn't. Again like Tom's other models the frequency projection of these pickups is super even and tight. You get plenty of sparkle, the perfect amount of bass, a midrange that's out of this world, and enough balls to make your amp scream. As far as the Les Paul goes these pickups matched it perfectly, the dark sound of the guitar with the bright'n'smooth sound of the pickups made for a great combo. I can honestly say I was able to hear the Les Paul's true voice for the first time. I noticed it didn't take as much to get the guitar to start crunching, the harder I hit the strings the more break-up I got. It jumped that Epi into a whole new class of guitar, a guitar I might just start gigging with. This is what a good boutique pickup should do you for you. Many times I hear friends complain how they go out and buy a set of pickups only to come home to the same thing. It is apparent Tom has done his homework. It doesn't end there though, there was something a bit different about this P90's, yes they had all the traditional P90 characteristics, and they played and looked great. But there was more, these P90's are unlike any others I've ever played. You'll notice as you start turning things up that the pickups also own a sonic attitude all it's own. It was as if Tom blended a Filter'Tron and classic P90 into one pickup. At first I couldn't put my finger on it, then I remembered the Power'Tron demo I had done a few days earlier. If I had to put the TV Jones pickups into one word I'd have to say "HUGE". They are very sensitive to the touch but can be easily controlled with your tone and volume knob. It really didn't take much to get these pickups to start growling, which means you can set your amp loud and depending on your touch control it with your guitar. Rocking out to the P90's through the Deville was a blast, but I have always dug playing P90's through low watt amps. Next I set up my 15/7 watt head, plugged it into a 2x12 cab with alnico speakers, and started jamming. In the full 15 watts I didn't have to turn it up much to get a good chunky overdrive. With the guitar's volume knob at about 50% I got good balanced combination of clean and dirty. Every time I flipped the volume knob up a bit things got more intense, much more saturated, and richer. The notes just jump out of the amp and hold in the air without sounding brittle or piercing. My favorite things for sure would have to be how great the mids sound in these pickups, they're not too strong, not too punchy, and give you the right amount ooohmff. This was true of all settings, in low, high, and extreme high gain settings. Last I played the pickups through a simple booster, I wanted to see how well they played with others. I was able to get more tones than I knew what to do with, and this was with a simple one knob 15db booster. I was able to get the tightest sustain by simply cranking the clean boost through an already dirty tone. The sound was very natural and user friendly (another big plus for me). After playing through the booster I noticed these pickups took to all pedals this well, like a kid in a candy store. Distortion pedals became warmer, fuzz pedals became screaming banshees, and though modulation, delay, compression and wah pedals the original tone stayed transparent. If you're a pedal freak like me you will absolutely fall in love with these P90's. Before I forget there's another little trick these pickups are capable of, something I'm not even sure Tom is aware of. In the middle position, through a clean Fender tone, with some of the guitar's tone shaved off, you're able to get some decent Strat sounds. This makes for a great set of gigging or recording pickups, lord knows I could use more guitars that are capable of giving more. The TV Jones P90's not only met every expectation I had, but also went far and beyond. I see these pickups going nowhere, they will certainly live in this guitar for a long long time...unless I end up selling the guitar, then I'll have to swap them out and keep them for another suitor.

For more info on TV Jones's Pickups please go to or click the direct link in our sidebar. Stay tuned for more news and updates from TV Jones and more reviews to come in the near future. This is hands down some of the most solid gear we have come across here at AWC, we highly suggest you get your hands on some. Dig it!



Friday, November 20, 2009

Authentic Vintage Tone Today

We said we'd be back with some more killer gear from Raw Vintage, well here it is. For those of you who might have missed the last Raw Vintage feature we had done some reviews on their vintage quality pure steel saddles and tremolo springs. Raw Vintage is a company that has made it pretty clear what they're here to do, and that is to provide us with some really great guitar products, period! It is so important for those of us who play or collect vintage guitars to be able to fit them with the proper hardware and parts. Let's face it an authentic vintage piece just doesn't work unless it's sporting the correct outfit. Then there's that breed of gear junky that loves to build and modify his own gear. We hope we can inspire you cats to look into these killer products and get the chance to play your dream guitar.

