[review] Catalinbread WIIO (by LordRiffenstein)

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

Catalinbread

I’m new to this company.  Had heard the name before and seen the SuperCharged OD and Dirty Little Secret on some boards but I never tried them myself. Catalinbread is based in Portland, Oregon in the good ole US of A and they build a good range of pedals from ODs and fuzzes to some modulation stuff.

WIIO

Let's not beat around the bush, this pedal is meant to give you the tone of the old Hiwatt amps. Again, the build of this pedal is top notch with an understated look, much like the amps it is mimicking. You have 4 controls, Gain and Master are obvious. Treble and Bass should also be clear but there's more to these controls than just EQ.  Working with the treble control will not only change the highs but it will also add bite and grit to the gain. The Bass control works on the low end but also has an impact on the feel of the pedal. The Gain control runs from clean to medium amounts of gain and it will also add some midrange thump as you win it up.  Master has plenty of output to boost your amp.

The pedal in use

With the WIIO, I had the same thing happen as with the Formula No5 (see my review). When I get new pedals to try, I just plug them in and see what I get out of them.  I don’t read the manual nor check the manufacturer’s website.  So again I was wrong in thinking this is an OD or boost pedal, it is more than that for sure.  So I set the old Marshall clean and basically started over.

With the gain control a little over noon and the master set for unity, I worked the Bass and Treble controls to get a feel for them.  I was able to dial in a nice top end that is not harsh sounding and it also adds some crunchiness to the gain.  With the Bass, I could balance it all out nicely.  The pedal really response well to your playing and although it is meant to put its own sonic stamp on your tone, it also lets the tone of your pickups and guitar shine through.

So I plugged into a telecaster and started to play. I have played an original 1973 Hiwatt several times and they have a very distinctive, direct and dynamic tone. And that's exactly what this pedal delivers. The tone instantly reminded me of The Who album, Live At Leeds.  It has a certain sonic texture that you can only get from a good Hiwatt. I turned the gain down and the master up and got a really sweet clean tone.  I added a chorus and delay in FRONT of the WIIO and got some great texture-tones.  Dialing in more gain, gets you a more aggressive tone that can again be tweaked nicely with the bass and treble control.  This pedal does not do high gain on its own, you need to add another pedal.  I tried one of my favorite distortion pedals, a SD9, in front of the WIIO and got some great fat rocking tones.  Switching the WIIO on and off got me 2 very different tones and feel.  Both straight into the Marshall or hitting the WIIO first sounded excellent, different but very useful tones!

The WIIO delivers that old Hiwatt tone easily and it does it at more manageable volumes.  What's not to like about that?  It sounds great on its own but plug your favorite od or fuzz pedal in front of it for more fun and more excellent tones!

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