Sunday, May 30, 2010

Your Guitar Tone at the Speed of Light

To me there are a few pedal companies that will never seize to amaze me, Maxon being one of them. I can look back at some of the first Maxon pedals I ever had and remember them being stunning little devices. The art of the stompbox is something that the people at Maxon have down to a science. We're talking pro quality tone, flawless builds, and a never ending trail of designs. In the last couple years I myself have had a chance to use and travel with a handful of Maxon pedals and all of them have been right on the money to say the least. When the VJR-9 landed on my doorstep one thing came to mind, "Oh my God!!!!" I've played some pretty pedals in my time but WOW!!! Music these days has finally beginning to take a turn for the best. People are experimenting more and letting their creative ticks shine out big and bright. If you are one of these sound hawks who is on the constant hunt for new and exciting soundscapes you will love this pedal. No really, you will LOVE this pedal.


Vintage Jet Riser

* VJR-9 based off of the legendary 70's Jetlyzer JL-70
* Employs newly developed Jet sound generator
* Capable of wide range of effects. From subtle chorusing/tremolo to heavy jet effects
* Employs DC to DC converter circuit & internal voltage stabilization circuit
* High performance NR provides high dynamic range with low noise
* Works great in amplifier effect loop
* True Bypass Switching
* Easy access no-tools battery compartment
* AC2009 power adapter can be used worldwide from 100VAC to 240VAC by auto voltage sensing. Great for touring musicians.

* External footswitch jack: Switches Jet sound On and Off (latching or momentary)
* Range: Controls tone range/Jet sound
* Jet: Controls volume/Jet sound generator
* Sensitivity: Controls Jet sound amount
* Speed: Controls modulation speed
* Width: Controls modulation depth
* Footswitch: Effect/Bypass


Let's get straight into it shall we? It is no secret where the idea for the Maxon Vintage Jet phaser came from. If you've been around for a while or have a love for pedals (like many here do) you have probably heard of the old school Ibanez Flying Pan, Ibanez Jetlyzer, or Roland Jet Phaser. These are all pedals that were ahead of their time with their unique sounds and unmistakable capabilities. As far as stompboxes go there weren't many that could stack up with what these pedals were capable of. Try finding one of these pedals in perfect working condition or at a reasonable price these days and you'll find yourself on a road to impossible. This is where the mighty Vintage Jet Riser steps up to the plate. Maxon has not only created a pedal capable of pulling off what the classics were capable of they have also gone the extra mile to give us a pedal capable of lots more. The VJR-9 is very easy to dial in, sounds fantastic, and is a perfect fit for both studio and live situations. The reason the VJR-9's success is it's state of the art sound generator, voltage controlled amplifier, and voltage controlled filter which give the pedal it's more realistic jet effect and give it it's wide range of effect possibilities. Toss in top quality parts and components, then take these features and blend them in with Maxon's MC4107D bucket brigade analog flanger circuit and you have one off-the-wall, splendid sounding effect unit. The VJR-9's layout consists of Input and Output jacks, an external footswitch jack, Range knob, Jet knob, Sensitivity knob, Speed knob, Width knob, bypass switch, LED indicator, and DC input. The Vintage Jet Riser also ships with it's own power supply for the ultimate performance. I was able to work the VJR-9 with not only guitars but also with many more stringed instruments and keyboards. The sky's the limit with this baby!

