Hotone Skyline Series Blues
Hotone Audio company was founded in November 2012 and is operating from Hong Kong. This young company claims however, that it has over 15 years of working experience in the digital audio field. Hotone also claims to do their own R&D, design, production and sales of their products of the highest quality. Hmmm. The proof is in the pudding.
Hotone Audio Skyline Fury
One of the latest fads in the pedal industry is the miniaturization of pedals, there are now quite a few companies and brands who offer nano sized pedals – usually in 1590A casing - that pack the same features and controls as the “big” pedals.
Hotone Audio is a newcomer to the world of effects, and they made a remarkable entrance with their Skyline series, a line of 8 adorable little pedals that – even though I walked straight past and did not notice – actually did not go unnoticed at the Frankfurt Musikmesse earlier this year...
Mad Professor is a Finnish amplifier company that teamed up with Bjorn Juhl from BJFE pedals, who designs effects and amplifiers that are manufactured and distributed under the Mad Professor Amplification brand.
The latest addition to the Mad Professor boutique effect line is a "Brown sound" distortion pedal reminiscent of late ’70s/early ’80s guitar with onboard plate style reverb.
Now for those unfamiliar with the term "Brown sound", it is nothing to be scared of. The "Brown sound" is a typically nasty, midrange, biting distortion sound. Think early Eddie Van Halen.
Of course the pedal has a deep brown shiny finish, in- and outputs on the side, Boss adapter plug next to the input. The distinct Mad Professor logo and white labeling, a red status LED, a true bypass switch and four controls for Level, Presence, Brown, and Reverb. Cream knobs with black markers.
Inside, there is the familiar 9V battery snap, but also two factory tuned trimpots to adjust the reverb time and tone.
Behold the mighty Octophant! Is it an octopus, Is it an elephant? No, it's the collaborative pedal designed exclusively by a team of knowledgeable HCFX peeps who joined forces to build this exclusive pedal for Harmony Central Effects Forum members.
A Kickstarter project was initiated to raise the necessary funds and about 6 months later, a total number of 140 Octophant pedals made their way out there to the forumites. And you know what, I am really, really disappointed that I did not get on the list to get one of these myself.
The whole technical idea came from V, a boutique pedalbuilder, founder of Shoe Pedals (check my review of the Shoe Pedal Savior Machine). V himself also finished about 45 Octophants, the other pedals assembled by skilled forumites WeStartToDrift and Blake (from Blakemore Effects).
There was a certain degree of personal touch allowed by the circuit so some pedals are slightly different as compared to others, different transistors, different Led configurations, etc.
MMolteratx did the PCB.
Stunning graphic design was offered by Robopimp.
Enclosures came from Pedal Parts Plus, who also took care of drilling, painting, and screening.
OK, but what is an Octophant?
The circuit is a combination of a few things. It is partially based on the Kung Fuzz which has a similar structure to a Fuzzrite.
It also has portions of an octave circuit from pedalguru Tim Escobedo called “Push me Pull you” between the two stages of the "Fuzzrite," and to top it off, it has a variable bias Germanium class A booster as its last section.
The Octophant uses a unique combination of several different types of Silicon NPN, MOSFET, and Germanium NPN transistors.
Looks like a pedal, a beautiful pedal, totally practical and ergonomical, not too big, not too small, a 1590 BB enclosure painted in white with the beautiful Octophant creature, other colours were available as an option.
Jacks on top, battery snap as an option and standard 9V Boss adapter plug.
True bypass footswitches for On/off and to engage the Octave, each with a LED
Controls for Level, Boost and Gain and a 2 way Toggle for Texture.
The controls are actually misdrilled. The Switch was supposed to be labeled "Boost" and the knob for the boost's bias would have been "Texture." A few of them exist in that orientation actually, but most Octophants ended up with a boost knob and a texture switch. The labels are still appropriate, actually as the boost knob does control how loud the second "texture" mode is along with the actual texture.
Inside, the circuit board and wiring are immaculate. And there's a 5$ AC187 germanium transistor in there (some Octophants are fitted with an obscure Russian transistor).
During my last visit at Bart’s gear vault, he handed me a conspicuous looking tan prototype pedal.
Bart asked me what I’d make of it, hmmm, hard to tell by the looks of it, but I was curious to hear the sound produced by the Savior Machine … Super Touch Sensitive Original FET Overdrive.
First off, Shoe Pedals
Handmade Effect Pedals from Brooklyn New York, Shoe Pedals is selling direct, Shoe Pedals is on Facebook or you can contact Christopher Venter -the man behind Shoe Pedals- via shoepedals at gmail dot com.
One day, during the summer of 2011, our soon to become pedal builder stayed up late during a massive thunderstorm and put together his first pedal up in his room in Brooklyn next to a guitar shop called Pentatonic Guitars. It was a fuzz in a blank silver enclosure. The footswitch was labeled "SHOE" with an arrow pointing to it. He took the pedal down to the shop for people to try and some folks really liked it. For the next few weeks he would go home and build more pedals. He would bring in the new pedals and see what people in the shop liked best. Because of the footswitch label, people started calling them "Shoe Pedals".
Shoe Pedals now has an entire line of pedals targeted towards sonic miscreants and "normal" people too.
Hmmm, for a prototype, this pedal looks really clean, inside and out.
