T-Rex Engineering has been around for a lot of time, making high quality pedals and accessories that can be found on pedalboards all over the world. Although they have a vast range of pedals from delays and modulation to overdrive and distortion, they decided to release a new range of pedals a couple of years ago: Tonebugs.
The Tonebug series of pedals is bringing the T-rex quality in smaller packages, for less money. The range currently has 10 different pedals. All the pedals come in the same enclosure and have the same look: 2-3 dials and some little switches depending on the model. I also gotta give props to T-rex for shipping the pedals in a nice box, it makes the pedals a bit more special.
All the Tonebug pedals come in a nice metal enclosure, with curved edges and it feels pretty sturdy.
The Totenschlager is the odd one in the bunch as it has different lettering. To make its appearance a bit metal, they opted for a gothic font on a black enclosure (the others have rather funky colors). The controls are set on a brushed metal background and are easy to see on dim-lit stages. There’s the obvious input and output and an input for a power supply (9v DC). You can also use battery power, via the compartment that’s easily accessed in the bottom of the pedal.The 3 EQ-sliders feel a bit flimsy but they are protected by the 2 bigger controls from clumsy feet and they work fine.
The pedal in use
The Toneschlager is pretty clear about its intentions, this is not a pedal for the blues-players, this pedal means business, hard rocking business. There’s a BIG amount of gain available and plenty of output to get you a wide range of rock tones. Even with the gain set low, you are already into classic rock territory, think AC/DC. With humbuckers, you get some really nice classic rock tones by keeping the gain at 9:00. Although the pedal has plenty of output, using it as a boost is not its forte. It wants to rock hard and it definitely pulls it off!
At 1st, I was having problems dialing in the EQ. The 3 sliders work well but they aren’t the best for fine-tuning. However, I got the hang of it after a while and was able to make little adjustments when needed. The range of each slider is pretty big and so they need to be balanced carefully. The mid-slider in particular is VERY powerful but I think that is a good thing.
My testing was done with a selection of guitars using an old Marshall head and 4x12. I kept the amp clean, just a touch of break up with high output humbuckers. The Totenschlager really worked well with this setup. The powerful EQ came in handy to get all sorts of tones. I don’t prefer the scooped-mids metal tones but they can be easily had, with the gain around noon, you can get very nice hardrock tones with plenty of mids and high-end crunch to sit well in a mix. Turn up the gain more and you are into serious metal tones. I must add that the EQ worked well, even with the gain high and the low end in particular stayed tight. Max out the gain and you have an insane amount but again the EQ proved to be able to retain clarity. My favorite setting was with the gain control set about 12:00, the output control set just above unity gain. This got me a big fat hardrock tone. I then hit the pedal with the ToneBug Sustainer (see my review) for lead tones and it sounded glorious.
Did T-Rex pull of the job of bringing their well known quality to the masses for a lower price? Yes, they did, this pedal surprised me. It looks great, it feels solid, the price is right and most important, it sounds awesome!
- More info: T-Rex ToneBug Totenschläger