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Overdrive, Boost and Fuzz Toneparty review
By Martin Werme and UGG.

Martins review:
Saturday the 25th of January 2003 was a rainy day with a few degrees above 0C which makes it particularly grey in Stockholm at this time of the year. I had longed for this UGG meeting since it was announced cause I was, and still am, on my way of buying a overdrive/distortion pedal to get some crunch out of my vintage Marshall Superlead 100 and Fender Bassman. Having read a lot of reviews on the Internet about different boutique pedals made me crazy because I really wanted to put my hands on them and try them out myself. UGG possesses high-end boutique pedals and it is their niche to test the 'ultimate gears'. This is why the Toneparty's is a fantastic idea since it is too expensive to buy and try that stuff for yourself! and the more people that comes to these meetings bringing their equipment, the more products will be brought into the 'UGG society'.

I will not mention all the pedals that we tried, only those that I was really impressed with and would like myself. If you're after boutique pedals you usually have spent a lot of money on the rest of the equipment and don't want a pedal that chokes its sound. So besides a sound character that suits you, transparency is what you pay for in my view. There were two pedals that I particularly liked and which fulfilled above mentioned criteria and one of them is the Landgraff Dynamic Overdrive. It is a very versatile pedal with all the regular sounds that guitarists need and more. It has three positions which has to be used one at a time and they go from boost to distortion. The only complaint I have about this pedal is that it would be nice to be able to use at least two of the positions via an extra switch making it a two channel pedal, but then it would need a couple of more controls as well making it more sturdy so I don't know if it's a good idea? Perhaps I have to buy two of these pedals (just kidding, they cost plenty). There is an extensive review of this pedal on this homepage under Reviews and there are also some sound clips.

The second pedal that impressed me a lot was the AnalogMan Sun Face NKT. It's a fuzz pedal leaning more towards old-school fuzz than a extreme overdrive sound. It seemed to favor the Marshall amplifier more than others but man what a sound, Jimi Hendrix would have loved it for sure. It swallows the pick attack and swell out beautifully, but it is still transparent. It might sound impossible but it has to be played to be believed and all the stellar reviews about this pedal on Harmony Central seemed to be correct this time. Anders particularly liked that the pedal cleans up exemplary when the guitar's volume is turned down and this is something that Analogman himself says is an important feature of the pedal. The sustain is good as well even when using moderately amounts of (not full out) gain which is when it sounds the best in my opinion. The Sun Face uses germanium transistors instead of silicon transistors and there are two versions two order, the regular germanium transistor and the NOS NKT-275 transistors. The NKT-275 containing pedals are supposed to sound deeper and clean up better when the guitar volume is turned down.

Further, there were two more pedals that made us at the Toneparty really satisfied and it was the Mystic Wonderland and Crowther Hot Cake. The Wonderland pedal is quite a big box with plenty of tone tweaking options and two channels that are inspired by the classical Ibanez TS-808 and TS-9 respectively. The 'TS-9' sound is now a sound of its own being used by the tone wizard Scott Henderson and was used extensively by Stevie Ray Vaughan as well. This pedal kept the guitar sound together really well which Fred appreciates a lot, and can act as a clean boost to singing overdrive with a warm, wooly character that everyone appreciated. The Hot Cake can also be used as a clean boost to overdrive but it is more transparent in its' character making it sound more aggressive in comparison to the Wonderland but when using a pinch of the pedals drive it is perfect in pushing an amplifier on its way of breaking up into screaming. When Ulf used the Hot Cake between his Telecaster and a Vox AC30 on its way of breaking up it sounded so shimmering and perfect. I'm sorry that I use these words but I seem to really like the sound of a AC30 on its way of breaking up.

These reviews are based upon my own taste of overdrive and what I prefer, and I did not mention the Klon Centaur which is more of a boost pedal, but it sounds fantastic as such. Remember that most of the boutique pedals we tried are nice but the ones I mentioned are those that I liked the most and to me they were the cream of the crop. / Martin

Some words from Ulf at UGG:
When trying out these pedals there are a couple of things that strikes you. First is how completely different they sound in different amps. Second, in a shootout situation it's very easy to loose track of how the pedals will work in a real life situation, when switching back and forth in a rehearsal room. That said, it was great fun and I was still abel to pick some favorites.

My tonal preferences leans towards british sounds. Both the Vox and the Marshall amps are mine so I tend to search for pedals that work with them. My favorite with the Vox was the Hot Cake. It takes you from a mild boost to almost fuzz like sounds. I prefer it with the volume high and both presence and gain below half. It blends so well with the chime of the AC-30 and gives it just the right amount of "hair" to make it growl.
Another pedal that I was pleasently surprised by was theAnalogMan Sun Face. It's a fuzz pedal, and I normaly don't care that much for fuzzes. First we played it in the Showman then the Vox. It didn't really sound that great, but then we stuck it in front of the Marshall, wow! It came to life. The worst of the fizzle was gone and it sounded huge. Still dynamic, and responsive to both pick attack and volume pot tweaking. The stompbox that got most attention was the Landgraff DO. It was the only pedal that sounded good in every amp, although it was spectacular in the Showman. Giving the blackface amp a Marshall roar that was superb.

Two pedals that should be mentioned in this context is the Mystic Wonderland and the Baby Blue OD. Neither sounded bad in the british amps, but both sounded much more at home in the Fender, although couldn't quite touch the Landgraff, in my opinion of course. We had a number of excellent clean boosts also. The Klon Centaur, the Baby Pink booster and the Budda Wha+, that has a boost function. The Klon, we thought, had a bit more sparkle and transparence than the BPB, but just a bit. The BPB has other advantages over the Klon, like smaller size as well as a smaller pricetag. The buddwha+ sounded good, but came third never the less.

I must say that no pedal at this Tone Party was a total disapointment. The avarage build and tonal quality of many of todays pedals are indeed very high. / Ulf

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