The usual MXR sized enclosure, controls for Level, Tone and Gain
True bypass switch, bright LED, 9V Boss style plug.
The graphics are enchanting, I like the handwritten “Shoe” and arrow and control labels, it certainly gives the pedal that handmade, artisanal touch.
The production version is going to have nicer aesthetics, I have seen pictures of the Savior Machine with hand stamped art, but silkscreened versions might also become available in the future.
The production version of the Savior Machine might also have an extra switch for a stiffer/louder clipping. Or even an extra control for headroom. Or both.
Carl Martin is a familiar name for most players. They have been around for years now and have a reputation for making reliable, sturdy effect pedals and switchers.
Carl Martin strives to offer professional products in the mid-price segment.
Over the years, they released a several lines of effect pedals, and one of the latest additions to the Classic series is the Classic Optical Envelope.
Nice! The Optical Envelope is housed in a pale blue die cast 1590BB sized housing.
The pedal has two footswitches, the first is a buffered On/Off switch and the second for switching between High Pass, Band Pass, and Low Pass. Each filter mode has its own Status LED and there is also a status LED for the On/Off switch.
Four controls: a Q control for adjusting the sweep of the bandwidth, a Tone control that works as a separate Hi-pass filter, a Drive control to set the threshold of the auto-wah effect and a Level control for adjusting the overall volume output.
It has the standard 9V DC plug and both in- and output jacks on the top panel. The only thing missing is an easy access battery compartment, but Carl Martin recommends using a power supply.
Little Voodoo Fuzz
Deaf Audio started out in 2008 as a small boutique pedal company that is ran by Magnus Nordbye from Hamar in Norway. Starting out with building custom pedals, Deaf Audio offers a small product line of guitar effect pedals for the demanding musician.
Yup, definitely small, this Little Voodoo is a 60s style fuzz pedal inspired by the legendary Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face is housed in the trendy small 1590A casing. But it feels and looks solid, with a single knob, aptly labeled fuzz, a comfy footswitch, copper finish, classy, plastic jacks on the side and the familiar Boss style 9V adapter plug on top. No status LED.
Colorsound Fuzz Box
Aha! Another reissue Colorsound from the fine folks at Macaris. This time around it’s the legendary one knob Fuzz Box. It clearly says so on this beautiful blue pedal, that is an original design of Dick Denney, based upon the original pedals Dick handmade for Colorsound in the nineties and put together according to the actual hand drawn circuit diagrams dating from the sixties.
The legend takes place at Dick Denney’s bungalow in the nineties. If his name doesn’t ring a bell, well it’s the same Dick Denney who designed the Vox AC30. Well, so the legend goes that one of the Macaris guys was sitting down with Denney talking valve echo when he produced a circuit board he designed back in 1961 (!!!). It was still in his drawer. The board had one control that did everything at the same time - gain, volume, nastiness, fuzziness! It went into production straight away and it was called the one knob fuzz. Back in the sixties, Dick Denny produced a similar circuit for the Jennings Rotosound fuzz.
Colorsound Power Boost
As Macaris, that famous music shop in London, is getting close to celebrating its 50th birthday, they decided to release a limited run of 50 pedals of one of the classic Sola Sound / Colorsound designs, the 18V Power Boost.
UK pedal guru Stuart Castledine was closely involved in the making, shaping and treating of this succulent and stunning recreation of the 18V Power Boost.
Ghost Effects Silicon Pep Box
Aha! Finally I get to try out one of those yummy looking Ghost Effects pedals. The Silicon Pep Box. It's a faithful clone of one of those mega rare fuzzboxes from the sixties, the WEM Rush Pep Box.
Ghost Effects is based in Birmingham UK and was founded in 2004 by Ian Sherwen, a fine pedalbuilder who is really devoted to meticulously recreate all of those wonderful fuzz circuits from the roaring sixties.
OK, most fuzz addicts will agree that the first commercial available fuzzbox was the "made in USA" Maestro Fuzztone as early as 1962. The Maestro was not really a huge success in the beginning, it did not take off until 1965, when the Stones used it for the classic Satisfaction intro riff. All of a sudden, the fuzz sound became very popular, and since the Maestro fuzz pedals were not available in stores in the UK or Europe, people started making fuzz pedals over here as well. Hurrah!
The original Pep Box was inspired on the Maestro Fuzztone, encased in a similar wedge enclosure, but using 3 germanium transistors.
Around 1966, Pepe Rush licensed his design to WEM. Little is known about this transition. There is a picture of John Lennon toying with a silver wedge WEM Pep box during the Revolver studio session. This was in 1966. Circuitwise, it was more leaning towards a Fuzz Face then, using 2 germanium transistors.
Anyway, the silicon WEM Rush Pep Box, made by "Watkins London England" was released around the end of 1967. Later on, also a bass version of this pedal became available.
This WEM Rush Pep Box was a rectangular metal box (32 cm long, 8,7 cm wide, 4cm deep), painted in red with a black wooden top covered with black rubber and with bare metal trim, the controls – one for volume, the other for "pep" - were recessed into the top panel and both controls could be dialed to a maximum output of 8.
Also, the pedal did not have the familiar in- and outputs, but instead it was fitted with its own output cable. This WEM Rush Pep Box used two BC107 Silicon NPN transistors.
Ian Sherwen of Ghost Effects obtained a vintage WEM pedal and his version is faithfully modeled after an original WEM Rush Pep Box.