Our next feature from Raw Vintage is their vintage voiced 50's and 60's Strat pickups, and these are no joke, serious, vintage tone machines. It's really something special when someone can builds gear that recreates the great sounds of our golden age of rock and roll. It is the many years experience in rewinding vintage pickups that gave Raw Vintage the ability to create their own authentic vintage voiced pickups. They used similar vintage pickup building techniques such as staggered pole pieces, Alnico magnets, AWG-42 gauge wire (same as the heavy formvar magnet wire used in vintage pickups), and wax potting. You can check out more info on Raw Vintage's pickup building techniques on their website. We had a chance to put each a 50's and a 60's set into action, testing each set of pickups through both vintage and modern amps. The outcome was something that floored us and absolutely satisfied our tone junky thirst. These are not your average boutique pickups.

(pickups available in aged or non-aged appearance)

50's Tone Pickups

If you've ever had the chance to play a proper 50's Stratocaster you know there is nothing quite like it. Pickups manufactured back in the 50's had something about them that created an even, warm, and defined tone. A sound we spend lots of time trying to achieve. So what is it about vintage pickups that makes them sound so good? It isn't some sort of magic or secret building techniques. So what is it? I'll tell you what it is, it's simply a matter of components and building strategies. This is why vintage pickups sound the way they do and the reason we're all hungry for them. The Raw Vintage RV-5661 pickups are everything you would want from a 50's Strat pickup from the sound on down to the look. What if you have an aged guitar that you don't want to swap shiny new pickups into? No problem, Raw Vintage makes both aged and new pickup styles. I swapped a set of RV-5661's into a standard mexican made Stratocaster and instantly I could hear a difference. All the bounce, jangle, and pop one would expect from a great set of Strat pickups came singing through my guitar. The 50's rock sound is one that had lots of spank in it, it was a sound that also worked great for blues, R&B, and blues. One thing that is a must in order to recreate a good set of 50's style pickups is warmth, period! I played the 5661's first through a 57 Tweed Champ, a reissue of course. All the way through the Champ's volume knob I was able to get some great usable tones. The blend of the low wattage amp and the Raw Vintage pickups created some of the best rhythm guitar tones we have ever been able to dial-in. We moved it up to some more power next by plugging into a Twin, here is where these pickups let themselves be known. All it took was a bit of the Twin's high's, mids, lows, and hint of reverb to get those immaculate clean tones we all love to play with. The depth in the sound of these pickups really shined as I turned up the volume and began to get some grit. Harmonics and richness in every note, and perfect amount of sustain without the use of a compressor. That's a good sign you're playing a quality set of pickups. Even when I dug into the strings things didn't become muddy, instead the strings resonated in all the right places which made them produce a warm, natural overdrive. The 5661's kept the amp's sound clear and consistent. To get back to a bouncy clean tone all I had to do was roll the guitar's volume back. I also noticed I could get clean tones by simply playing lighter, the sound would mellow out growl only when pursued. These are great pickups for those of you who like to let your hands do all the talking. The RV-5661's will produce everything from pristine cleans, punchy dirt tones, and screaming leads. Raw Vintage has really created a set of genius pickups, and all simply by following some traditional techniques. Oh how I love that good ol' rock and roll. Grab a set and bring back the sound that has worked for so damn long, you can't go wrong.


