SubDecay Blackstar


Subdecay (2007-2008)

Get high gain and huge tone from this box. Loads of sustain for blistering leads, and enough control to make any amp sound meaty and mean, yet harmonically rich and full.. For hard rock to metal and more.

What is the Blackstar?

The Blackstar is a high gain distortion pedal especially suited for hard rock and heavy metal playing. The Blackstar allows you to match the pedal to your guitar and amp... NOT the other way around. Most high gain pedals fall flat because of their frequency response, or because all the distortion is produced in one gain stage.

Frequency response problems can happen at the input or output of the effect. Too much bass response at the input can make the distortion muddy. Of course bass response is dependant on the guitar used, and most distortion pedals do not allow for tweaking pre-gain bass response. The lower drive knob is a bass frequency gain control and allows you to "match" the pedal to your guitar. Then there's the output. A lot of high gain pedals sound great at low volumes, but just don't cut through the mix at rehearsal or on stage. The Blackstars' tone control allows you to match the distortion to your amp, whether its a 1x10 combo, or a 4x12 stack.

The Blackstar produces its distortion through cascaded gain stages, much like a tube amp. Each stage is a little different. The first stage uses a mosfet. The two following stages use hand picked jfets. Jfets are known for producing even harmonics when overdriven, much like tubes in guitar amps.

Notes from the engineer

Almost immediately after releasing the Liquid Sunshine, requests poured in for the same pedal but with more gain. After tinkering around I ended up moving on, and not giving it much thought for a while.

Then one day, while visiting Catalinbread in Seattle, The owner Nicholas Harris, and I decided to plug in some pedals. He had told me once before that his Super Chile Picoso booster pedals worked really well with Liquid Sunshine. We ended up plugging them in, and turning all the knobs up... There was a lot of palm muting, pinch harmonics, and eyebrow raising going on.

I thought to my self, instead of adding a cascade of similar stages to the Liquid Sunshine Design, perhaps just a big fat clean boost added to the circuit would work. I designed a circuit limiting my self to 3 knobs, and simply replaced the input buffer in the original design, with a simple clean boost circuit. Within a couple weeks, I had a working prototype. It was good, but it wasn't great. The original design, just didn't have quite enough gain. The drive knobs didn't interact in a complimentary way.

At this point, I decided this needed to be more than a simple afterthought of an existing design. It needed to be something that would stand on it's own. Instead of just pushing gain to the limits it needed to pushed over the top, and I knew it needed a really good tone control.

I ended up totally changing the way the drive knobs worked, and came up with a tone control design that complemented the effect.

SubDecay (2009)

The Blackstar with Girth is a total redesign of our high gain overdrive. While still the high gain little brother of the Liquid Sunshine in spirit, the design has been drastically changed for improved dynamics and less noise. Controls are tailored for use with many different guitars and amplifiers.

Most importantly, the Blackstar will retain the sonic characteristics of individual guitars and pickups. This has been my main complaint with the higher gain pedals that I have owned. No matter what guitar I plugged in there was very little difference in sound. Dynamics and pick attack will not get lost with this pedal.

So you have your usual overdrive controls, Drive, Tone, Level, but what does that OTHER knob do? The Girth knob makes everything sound BIGGER. It adds some low end oomph, and a little gain on the top end.

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