Ultimate Pedal Effects Special: Distortion Pedals

The Pursuit Of Tone

Here at Mixdown we wholeheartedly believe that there’s a pedal out there for every guitarist. A stompbox soul mate, if you will. That’s why we have fought tooth and nail – day in and day out – to put to together the most comprehensive, toe-tingling and tone rich pedal effects special for this month’s issue. From pummelling distortion that leaves you gasping for air, to the purest of sweet delays, our writers have sourced the cream of the crop. Here are our top distortion picks!

AMT Electronics Legend Amps B1

EFFECT: DISTORTION/PREAMP | RRP: CONTACT FOR PRICING | DISTRIBUTOR: EGM DISTRIBUTION

RECOMMENDED FOR:

Guitarists in the market for a scorching distortion pedal, one encased in hi-gain for heavy playing and pronounced shredding.

 

SOUND AND VERSATILITY:

Modelled on the Bogner Sharp Channel Amplifier, the B1 is a sophisticated hi-gain beast that can deliver a tidal wave of distortion. Where it truly embodies the dynamism of the B-sharp preamp is in its intricate and superior definition. Despite pumping up the gain, the nuances of complex chord structures remain impactful.

 

USABILITY:

The gain knob propels piercing highs and aggression without losing the presence of a penetrating bottom-end, or mid-range scoop – rattling in scope. Turn down the gain and you get a humming crunch. But who can resist dialling it up again? Generally, choosing your preferred level of gain, and then adjusting the low, mid and high frequencies from a 12 o’clock starting point works well.

 

CONSTRUCTION:

The black finish and army green looks menacing. Reflective of the entire Legend Amp’s series, it comes equipped with a Cab Sim output for the use of a mixer or DAW interface.

 

OVERALL:

More than just a wash of gain and distortion, the B-1 will sit alongside a fuzz and/or overdrive comfortably, bringing to the fore its own hi-gain sensibility.

 

BY CHRIS SCOTT

 

Bogner Burnley Classic Distortion

EFFECT: DISTORTION | RRP: CONTACT FOR PRICING | DISTRIBUTOR: EGM DISTRIBUTION

RECOMMENDED FOR:

The gain-enthused player. This is a classic distortion in the purest sense: hot and heavy.

 

SOUND AND VERSATILITY:

The fat/tight switch lays down the foundation for the type of distortion this pedal is going to produce. The former delivers a deeper tone, with increased girth. The latter, conversely, is sharper and brings noticeably more heat. The gain and tone knobs respond well to these two sonic platforms, making blistering, high-gain lead, and tighter riffage attainable. It’s vintage ‘60s distortion through and through.

 

USABILITY:

The three-dimensional control system includes level, gain and tone, as well as the aforementioned F & T Switch. By providing two tonal starting points mastering the use of this pedal is made easy.

 

CONSTRUCTION:

A simple design that’s great to look at, and tough as guts metal casing ensure this will slot right onto your board. Responsible for the inner workings of the pedal is a custom transformer, designed by professional recording equipment pioneer Rupert Neve.

 

OVERALL:

Bogner have worked tooth and nail here to design a distortion pedal that stands up in a highly competitive market. The
 F & T Switch is an ingenious way set the stage for tone – from here cranking the gain or opting for a brighter tonal presence merely comes down to a question of playing style.

 

BY CHRIS SCOTT

 

AMT Electronics Legend Amps M-1

EFFECT: DISTORTION/PREAMP | RRP: CONTACT FOR PRICING | DISTRIBUTOR: EGM DISTRIBUTION

RECOMMENDED FOR:

Classic rock and advocates of vintage style distortion – old school heavy drive, and no-nonsense controls.

 

SOUND AND VERSATILITY:

The M-1 harnesses the classic high gain output of Marshall’s JCM-800 in the compact package of a stompbox. The output signal on this thing is colossal; at full the level knob cranks out 10db, surging with sustain. In the true nature of a tube amp, it purrs when pushed hard, and responds well to heat. That includes piling on the gain.

 

USABILITY:

The controls are your basic vintage setup, level, gain, low, mid and high. Fine-tuning these frequencies is intuitive and produces direct results. With distortion pedals continually looking to add complexity and specificity to their control boards, the familiarity and simplicity offered here is a refreshing feature.

 

CONSTRUCTION:

Two signal outputs – a standard direct amplifier out, plus a cab simulation
out for a mixer or studio use – are a welcomed addition. The housing is tough and rather small.