60's Tone Pickups

The 60's, they were a wonderful time for music, rock most of all. I see the 60's as the birth of heavy rock, experimentation, and the road that has led us to where we are today in rock and roll. There was a lot going on with both guitars and amplifiers that guitar players had to get accustomed to, having the right set of pickups was key in order to make sure you rocked. The Raw Vintage RV-6264 60's voiced pickups bring back all those fierce, in your face, and lovely tones we all love and worship. I put the set of RV-6264's in a 60's project Strat I was working on, they're still in this guitar and probably won't be going anywhere. First I played the pickups through a Twin Reverb, set it clean and let it fly. I was able to get a beautiful chimed and spanky sound, the kind of sound that's perfect for chord work, finger picking, country, blues, and funk. The sound was bright but not tinny, and had a sweet balance of lows and mids. Each string came across even and not jagged, which accented the beautiful cleans of my Fender amp. I've played single coils in the past that have produced uneven string projection, this leads to ugly sounding chords, and more work when recording. This is not an issue with these pickups. Next I added in some of my favorite overdrivers to the clean setting to see what kind of a dirty sound I could get from the 6264's. I noticed right away how well the lows, mids, and highs all stayed intact at all levels of overdrive. Some single coils will howl in all the wrong places or become muddy when played through certain overdrive or distortion pedals. I was able to keep my tone in check without much fiddling of the amp's eq knobs, and the pickups cleaned up nicely when I rolled back the volume. Now it was time for some serious overdrive, some english amp style overdrive. After all, what kind of a test would this be without playing these pickups through a vintage Marshall? I set in a perfect amount of rhythm grit, and flipped between each pickup position. The neck pickup had a perfect amount of output, great for those dirty Hendrix style rhythm tones. All I had to do to kick it into lead madness was step on my booster. Instantly everything from Stevie Ray, and Clapton, to Blackmore, and Buddy Guy came pouring from my amp. I was also able to get some nice dirty jazz tones by laying off on the drive and rolling back on my guitar's tone and volume. In the middle pickup position you get just as good a fat and clear sound only you get hint more mids and highs, this works for great for switching out your rhythm tones in case you're clashing with another guitar player. The ultimate joy in these pickups is definitely in the bridge pickup though, it's not too harsh and has just the right amount of output. The bridge position produced a smooth, balanced attack on the strings which made for some silky, aggressive lead work. Playing the lead pickup through a fuzz pedal was even better, all-out psychedelic rock heaven! It's clear these pickups were designed to work great in all positions. Along with all the in-between settings the possibilities are endless. The RV-6264's work great for so many uses and sound great for all types of music. Whether you're looking to build a solid 60's replica, need to replace a vintage set pups, or just want to upgrade your tone, these bad boys will sa-tis-fy! Enjoy and keep rocking on boys and girls.

For more info on Raw Vintage Products go to or click the direct link in our sidebar. We will continue to keep you guys informed on any news and updates from raw Vintage so make sure to keep your eyes peeled.



Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Super? Yeah we think so.

I must say this has been one amazing year for stompboxes and effects pedal companies in general. It seems like more and more passionate builders are coming out and sharing their talents with us, coming up with innovative designs, and bringing back some old time goodies. One of these companies taking pride in what they do is Phoenix Custom Electronics, a small two-man company making it their goal to build us gear that will inspire us to play, write, and rock out. They come to us from good old Clinton, Michigan and it's quite clear what they're here to do, to create versatility and variety. By using many of the same components that the classic champion pedals of yesterday once used PCE is creating some of the best pedals to hit the streets in years. They use NOS transistors (both Ger and Sil), true bypass switching, Switchcraft jacks (never mounted to their circuit boards), 1% metal film resistors, Orange Drop caps (as well as other high quality caps), powder coated enclosures (better for our environment), and every pedal is tested and played before leaving for it's destination. I doubt you'll get his kind of attention from the big boys. To me this is what it's all about, players building gear for players. Phoenix Custom Electronics is one of those pedal companies who's gear we will be collecting in the years to come. So go out and get your fix and may the gear junky live on!

Phoenix Custom Electronics

* Bias: Controls character of fuzz. From traditional to splattery
* Fuzz: For setting amount of fuzz effect
* Ohm/Impedance: Further shapes your tone/great for matching to other pedals
* Level: Sets overall pedal volume
* Range: Main tone shaping knob. Very wide selection of sounds

