VDL Professional Analogics ACE Hot Bird



After months of top secret experimentation in a workshop in Italy, VDL Analogics in conjunction with Ace from Skunk Anansie have created something really special to stomp on... Now unveiled and soon to be available to the general public comes the 'Hot Bird' Distortion, Drive and Fuzz!

An all singing, all dancing powerhouse of infinite tones, the Hot Bird fulfils many desires of the tone hungry guitarist, from warm rich subtle drives to fat over the top filthy fuzz.

There's knobs galore and switches to create loads of really awesome custom and uniquely personal sounds with many variations of overdrive, distortion and retro fuzz. The 'Hot Bird' boasts and all analogue circuitry and custom boutique etched housing which makes it a sound and design classic from the off.

After much research and experiment of drive and fuzz units, Ace honed in on what made the ultimate drive and tone, rich in harmonics to suit his acclaimed live and recording guitar sound.

At a chance meeting on tour he was introduced to Valerio Di Loreto of custom analogue studio gear makers VDL. Valerio also made pedals and the friendship was sealed.

They worked together for months on the requirements of the sounds the 'Hot Bird' was to produce and the artwork of the casing that was to represent it.

Ace says, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. "Don't just let me rattle on like a spod telling you how much I love it and how it's going to change your life. Plug it in, on step on it and experience it for yourself. I'm sure you won't be disappointed."

On the left hand side we have the Ear Bender, a fully fledged analogue retro fuzz pedal producing gnarly rich fuzz tones reminiscent of the 60's and 70's Solasound and Electro Harmonix boxes that we still hail back to today for their sounds and inspiration. The new added ingredient in this equation though is a feature called 'Cream', a variable compression setting to add to the mix that can introduce another level of thickness and rebellious flavour.

On the right hand side we move over to the Afterburner, a more complex tone shaping distortion and overdrive circuit. All analogue as with the Ear Bender, the Afterburner is simple and intuitive to use, but has a lot more going on under the hood. It has more options for variation from subtlety to unruly extremes.

It can be used as a simple distortion pedal on a clean setting to create a warm and authentic amp tone, to a hot feisty overdriver on already driven amps.

As well as the usual suspects of EQ and drives we all know and love on the control panel, it has some juicy well tested and thought out added extras. There's a 3 stage variable clipping feature that can shift from boutique to modern gain characteristics of the overall drive/distortion sound, as well as a bass lift/boost that can put the weight back into your sound that overdrives can strip out in their processing.

As well as these, there is the personal requirement form Ace himself of the mid boost feature that was developed for the rare 70's Super Tube Screamer which is integral to a focussed and wide guitar sound that always cuts through the mix, live or in the studio.

When used on a driven valve map, the Afterburner really can create incredible organic and hot tones, rich in harmonics with authentic analogue overtones and artifacts. Use your ears, dial up your sound and away you go. You are guaranteed to feel excited and inspired by the sounds you can produce with your own fine tuning.

Ace believes that for him, it's the best fuzz and drive pedal ever developed. It may not be for everyone's tastes, but he thinks the flavour will please many musical tongues...

He says "It's Honest, Authentic and sounds Awesome. I feel it's the Rolls Royce of FX pedals. I think that just about sums it up."

There you go! All the sounds you need in one box, that also looks great with its unique silver custom etching. It's not a cheap product and has expensive manufacturing process. But hand built by masters to premium specifications you get what you pay for from quality to exclusivity.

What happens if you step on both together? Well what do you think? It just starts to get ridiculous. What did you expect me to say...          

The "Afterburner" is Inspired by the historical saturations of english amplifiers.

It can reproduce three different final valve stages, from which it is possible to obtain different distortion kinds:

  • green light > strong and symmetrical clipping, the thickest of the three, fast and rich in harmonics.

  • blue light > asymmetrical clipping which reproduces a final decoupled valve stage (a secret trick of some guitarists) adding more even harmonics, for an open and aggressive distortion at the same time.

  • amber light > soft symmetrical clipping, for a particularly impressive distortion with a noticeable volume increase compared to other clipping, and extremely dynamic from which it is possible to obtain overdrive sounds.

VINTAGE/MODERN SWITCH > You can choose between two completely different characters . The signal path, in the circuit, changes completely the way to clip the sound, the frequency response and the dynamic. In the vintage mode we have a classic and refined timbre with silky high frequencies and mellow saturation, while the “modern” position makes the most rude and massive distortion, a real slap sound.

BASS RESPONSE > For an higher versatility, a circuit activated with a switch increases the response of the low frequencies (+5db @200hz) without changing the rest of the sonic spectrum. (it works only in the “vintage” mode)

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