I can honestly say I took the Vintage Jet Riser and pushed it to it's furthest/farthest capabilities. Straight from the box before I even plugged into this box I was impressed beyond belief. Maxon's build quality is one that is seriously second to none. You can take these pedals and toss them off your roof without the fear of them falling apart. I've had many many 9 Series Maxon pedals on my pedalboard and I will say all of them look and function just as great as they did the day they landed in my setup. I first dialed in some clean'n'crisp guitar tones to hear the pure uncut effect of the stompbox. My Tele and Deville were the perfect combo for this. I set the VJR-9 through my amp's effect loop and got to work. The first sound I was able to get from the pedal was a lush, smooth, and sweet chorusing sound. I wanted to see how many sounds I could get before switching on the Jet effect. The quality of the pedal's sound, especially through the amp's effect loop sounded brilliant and very defined. The sweep was mellow but quite present, letting the chorus sound fall and rise with organic analog goodness. I was also able to get some pretty cool sounding tremolo effects by positioning the controls in just the right settings. I found the VJR-9's Speed control to have a really wide range of possibilities. Depending on where I'd set the Sensitivity the tremolo sounds came off either choppy and strong or mellow and fluttery. By dialing in a blend of the pedal's chorus and tremolo sounds I was also able to get these great sounding vintage vibe effects. The pedal's bucket brigade circuitry really gave off some warm pulsating effects. I soon found myself in Robin Trower and Hendrix territory by tossing in a thick'n'creamy overdrive or fuzz pedal in front of the VJR-9. Even with wild and unpredictable fuzz tones I found the combination of both pedals to produce very low to no noise. If ever you've used vintage flanger, chorus, or vibe units with harsh sounding drive you know the noise that can come along with it all. This pedal was having none of that! The VJR-9 blended in beautifully with everything I threw at it and sounded great with both clean and dirty amp settings. Now for the wild and crazy tones this pedal is known for. I will say that having a footswitch thrown into the mix makes all the difference in the world and gives you much more options when gigging or just playing in general. I used both momentary and latching type footswitches with the VJR-9. My AC15 style amp pushed to a natural grit was the perfect tone for getting things started. I dialed the pedal into a slow climbing Jet effect and let the amp's drive create the extra growl and aggression needed to make everything much more extreme. With the latching switch I was able to from classic sounding flanging effects to futuristic plains. The Vintage Jet Riser also worked great with a bit of and a lot of delay thrown into the mix. I almost don't want to share this but I will anyhow. I'm big on volume swell tricks and am always looking for new and exciting ways to create different sounds. The VJR-9 was able to give me one of the most exciting volume swells effects I have ever heard come from my amplifier. The formula was a sopping thick helping of the pedal's Jet effect with a hint of flange in the mix, next a good healthy helping of my analog delay pedal set to a slow long setting, then last I rolled up some of my amp's reverb to mesh everything together into a blanket of trippy swishes and swooshes. The ultimate though was setting this pedal to big epic Jet effect with some thick sounding fuzz, a hint of analog delay, and a momentary footswitch for clicking the sound in and out. For those of us who dig the art of sound play this is one awesome freaking pedal. The trick really is to use the Jet effect in small amounts and in te right places. I dig giving my listeners little doses of weird and wild guitar sounds. This pedal sounded great through clean and dirty tones, heavy and soft settings, and with just about every effect I threw at it. This made the Vintage Jet Riser one of the most versatile pedals I have ever used and one of the most fun. The strange, psychedelic, and futuristic phase tones that this pedal produced are only the beginning of what it possible. Some of the most desirable sounds were the warm vintage type effects that I was able to get. The thing with vintage units is that they're just too damn precious, too damn delicate, and not suitable for live applications. And the thing is that not all classic pedals sound good. I've played all of the vintage units mentioned above and when it comes to tone quality, tone range, and effect features the VJR-9 blows them all away. I'm not one that puts vintage gear ahead of modern gear just for the sake of doing so. For me there are three things that are a must when it comes to pedal play. #1. A pedal must be user friendly, which means I have to be able to get what I want from it without having to study a 30 page manual. #2. It must have great quality sound, and work with my root tones and not against them. Then there's #3. It's gotta work with me in both the studio and the stage. The Vintage Jet Riser proved to hold it's own in all of these applications while able to surprise me on more than one occasion. For me it is these type of pedals that are the most desirable. I want to have tone tools that will help me expand my tonal possibilities. You tone freaks will love this pedal and love it like no other. Get out there and grab one before they discontinue this baby. I easily see the Maxon VJR-9 becoming one of our timeless, collectible classics.


For more info on Maxon pedals click either the link in our sidebar or the Godlyke Dist. link below. Be one the look out for more pedal features from this awesome company. We will be looking at more from the famous 9 Series and much much more. Stay tunes my friend's.