In the world of stompboxes sometimes less is more, sometimes more is more, and sometimes a bit of both is nice. I'm the kind of player that digs vintage style pedals just as much as modern ones. There's nothing better than having a fuzz pedal that can create authentic classic rock tones and also have the ability to flip into some all-out fuzz madness. Friends this is SuperNova, SuperNova these are our friends. Now that everyone's been properly introduced to one another I can get to some of the SuperNova's characteristics. Not necessarily based on any classic design is what makes this such a special pedal. There is a bit of a vintage vibe to it while at the same time owning the modern side of fuzz. The SuperNova is definitely not your average run of the mill fuzz box, this is a pedal that will keep you busy for a long long time. The pedal sports an intelligent set of controls that work to deliver just about any fuzz tone you can imagine. Every knob responds to the slightest of changes and every setting dishes out a solid usable sound. The SuperNova's controls are Bias, Fuzz, Impedance, Level, and Range. Might seem like a lot knobs for a fuzz pedal but I'll tell you this, there is a good reason for these controls. This is not just another multi-knob mass produced gimmick effects pedal, there is a method to it's design and it is absolutely genius! I was able to get everything from Clapton's woman tones, classic rock lead tones, and chunky overdriven rhythm sounds, to these great modern indie rock tones, clean boosts, and sputery broken speaker effects. One of the best uses I was able to get from this pedal is something I've named the "Triple Threat" setting, by which I mean three sounds from one setting. It's pretty simple actually you just have to know how to manipulate your guitar's controls in the right place at the right time. Set your main fuzz lead tone for all your high-gain needs, roll back the volume for some semi-clean tones, and last switch into your bass pickup for all your rhythm needs. It's beautiful! It's this pedal's control layout that gives it it's magic, every knob interacts with one another to create more sounds than you'll know what to do with. At first you'll notice there's almost too many sounds to mess with, but once you get a hang of how each control works you learn how they all affect each other and you're home free. I have seen Bias knobs on a few of the pedals that have come through here and now I am spoiled, this is something every fuzz pedal should have on it. Listening to the SuperNova one would probably guess it was of the germanium variety, I sure thought it was. It is capable of producing some of the silkiest, smoothest fuzz tones I have ever heard, tones that germanium transistors are famous for. The SuperNova isn't a germanium based pedal though, it's heart is driven by silicon transistors. Because it does run off of silicon transistors you don't have to worry about leakage, unwanted noise, and all the mess that comes with worn-in and bad germanium transistors. I believe it's the combination and design of it's controls that makes it so hard to pin-point. One second you're getting Fuzzface tones, then Fuzzrite, Big Muff, Tonbender, and so on and so on. It truly is one of the most versatile fuzz pedals to ever come through here. Then there's the many different pickups you can play it through. After all we all have our favorites right? For me it was playing the SuperNova through P90's that really sealed the deal. P90's are the one pickup that can be difficult to work into fuzz boxes, at least for me. I was able to play every level of overdrive and fuzz needed, and because of the Impedance knob I was able to use it with many many different pedals and wahs. Ever get home after buying a new fuzz pedal only to discover it doesn't sound all that hot with your favorite wah pedal? Lord knows I've had this problem and it was something I had to learn the hard way. This isn't an issue with this pedal, all you have to do is roll the Impedance knob until you get the sound you want. Simple as that. It would take us a long long time to try and explain just how many different tones this pedal can produce. So we'll just end with this. Need something you can use for any situation? Need the perfect studio tool? Need a fuzz pedal that won't bore you or that sounds like everything else out there?.... Need a fuzz pedal you can actually use and not just something that makes annoying mind numbing soundZ (hint-hint). You got it. It's called the SuperNova from Phoenix Custom Electronics.

For more info on Phoenix Custom Electronics go to Also look for another feature from PCE next month. We are super stoked to have these cats on board and we'll continue to keep you guys informed as long as they're around. Ahmen!



Friday, November 13, 2009

...and then there was rock

What is it that makes certain pieces of gear so special? I know a lot of it has to do with what they're made of, their components, and their designs. But there's more to it than this. I believe it takes passion, drive, and a love for music to really create something unique. There are a handful of cats out there that take it to this level and for this we gear junkies are all greatful. Without these people we would not have our rhythm tones, lead tones, and most important the signature tones that give us our own voice and style. Look at any of your favorite guitar players and you will always find that one piece of gear that is crucial to their sound. I'd like to introduce you to GuitarSlinger, a handmade custom effects pedal company with some really amazing tone tools. Their goal? To make sure you find your signature sound.

Handmade Custom Effects
proudly presents

high gain treble booster

* Signal processing (like best tube amps)
* True bypass
* Alpha pots w/metal shafts
* Status LED for battery check
* Best selected condenser & resistance
* High quality op amps & silicon transistors
* Heavy-Duty enclosure
* Handcrafted in Japan