 

OVERALL:

This type of powerful tube-inspired distortion is still very relevant. It’s a classic for a reason, and AMT have done a tremendous job in adhering to these fundamentals without losing any of that tremendous tube power and brutal force. Without being the actual rig, it’s the next best thing.

 

BY CHRIS SCOTT

 

Ninevolt Pedals I Was A Wolf In The Forest Distortion

EFFECT: DISTORTION | RRP: $124 | DISTRIBUTOR: HOT APPLE DISTRIBUTION

RECOMMENDED FOR:

Rock, classic metal, pop and blues players.

 

SOUND AND VERSATILITY:

Going for some extra crunch, the Wolf In The Forest sits nicely as a starting point with the drive around 10 o’clock giving you some gain and sustain. The tone control adds bite or reduces a little too much zing when on the bridge pickup. Increasing the drive control takes you into saturated lead tones or thick chuggy power chords – great for rock and metal.

 

USABILITY:

If that’s not enough for you to shape some suitable drive tones, then NineVolt have also included internal trimmers for presence and bass letting you hone in and fine tune your EQ scope a little more. It adds to the range of musical settings that the Wolf In The Forest can handle.

 

CONSTRUCTION:

Straight-ahead design, feels tough and is easy to get around. The internal trimmers are a nice addition and highlight some extra design thought.

 

OVERALL:

A littler more gainy than the Surfing Bear, the Wolf can muster quite a bit more saturation and has a little more EQ range thanks to the internal bass and presence controls. Good for rock, blues and some ballsy old school metal it again ticks a heap of boxes including price point.

 

BY NICK BROWN 

 

Greer Amps Hammer

EFFECT: DISTORTION | RRP: $289 | DISTRIBUTOR: SIGNAL CHAIN

RECOMMENDED FOR:

Rock, classic rock, stadium rock. And did we mention, rock?

 

SOUND AND VERSATILITY:

Gain and grunt work in tandem to execute an array of overdrive, distortion and fuzz tones. It consistently produces a desirable density and penetrating resonance that responds nicely to the use
 of humbuckers and playing on the neck. With the grunt knob the tone becomes beefy and burly, and this curvature permeates everything from high-octane fuzz to low-gain overdrive. With these two controls there’s considerable textural variety.

 

USABILITY:

As the gain and grunt play off one another it’s really just about finding the right balance. Lowering the gain knob while elevating the grunt results in a thick dose of grit suitable for playing rhythm. The fact that you can then increase both knobs and eventually hit full-blown stoner rock fuzz demonstrates the pedal’s value.

 

CONSTRUCTION:

Robust housing and a striking white top finish, two of the reasons this is made for the live stage.

 

OVERALL:

With the use of level, gain and grunt knobs the Hammer nails traditional rock tones and then some. Its unique tonal parameters could easily fill a hole on a lot of pedalboards.

 

BY CHRIS SCOTT 

 

AMT Electronics Legend Amps S2

EFFECT TYPE: DISTORTION / PREAMP | RRP: CONTACT FOR PRICING | DISTRIBUTOR: EGM DISTRIBUTION

RECOMMENDED FOR:

Metal and hard rock. Saying that, all guitarists who dabble in any kind of gain or distortion would be willing to make space on their board for this two-channel preamp.

 

SOUND AND VERSATILITY:

Produced to emulate the sound of a Soldano, the S2 embodies metal lead principles with saturated tube-style gain and a surging sonic viciousness. It’s monstrous in tone when used as an OD, and produces a bright Fender-esque tone when clean. There’s some significant sustain and pulsating low end when elevating the OD level and gain.

 

USABILITY:

With three outputs – cab sim for connection to a mixer, preamp to a power amp, and drive to a combo or head amp – it offers a wealth of options. All three can be used simultaneously. The clean channel, however, can only be used through the cab sim and preamp outputs. When activated (by having the pedal off) the clean channel also has a clean boost, which modifies the mids for a broader boost. The three-way EQ is standard.

 

CONSTRUCTION:

There are no issues here as far as construction is concerned. It’s light and small statured, yet solid and robust.

 

OVERALL:

Everyone wants to encase their axe in cage-rattling distortion and to consistently smash out sizzling frequencies. Yet not everyone can afford to doll out thousands on their dream rig. The S2 is a cost-effective and genuine tube-like preamp that can well and truly fill that void.

 

BY CHRIS SCOTT 

 

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