The Missing Link

In the world of music gear we come across many many strange gadgets, gizmos, and gimmicks. I don't know how many times I've seen an advertisement for a piece of gear that claims it can give you that "holy grail" tone. The only way I've been able to get great guitar sounds is by hard work and lots of trial and error, hit and miss, and mucho experimentation. There are a few key items one will need to achieve a great sounding root tone. #1. A decent guitar, #2. solid pickups, #3. a good sounding amp, #4. a high quality set of guitar cables and #5. you need the chops to go along with all this but that is obvious. If there's one discovery I've made in the last couple years that has really helped me in reaching my golden tone goals it's a proper set of cables. Like many of you I'm sure still think I also thought at one point in my playing career "What's the big difference? A cable is a cable." Boy was I wrong and wrong for so long. Here Colossal Cables steps into the scene and blows all of us away with their killer quality, killer priced, amazing collection of guitar and speaker cables. I've been working on a recording session the last couple weeks and have had a chance to use and only use Colossal Cables for the entire session. I'll just say this.... the difference is more than noticeable. Pay attention kids.


Colossal Cable

* Hand soldered w/ultra pure multi-eutectic silver solder
* Bare annealed copper & braided shield
* Amphenol T-Series (pro-range) connectors
* Heavy duty metal back shell
* Stylized shell design w/ergonomic grip
* Cut & abrasion resistant outer shield
* "Jaws" cable clamp
* Mult point structure strain relief
* Handmade in the USA


Brooklyn Cables

One thing I noticed right away about these cables is that they had their own unique feel, response, and delivery. We had a chance to plug in and play the Brooklyn's, Sweet Fats, and Colossal's (the last being a speaker cable). I wanted to really put these cables to the test so I went ahead and tried a few different things. First I gigged with them for a month or so, then recorded with them , and last I paired them up with some standard cheap cables as well as some high quality leads. For the live situation the Brooklyn cables were perfect. I was able to run them through some high gain amps, unpredictable rooms, and up against my other guitar player which is loud loud loud! In the band I'm playing in right now I do switch over to a few classic rock style heavy dirt tones. The one thing that stood out from the get-go was the drop in white noise and hiss. The Colossal Brooklyn cables didn't change or steal the feel of my tone, no no. Somehow they were able to take that ugly blanket of unwanted noise and let my guitar's tone come shining through as pure as a sun ray on a clear day. Once your root tone is able to come through this way you start to notice things that weren't there before. You start to hear all of your highs, lows, mids, and everything in between much clearer. This means you can sit back and dial in the exact tone you want without any interruptions. I play two different amps when gig, or at least I try to most of the time. I set up a Fender for my clean tones and only use clean boosters and some compression with it. For my dirty tone I set up a AC15 style amp which I drive semi-hot and push further with some overdrivers, distortions, fuzz boxes, and god knows what else. Delay is used all around in and out. With the Brooklyn cables in the mix I was able to pull from my dirt pedals more defined, precise, and spot-on rock tones. Now, the type of pickup you use does make a difference with this cable so keep that in mind. With lower output pickups the enhancement is more in the tone's eq. Through a sparkling clean tone you can really feel (the magic word here is "feel") every little nuance, overtone, and undertone. With a hint of comp I was able to get an absolute dream of a clean tone. That rumble that makes chord play so much fun is amplified 10 fold when plugging into a guitar cable this good. One thing I must point out before I forget is the hipness and killer looks of these cables. Just swaying to and fro on the bandstand with these puppies looks awesome! I wasn't the only person who noticed a difference in my tone those few weeks I had the Colossal cables on the road. My guitar player said he was able to hear my sound much clearer, which helped him dial in his sound and inspire him to rock harder. Also a couple sound guys in different clubs commented on my sound and came over to check out my rig. One of the first things they pointed out was the cables, one cat said "Those have to be top of the line cables. I have never seen a tuffer looking guitar lead." Running around town with my set of Colossal cable really proved an absolute success. For anyone having trouble pushing their tone to the next level I highly suggest you invest in a set of Colossal's, which aren't all that expensive to begin with if I may say so myself. There's is no way to go wrong here.