Right from the get-go there was no mistaking this was a 100% high quality effects pedal. My favorite guitar amp was being serviced when the Stormbringer arrived in our studio, this meant I had to run it through one of my older, 2nd choice amps. The only amp that was available that day? A solid state Fender Ultra Chorus, which is actually not a bad amplifier for a solid state but it's no tube amp. We sometimes use the Ultra Chorus's clean channel with dirt pedals for layering guitar tracks, when we can find a pedal willing to play nice. So I went right ahead plugged the Stormbringer into the amp and low and behold, a real decent sound. It didn't matter that the amp was solid state, the pedal still sounded amazing, and most important it made the amp sonud much better than it would on it's own. Things only got better when my amp came back from the shop, my Deville's eq was modified, gain reduced a bit, and replaced two of the speakers for alnico. All it took to get a great rockin sound was a pair of my best guitar cables, the Stormbringer, and the amps knobs all set at about noon. A few cables and a good amp is always the best way to see if a pedal will stand up to the test, this way you get all pedal and no filler. We started with the pedal's level at noon and the gain at about 15%, this got us a nice cleanish, grouchy tone. The kind of tone that barks when you dig in and lightens up when back off, absolutely beautiful. The sound became sweeter and sweeter as I rolled up the gain, like the characteristics of a great broken-in tube amp. The more I dug in into the strings the longer the notes hung in the air, kind of like having the perfect amount of compression in the mix. Then I went right ahead and blasted the gain 100%, and just like I expected the sound was unbelievable! There was one sound in particular that I heard coming from this pedal, Tony Iommi. By setting my amp to a slight gritty overdrive, rolling back my guitar's tone knob, and slamming the gain of the Stormbringer all the way I got the baddest Black Sabbath sound. This pedal also works great for blues settings. Simply dime-out the gain, roll back your volume, and you're in. Then roll your volume back up for leads runs and solos. One thing that treble boosters can sometimes tend to have is too much highs, they can sound piercing or too sharp. This pedal is able to cut through any mix without sounding like an ice pick, which makes it a perfect pedal for lead or rhythm guitarists. I also found that the Stormbringer didn't discriminate between single coil and humbuckers, the sound was different but each one usable and appealing. What makes this pedal so awesome is it's ability to get both classic treble boost and modern drive settings, something you won't get from just any old treble booster. With this pedal you have a Gain and Level control and that's it! It's very easy to use and more importantly very easy to get a good sound out of it. This tells you a few things, that the Stormbringer's components are really something special, and that the work put into it came from cats that either play music themselves or from someone with lots of experience in the game. This is a downright no frills overdrive machine that will keep you playing and drive you to want to write killer tunes. I know it's pushed me to dig down and pull out some of my classic rock licks. GuitarSlinger is most definitely one of our best finds. We are stoked to have the chance introduce them to you for those of you who haven't heard of them. Now if you will excuse me I have some more playing I'd like to do. Till next time.

For more info on GuitarSlinger Custom Handmade Effects go to They have solid line of pedals for just about every rock and roll sound you might need. Make sure to stay tunes for some news and updates on GuitarSlinger and future reviews to come in the bear future. Keep it real and pull out your guns!



Wednesday, November 11, 2009

...This Little Piggy Rock and Rolled

There are cool pedals and then there are Coooool pedals, PiggyFX is most definitely one of the hippest effects pedal companies we have ever come across. The design of the enclosures are unlike anything we've ever seen before, from the graphics on down to the knobs these are some great looking stompboxes. Now I know what counts is what's inside a pedal, what it sounds like, and how it delivers. Well the sound of these pedals are just as killer as their looks. There is a quality in the tone of these pedals like a final mixed track of a record, great balance in eq and amazing overall richness. Run my children and go be a part of the PiggyFX revolution!

