[review] Walrus Audio Iron Horse (by LordRiffenstein)

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

Walrus Audio

The folks at Walrus Audio are building a small range of products.  Based in Oklahoma, this collective is working on a balance between art and performance in sound manipulation. Needless to say, the pedals are built by hand. Open one and you will find a high quality build, everything is neat on the inside. The enclosures are finished with very striking graphics, I love them! Besides pedal builds they also do modifications and rehouse your pedals. Check out their website!

Iron Horse

The Iron Horse has Level, Tone and Distortion controls as you would expect but it also has a little 3-way toggle switch. This lets you choose between clipping diodes and has a serious impact on the tone. Like the Voyager, this one is also nicely finished with a great graphic, the build is rock-solid!

The pedal in use

As it says on the box, this pedal delivers distortion, this is not a boost pedal nor is it an overdrive. With the distortion control all the way down, there is a small spot around 8:00 where it has a medium gain sound but from there on up its distortion all the way. So time to see what this pedal can deliver and as usual I started off with the controls at 12:00, 3-way in the middle position, plugged a humbucker guitar into the pedal and set my amp for a clean tone.  2 things you will notice, a lot of output and plenty of distortion going. Unity gain on the level control was somewhere between 9:00 and 10:00 in my setup so there's plenty more when you need it. The tone was big and ballsy with a nice grit in the mids.

I wanted to know what the 3-way switch does, there's no indication in the manual so you'll have to discover for yourself. The middle position is the loudest of the 3, it offers a good midrange bite and a fat chunk in the lows. The left-position sounds a bit smoother, the mids seem to be voiced a touch lower, the lows are still tight although they feel a bit looser than the middle position. The last position is very smooth and creamy sounding. It's also lower in output than the 2 other positions so you will need to tweak the pedal. This is no problem as the level and tone control have sufficient range.

The Distortion control will give you anything from a seventies distortion sound to all out mayhem. The amount of gain this pedal delivers is stunning, it will even get you into an over the top, fuzz-like wall of sound. Depending on your pickups, the pedal will deliver tight distortion tones until the control hits about 2:00. Even at these amounts of gain, you can get great articulation with the 3-way set in the middle.

In standard tuning, I preferred the 3-way set to the left, which allowed me to dial in the tone control a bit higher. Playing around with level, distortion and different guitars, I was able to get tones ranging from eighties hard rock to more recent metal tones. Detuning my guitars had me flick the little toggle to the middle position.  This slightly tightened up the low end and gave me a more in your face tone that evened out the lower tunings. VERY very nice indeed and a lot of fun to play with. The right setting on the 3-way had me puzzled at first but I found some great settings. With the distortion lowered a bit, the volume and tone up, my Les Paul got me some killer long-bearded-Texan-tones. I wasn't expecting that!

I do not get along with a lot of distortion pedals, but sometimes you run into one that simple delivers a bunch of stellar tones. The Iron Horse delivered a swift kick to my backside and has me re-consider distortion pedals. Or maybe not because if I am to buy one now, there's no need to look any further!

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