Sweet Fats

Now we look at the Sweet Fat's. A warm, punchy, and god damn beautiful sounding guitar cable. I must say these were by far my favorite out of the two. I wouldn't say one was better than the other, these just fit my style of playing and my tone a lot better. I did get to use and have been using the Sweet Fats for live shows ever since they landed on my doorstep. But where these babies have been an freaking dream come true is in the studio. Taking those low to mid watt amps and cranking them up to holy rock tone mountain while plugged into a bad to the bone Colossal Sweet Fats is like no other. There's something that goes on inside one's head when he is hit with a jolt of inspiration. He hears a specific guitar tone which he in turn battles to turn out of his amp. The player sits patiently turning amp knobs this way and that, strumming lightly then harder listening for that special hit of dirt that will fly him into ecstasy. Trying to make these types of dreams come true can sometimes be a total nightmare. I'm sure if you've been playing for as long as I've have you've suffered more than once the awful sting of not achieving your dream amp tone. In the studio for me is where it always counts most. Microphones show no mercy and let every little accent come through loud and clear. If you're playing blues and have too heavy of a dirt tone dialed in you might come across sounding a bit corny, and vice versa. The Sweet Fats almost did all the work for me, it was almost too easy to get the sound I wanted! An old trick I've always dug pulling off in the studio is the doubling up of my rhythm guitar parts through two different amps and cabs, then panning them in stereo. Talk about a huge rock sound! I set up a Fender 57 Champ played though the Sweet Fats and a Les Paul. I shoved the little Fender into the smallest space I could and let her rip. The other side of the coin was an AC30 taken to the limit, again trough the Sweet Fats cable only this time I chose a Jazzmaster for the guitar. The beauty in both guitars' pickups came through so powerful, rich, and smooth. With these cables I was able to pull from the amp, pickups, speakers, and tubes a quality of saturation, dynamics, and feel that can only be defined by calling it epic. Yes I know having these great amps and some sweet guitars'n'pickups helps and helps a lot. But I took these cables to the limit by testing them up against cheap cables and I will tell you getting more from my gear was more than possible. This is what makes these cables so great. You don't loose any of the magic your gear has to offer. These cables open more doors, avenues, and highways into much more defined and complex guitar tones. Like looking at your guitar tones through a magnifying glass. The Sweet Fats proved to work not only with my amps and pickups, but also did some job on my vintage and new stompboxes, different cabinet setups, and other instruments. Of all the gear I've had a chance to check out this year this is by far one of the top picks for me. This is a well rounded piece of gear that works and sounds great with everything you stack it up against. Dig in kids while the getting is good!


For more info on Colossal Cables go to or click the link on our sidebar. Also make sure to check in with us in the near future for our article on the Colossal Cables Colossal speaker cable and Modern Classic guitar cable. We will try and bring you more and more from this awesome company as more stuff comes in. Stay tuned ya'll!!!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Plug in and Play

The limits for what is possible with our stompbox units these days are damn near endless. The materials and technology to go forward has always been in the grasp of our hand. It is those few gear builders and imaginative fellows that take us forward on a daily basis. In the last couple years there have been many new, exciting, and useful tools for powering up our effects pedals. How we power our pedals is not only a matter of keeping our boxes performing smoothly, I mean yes at the end os the day that is what it is all about. But what if we didn't need to use batteries, or cables, or have to plug into anything other than our patch and guitar cables? Cave Passive Pedals has done this for us, while at the same time delivering a slick collection of effects pedals that will help you paint the town red, green, blue, black, and any other color you can think of.


Mini Miff

* Passive electronic design (no batteries or power adapter needed)
* Two types of overdrive tones
* Boost capabilities
* True bypass
* Works great with guitar and bass
* No need to unplug from input jack to save on power
* Handmade in Australia
* Pedals shipped in handmade wooden box with microfibre cleaning cloth
* All pedals sport a real lifetime warranty


Why someone hadn't thought of this sooner is absolutely baffling to me! Passive electronics are nothing new, and passive musical devices have been with us for quite some time. Some of our favorite effects come from this timeless technology. From my standpoint I think it's a great idea. Not only does it help with dealing with dead, low power batteries, or tangled wires from power adapters. But this also means no tossing those old batteries in the trash which helps the green movement. I'm no hippy but I do dig the idea of keeping out planet on the up and up for as long as humanly possible.