Brown Pig

There's a sound that has been lingering in and out of rock and roll ever since the birth of the distortion. That sound is known as the "Brown Sound" and it is hands down one of the most recognizable guitar sounds you will ever hear. Think Eddie Van Halen and you have a perfect definition of what a Brown Sound is. The sound is like a the perfect explosion of EQ, grit, and under/overtones. For years many of us gear and tone junkies had it ruff achieving this sound, unless we had the right combo of guitar, amp, and pickups it was outright impossible to dial-in this tone. Not all of us know how to hot-rod or want to go digging around in our amps. Those days are over and there are much easier ways to get our favorite tones. One of the reasons for this is are pedals like the PiggyFX Brown Pig, a pedal dedicated to delivering a spot-on rich and chewy Brown Sound. The Brown Pig isn't just a one trick pony either, no sir. This is a pedal with an ability to produce and handful a great rock, blues, and even metal tones. I was in absolute shock when I was able to get an Adam Jones (Tool) distortion sound out of this pedal, tight, focused, and meatier than all hell. In just about every setting this pedal sounds great and at just about every level can you get a usable tone. This is most definitely not your basic three knob pedal, the Brown Pig is an entirely new monster with some tones of it's own. The control layout is simple and extremely responsive to your every touch, every twist of a knob reacts like a great tube amp. Before we get into some of the tones we were able to get from the Brown Pig let's talk looks, you all know I am a sucker for a great looking pedal. The pedal's design is nothing too extreme or fancy, it is the way it was designed that makes it so freakin cool. There is a great gold plaque like top that sits on the pedal's enclosure which gives it a military, built to last look. The knobs are chromed out and heavy duty, ready for some serious gigging and stomping. A high quality true bypass switch will make sure your Pig delivers the best possible tone night after night and gig after gig. The control layout goes like so, Level/Tone/Drive, in the left hand corner is a mini toggle switch for flipping in some extra definition and crunch. The Level knob on this pedal is very powerful, it can dish out a great boost and has enough output to push any amp into a great sounding overdrive. The Tone control on this pedal is very special and one of my favorite things about this stompbox. Unlike many overdrive pedals the Brown Pig doesn't blanket your sound, you can roll in the bass without sounding muddy and boost the highs without things getting shrill or sharp. This makes matching the pedal to your pickups and amp very very easy. The Drive knob is also something that will more than satisfy your tone bug, you can get everything from smooth mild overdrive to screaming metal tones. You can also get a great blues rock tone by rolling up the tone all the way, setting the drive at about 9'o'clock, rolling back your guitar's tone knob all the way, and rolling back on your guitar's volume about a quarter. We got a great Stevie Ray sound which I thought was a rarity for this pedal. Last is the secret weapon and what makes this pedal so versatile, the mini Toggle Switch. By flipping it up or down you can get just about every distortion and overdrive sound you would ever want to use, it is just beautiful. In one position the Toggle Switch will give you a darker, browner, heavy rock sound. This is great for dialing in all your favorite classic rock bands guitar sounds. Think Halen, Deep Purple, Zeppelin, The Who, you get the picture. In the position the distortion becomes brighter and much more focused, perfect for great modern rock tones. Think Tool, Rage Against the Machine, NIN, Alice in Chains, and so on. The Brown Pig also plays well with others, meaning it sounds great stacked up with clean boosters, and other effects. We were able to get a perfect Eddie Van Halen sound by adding some phaser, a little delay, and a boost of the amp's mids. I was stuck playing Van Halen riffs for about a good hour and a half. Adding a clean booster in front of this pedal really isn't necessary, there is so much gain on tap it is just crazy. If the rest of the PiggyFX line is as awesome as the Brown Pig I easily see these pedals becoming all-time favorites and collectors. There is nothing better than a pedal that inspires you to play, makes you want to pick up your guitar, and want to write a tune. These are the pedals that always last, end up on our pedalboards, and become our go-to boxes in the studio. The Brown Pig may easily be the best "Brown Sound in a Box" we have ever come across. If you're on the hunt for a great go-to sound or need a pedal that can produce an array a great distortion tones, the Brown Pig will do you great. Whether you use it to layer guitar tracks, dial-in your key tone, use it for leads, rhythm, or keep it in the background as your secret weapon. One thing is for certain, you sound will not go unnoticed through this killer pedal.

For more info on PiggyFX or to check out some video demos go to Also make sure to stay tunes for more to come from this awesome pedal company. We are excited to continue reporting on these pedals and we hope to see you cats playing them. Stay true and rock
with style!





Monday, November 9, 2009

A Champion of the Stompbox World

I'd like to introduce to you one serious effects pedal company. The name is Balkan, and they are all business and 100% great tone. In the world of stompboxes the one pedal besides the fuzz you will most certainly come across and probably own a few of in your lifetime is the ever popular overdriver. There are many new champions out there and even some classics that are holding on strong, but every once and a while comes an OD pedal that sounds so killer that it pushes us to move on. I am certainly one of those players with an open mind and on the quest to hunt down as many usable tones as possible. It is our knowhow and collection if great sounds that gives us our signature voice, and in the world of music this is everything. The Balkan team consists of the mighty Richard Gibson and Sam Thomson, together they run and build the Balkan Pedal line. With their tons of playing experience and keen ear for tone they are creating what has turned out to be some real winners. Balkan Pedals has made their mission to design and deliver unto the music playing world the best possible stompboxes man can build. I say keep them coming and let the good times roll!

Balkan Driver
(duel mode overdrive)

*Duel Drive Mode Switch: Toggles between Vintage & Modern modes.

*Gain Knob: Controls overall drive/clean boost - full overdrive.

*Volume Knob: Balkan Driver overall volume.

*High Quality Footswitch: Switches between effect and bypass. True bypass.

*Power: Balkan Driver can run off 9V center neg 2.1mm adapter or 9V battery.

*Enclosure and Finish: Built to last.

*Hand Built/Hand Wired: Point to point wiring built to order one at a time.

