[review] Bearfoot FX Model H (by LordRiffenstein)

LordRiffenstein, all-around tone freak and purveyor of great tone.

Bearfoot FX

BearFoot is a collaboration between BJFelectronics and DonnerBox to produce some of Bjorn Juhls best designs. These guys really need no introduction, Bjorn Juhl has been building amazing pedals for years and Donnerbox has been around for a long time creating funky boxes. The news of these guys teaming up to recreate the amazing BJFE pedals, at a lower price and in bigger numbers, got the anticipation levels of many pedal lovers WAY up. I am looking at the first pedals they recreated. Check out the reviews of the Dyna Red Distortion, Honey Bee OD and Mint Green Mini Vibe! All BearFoot products are designed by Bjorn and produced by Donnerbox in the USA.

Model H

If I were to judge this pedal only by its looks, I would absolutely love it. The blue ‘n’ black paintjob reminds me a lot of the schmear paintjobs of my favorite guitars by James Tyler. But let’s look at the controls! Again we have volume and drive and an interesting 3rd control that is not only an EQ control. It also changes the head room and the feel of the pedal. Like the Dyna Red, this pedal can be run at alternative voltages, anything between 8v and 12v works!

The pedal in use

The description on the Bearfoot FX website tells me that the Model H is delivering Hiwatt tones, pissed of Hiwatt tones. Having played some old Hiwatts throughout the years, I would say that they are best known for their amazing clean and low gain tones. So when I started testing the model H with Vol and Drive about halfway, I was in for a surprise. I wasn’t expecting this amount of gain from a Hiwatt-inspired pedal! I found a very good impression of the Hiwatt crunch at lower settings of the Drive control. This is a crunch with a specific feel and it’s hard to describe but the Model H does come really really close. Play it thru a loud amp and you’d fool anybody. All the dynamics are there as well and just as the amp, the pedal reacts really well on being driven with other pedals. Put a boost in front of it for more fun and gain! I tried different guitars and got very good results with all of them.

So I went back to my 1st setting as what I initially heard had peaked my interest. Turning the drive control up above 11:00 will get you into unknown territory as no Hiwatt I have played ever had this amount of gain. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not metal-gain but just a great rock tone. The tones I discovered with the gain around and above noon were simply stunning. I wasn’t expecting this but I simply could not stop playing and I found some stellar rock tones. Think early Black Crowes tones, crunchy smooth tones that breathe and have a lot of dynamics. Between a Tele and a LP, all sorts of great tones will become available as the Model H, like the other Bearfoot FX pedals, cleans up really nicely.  I ended up having the Drive just above noon, the volume just above unity gain (about 11:00) and the EQ to taste. The pedal on its own got me great rhythm tones, a simple booster in front was all I needed for big fat lead tones.

Surprisingly, the Model H was the highlight for me out of the 4 Bearfoot FX pedals I got to try. I got way more out of this pedal then I was expecting. The Hiwatt-crunch is there but the tones beyond that are what sets this pedal apart. I absolutely loved every minute I was plugged into it and I hate not being allowed to keep it!

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