The Cave Passive Mini Miff pedal is a simple and very versatile effect unit. The pedal's layout consists of In/Out jacks, a true bypass switch, and a single knob which lets you choose from two types of ovedrive and a boost setting. The pedal comes in a beautiful, slick looking handmade trophy type wooden box. Inside the box the pedal is neatly tucked away along with a microfibre cleaning cloth for keeping your pedal neat and sweet. The Mini Miff sounds and works great with many different instruments including guitars, basses, keyboards, and lap steels. I found this pedal paired up beautifully with just about every pickup I threw at it, and was able to stack it up with a handful of my favorite drivers, fuzzes, distortions, and many other types of effects. Setting this pedal up for a good tone is as easy as plugging in and picking your setting with the 3 position rotary knob. The type of pickup, guitar, and amp does make a huge difference with this pedal, meaning it works with whatever you throw at it.

I stacked the Mini Miff up with single coils, humbuckers, and a P90 equipped Junior copy. The amps I dished out for this tone meal were my AC15 clone, modified Hot Rod Deville, and 100 watt Super Lead. I first plugged the Mini Miff into the low watt amp, playing it with the duel humbucker guitar, and setting the amp up to give me as much grit as possible. I must say, my little 15 watt amp really does sweet on it's own and rarely do I find pedals that can give it more of anything. Most pedals if they do give it more balls end up completely changing the character of the amp's tone. I set the Mini Miff to it's clean setting and let her rip. Right away I could feel much more thump, girth, and size in the tone's eq projection. As if the eq circuit got a jolt of energy straight to it's heart. Digging in and slamming down on my guitar's strings really let things become meatier and heavier. Not heavier as in a sharp jagged sound, it was more of what I already had which made this pedal quite a treat. Rolling back the guitar's volume worked pretty too, I found this a perfect way to get a nice dark jazz tone, or boomy blues tone. Next I throttled back the amp's gain and set it for more of a semi-clean tone. I set the amp's clean tone as flat as possible with a hint of brightness to it. The Mini Miff's clean boost again added more of the same, giving the clean tone more attitude and weight. This is great for those of you looking for a hint more from your amp's tone. Next I set the pedal to it's OD1 setting and rolled the amp back up to a gritty dirty tone. The amp on it's own produced a perfect rhythm tone good for blues, rock, classic rock, and rock all together. With the Mini Miff engaged I was able to get a hint of boost to the overdrive signal while able to get a bit of fuzz in the overall sound. This was great for c0nverting a good rhythm tone to a lead tone without having your sound go too crazy. Sometimes all we need to get our tone to climb into a lead tone is a little push. This first setting was perfect for this. The OD2 setting was a bit different, more like a traditional overdrive pedal which takes and drives your sound into that amp break-up thing. Overall I found the Mini Miff to stand up beautifully to the 15 watter's punchy, sweetened sound. Another set up that also stood for me was the Mini Miff through an overdriven Super Lead. Here I was able to get everything from big epic rock tones, stinging leads, throaty rhythm sounds, and darn right aggressive distortion tones. The sound from the 15 watt amp to the 100 watt was a lot different, but what was important was that the feel was all the same. I was still able to control and shape my notes in the exact manner as I did with the low watt amp. I found the Mini Miff didn't produce lots of noise when played through high gain settings which for me was a big big deal. Many pedal can ruin your hard worked tone with hiss and white noise, not with this pedal! I plugged in the P90 equipped Junior copy and rolled the amp's tone back down to a mellow subtle crunch. The combination of the amp's sound, the guitar's pickup, and the pedal gave me a sound that sliced right through the mix and let everything I played be heard perfectly. This is a wonderful pedal for those of us who play with more than one guitar player in a band. I also played the Mini Miff through a couple of my dirt pedals which also sounded damn good. The Mini Miff was able to get a handful more flavors from pedal's I thought had no more to give. With overdrivers I was able to get silky smooth distortion tones. Fuzz pedals I was able to turn into beasts! This led me to plug this pedal into my lap steel. I will tell you right now that this is down right one of the best pedals for dirty lap steel tones I have heard in a long time. The Mini Miff's natural boomy sound also made it perfect for plugging into bass guitars. Keyboards I was able to make much more aggressive which really helped for blending in with rock music. All of this was possible without ever needing to use a battery, plug into an adapter, daisy chain, or any other sort of power source. I never had to unplug from the Mini Miff's input jack, and got a strong and healthy signal the entire time I played it. Cave Passive Pedals has really impressed me with these stompboxes. I hope to get a shot at plugging into more of these bad boys so I can report back to ya'll. It really would be great if these caught on with you players and we started seeing them on more players pedalboards. The Cave Passive pedal line is up to about 20 pedals right now which means they must be doing something right. I encourage you guys to tap into these well made, awesome sounding effects pedals.