We come across many many overdrive pedals here at Analog War Cry, pedals we are more than happy to put through their paces. When you play and demo as many pedals as I do you get to recognize certain qualities and characteristics within each one. They are like the many barks of the dog, all of them similar but every single one of them their own thing. This is something the average player probably won't catch, but sit with your collection of pedals long enough and you'll hear what I'm talking about. Ask any seasoned player or studio rat and he will tell you the same, it becomes a passion. Well in this here Balkan Driver there lives a sound like no other, a sound that'll drive you to want to play, play, and play your guitar. The Balkan Driver was designed by the talented Rich Gibson. Rich took his experience from many years of playing guitar and dialing in amps to create a pedal that would produce a spot-on quality tone. Something you'll notice right away which is something I absolutely dig is the simplicity in it's design. A gain knob, volume knob, mode switch, and footswitch. Beautiful!!! I was stoked at just how easy it was to dial-in a great sounding tone. The Balkan Driver works in many ways but where it really stood out to me was in it's ability to take your already existing dirty tone and enhancing it into a rich, full tone explosion. Played through a completely clean setting the Balkan driver can also do some magic, everything from clean boosts, crunchy rhythms, and all-out drive settings. It was through some mild overdrive that this really shined. The quality of the overdrive in this pedal is very organic and natural sounding, by which I mean it has a great tube feel to it. It responds like tubes too, your picking dynamics bounce with the hit of your hand. Lay off on your hand and the drive will settle down, the more you dig into the strings and the higher you play on the neck the more grit it gives you. There is a small test I perform with overdrive pedals, I take the gain knob and crank it, volume set med-low. Then I will play with my fingers, two strings at a time, this is how you get those great harmonics and odd tones. Harmonics and richness is something that a overdrive pedal always needs to have in order for it to make the cut. These are the pedals we use in our gigs, sessions, and recordings. Playing the Balkan Driver through a low wattage amp is where I really heard it's character. I took an overdriven 57' Tweed Deluxe reissue, stacked the pedal in from of it, and heaven came singing through the amp. I will say straight up that my favorite tone in rock and roll history is definitely the sound Neil Young gets through his Les Paul (Old Black), and his 57' amps. I have never gotten closer to that tone than I did with the Balkan Driver, and I wasn't even using a Les Paul, I was playing a Tele with a humbucker in the neck. This is one of those pedals that works for one thing and one thing only, to enhance and push your sound further into itself. To get the best possible sound out of this pedal I say plug it in to a decent tube amp and good guitar. Good pedals always sound their best when teamed up with good gear. The final test was plugging the Balkan Driver into my modified 4x10 Deville, this is my main gigging amp and the most versatile. I started by cranking the amp into a very mild grit and set all my levels at about noon, reverb off to get the best possible dry tone. Setting the mode switch in the vintage position produced some open, punchy, and smoother overdrive tones. The kind of overdrive that is perfect for rhythm guitar tones, licks, and layering guitar tracks. This works great for you cats into classic rock, garage rock and blues. To get a hairier sound out of it I simply put a clean booster before it and used it to push the Balkan into a perfect lead vintage rock tone. Everything from Hendrix, Stevie Ray, Clapton, and Page came screaming out of my amp. Switching into the modern mode gave me some more great all out rock sounds which worked perfectly for just about every type of rock genre. The modern setting definitely had more balls to it, more bass, more highs, more mids, and more great growl. The pedal's overdrive stayed crisp and clear throughout the entire gain range, even in it's highest settings your notes stay intact and not muddy. To mellow out the amount of overdrive the pedal puts out simply roll back on your guitar's volume and that's that, this is perfect for adjusting levels on the fly. When all was said and done we were left with a great sounding, killer playing overdrive pedal. The Balkan Driver will most likely be making some appearances on my band's recording sessions, and will be used to gig with. Rich recently shot me an email letting me know there is now a fuzz pedal in his line, I am quite stoked to check it out. I am confident that everything Balkan Pedals puts out will sound great, they're part of the few really special gear companies that make it their life to build great products. If you go to their website you will find nothing fancy, when you look at their pedals it's the same thing. They let the pedals do all the talking and boy do they sound good. I said it once and I'll say it again, keep them coming!

For more info on Balkan Pedals go to or click the Balkan logo in our links. Make sure to check back for the review of the Balkan Flame fuzz pedal, we should have it shortly. So go on and support these cats, you'll be happy you did.