For more info on Cave Passive Pedals go to There is a bunch of great info on the website. We will keep you guys up to date on more from this exciting and fresh company so keep your eyes peeled.

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 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.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Love It or Love It

I think it's safe to say that when it comes to our guitar's root tone we can get a bit on the obsessive side. Tinkering and molding things until our heads are spinning, and always on the hunt to make things sounds better is something any "tone chaser" will always get stuck doing. But obsessive wouldn't exactly be the way I'd put it, I call it more of a passion and love for sound. Add that to a keen experience in pro audio engineering and you have a cat like Greg Williamson. Put that knowledge to work and you have the Greedtone Pedals. When I first came across this pedal I decided to do a bit of research on it, looking into who and how it was being used. Soon after this I came to discover that in the few years it's been around the Greedtone OD has already become a favorite of everyday players, professional musicians, and studio engineers. Becoming somewhat of an icon amongst the boutique pedal world. My dance with the Greedtone OD was able to provide me with some very very tasty blues and rock tones, mellow soulful country tones, and leaving my hands with the satisfaction of a solid well played session. It's easy to see why so many cats have fallen into the spell of this aluminum little beast. By ends day of my first meeting with the Greedtone OD I too was held firmly in it's clutches.


Greedtone OD

* True Bypass
* Built-in Noise Reduction Circuitry
* 3-Color Duel LED's
* Duel Stomp Switches
* 100% Lead-Free Silver Solder
* Silver Mica Caps
* Built-in 9V DC Battery Back-Up Connection
* Locking 9V/AC Power Jack (twist-lock)
* Heavy Duty Die-Cast Aluminum Enclosure
* High Quality Pots
* Solid Chromed-Brass Knurled Knobs
* Hand-Wired Using Mogami Wire


There is nothing more I love from a piece of gear than simplicity and good sound. This is why this little gem was an absolute blast to demo, and why it is definitely one of the most exciting overdrivers I have ever had the pleasure of rocking out to. The Greedtone OD not only sounds good, it also solves some of the key issues that come with many vintage and modern stompboxes. One being the hiss or white noise that comes from turning a unit up past a certain point. That noise can be a killer to your tone, ruin gigs, and make recording sessions a nightmare. I'll tell you from experience there is nothing worse than coming across an annoying amount of noise when trying to gig, practice, or lay down a track. Greg addressed this problem when designing the Greedtone OD by incorporating a built-in noise reduction circuit. An absolute killer idea, and one that has proven to work beautifully with the pedal's many luscious tones. The next issue is the most common problem all dirt pedals suffer from, that being the lack of low end character. What's the point of dialing in that mean thumping rock tone if it's only going to suffer once the drive pedal is engaged? Again the Greedtone OD comes through beautifully, handing over exactly what I put in, and keeping things right on the money. The best part of it all is that the Greedtone Overdrive is able to take care of these problems without any tone knobs, toggle switches, or any other extra controls. This puts less components between you and your signal keeping your root tone as fresh and crisp and possible. You get a Volume, Gain, an on/off switch, and a more/less switch. The pedal is hand built with high quality parts and components, with everything is housed in an enclosure that looks like it's ready for war.

For this pedal demo I took out two of my favorite amps, the 100 watt Super Lead, and mighty mighty Twin Reverb. Both of these are very very loud amps, and amps that can produce some extra noise when cranked and combined with the wrong gadgets. Right from the get-go the Greedtone OD proved to work beautifully and got along great with both of these amps. Along with these amps I also broke out my Junior copy, Les Paul, and 70's Strat build. I figured the Strat's single coils, Les Paul's buckers, and Junior's P90 pickup all made for a thorough spot-on pedal demo. I first set the Greedtone OD up with the Twin Reverb, through a spanking clean sound with lots of bass and shimmering highs. First guitar up to bat was the Junior. I matched the pedal's output to the amp's and set the gain very light. I slammed down on a handful of big rich chords and got a great boomy, thick'n'chunky P90 tone. Then I slapped down on the Greedtone OD and SLAM! A huge, organic, rich overdrive tone perfect for fat semi-clean greasy rock and rolling. The pedal was not only able to hand me a great sounding light/fluffy overdrive, it also held my tone together and kept things nice and tidy. The overall feel was tight and gritty, but with great note separation and definition. The combo of the clean and gritty tone created a tone perfect for riding your guitar's volume knob. I rolled up a bit more of the Greedtone's gain and held volume where it was. One thing I must point out is the smooth gain curve this pedal has. Some pedals you roll them from 4 to 8 and cannot tell any difference in the sound. With the Greedtone OD I was able to get exactly what I dialed in which made tuning things in a dream come true. The extra bit of gain I threw in added a hint more hair to the sound which worked great with my picking dynamics. I was able to dig in and get a rich grimy sound, then lay off and produce perfectly balanced clean notes. I wanted to see just how much output this pedal had on tap and how that would affect the sound of my amp. I cranked some of the volume and heard my amp's tubes cooking and roasting into a creamy, hard boiled overdrive. I was able to get even more grit flavors by blending in different settings from my guitar's tone and volume controls. The supreme quality components and intelligent build of this pedal kept the feel of my root's tone just where I had set it, and pushed into a great sounding, organic overdrive and distortion. Next guitar was the 70's Strat. I set the amp exactly the same and took the Greedtone OD back to a mellow semi-clean boost. The combination of the Strat's spanky tone and pedal's sweet'n'tasty dirt made for one splendid sounding blues tone. In fact I heard everything from country, classic rock, jazz, and soulfful R&B tones through that first setting. I was able to get a wide variety of sounds by switching into different pickup positions, with all of them sounding super duper fine. I dialed the pedal's gain up to about noon, slammed the volume to around 1'o'clock and let things fly. Again the jump in grit was solid, even, and natural sounding, with my picking attack adding to outcome of each dirt tone. Boy how I love any dirt pedal that works this great with single coil pickups! To get a more aggressive grit out of the pedal all I did was stomp the More switch. This took the existing tone to the next level by giving it more sting, more rumble, and more attitude. Using the More switch with high gain settings also worked great. I was still able to hear the character of my root tone coming through beautifully, with no unwanted noise or hiss. The More switch feature works wonders when wanting to hold down a simple rig setup with lots of variety. While plugged into the Strat I went ahead and switched into the Super Lead head and 4x12 cab. I left the setting where it was and hit some heavy blues licks. My lord what a mighty roar came screaming from the four 12's. Talk about classic rock heaven! Next I set the amp to a medium gritty overdrive and stacked the pedal's overdrive sound to it. The combination of both dirt tones blended to created a smooth, epic rock sound. I was able to sling about all my mellow rhythm playing then turn my guitar's volume up and hit lead guitar tones with no problem. Last but certainly not least I plugged in the Les Paul. All of the same clarity, definition, balance, dynamics, and epic feel I got from the single coils came out through the humbuckers only a lot thicker, creamier, and beefier. It didn't matter what I set the overdrive level to, the pedal was able to deliver a handful of amazing sounding dirt tones by rolling in and out on my volume control, and stepping in on the More switch. The amount of sustain I got from the humbuckers was insane! Even in the highest gain settings the Greedtone OD still held it's natural/organic vibe and never got sharp or square sounding. I stacked it up with clean boosters, modulation effects, and even other dirt pedals and never had a problem getting the sound I wanted. This is the ideal overdrive pedal for anyone wanting the most from a minimal amount of features. Cats who rely on their guitar's controls to dial in tones on the fly will love this pedal. Those of you looking for a secret weapon for your studio will have a blast dialing in and layering great sounding dirt tones. I give Greg two thumbs up for this little demon and pray he delivers unto us some more beasts. Make sure and check out his Myspace page, there are a bunch of cool devices you won't see on is website.


For more info on Greedtone Pedals go to or if ever there comes another creation from Greg's killer Greedtone line you can be sure we will run our paws through it. Stay tuned for more!