As in, a shootout of pedals donated by various people…not like, the community is shooting each other. Like in The Mist. Which was on the other day. And afterwards, I wished it wasn’t. What a terrible movie! And the conjured attempt at tragic irony in the end? Shameful. And Tom Jane is…uh…not good. (‘I’m Tom Jane.’ Name it, and you get one million points…towards the imaginary tally I keep up in my head for something that I don’t know.) I’m hoping this shootout will be much better.

Well, as is my custom (and it was definitely kept up in that last paragraph), I start every pedal shootout with the worst intro you’ve ever read. Don’t blame me. Blame The Mist. Hey, if they didn’t keep making these movies, I wouldn’t have anything to talk about, right? Except more U2, delay, and anti-solos…so maybe you should be glad they keep making movies with Tom Jane in them. Anyway, shootout time. And community shootout time. Three very gracious blog readers here have donated overdrive pedals to this endeavor, making this Guitar for Worship’s first ever, community shootout. And I keep saying ‘donated’ to hopefully trick them into letting me keep the pedals forever instead of shipping them back. I don’t think it’s working, though. So, we have five low gain, transparent overdrive pedals, from four different folks, myself included. And everyone has been very open and gracious, and donated (hehe) these pedals in the hopes of hearing how they compare to other drives; meaning, this wasn’t like, a contest where you submit you’re top fighter and hope to beat all the other drives. It’s just to hear how they compare. Hmm…that sounds anti-climactic. Okay! It’s a fight! Give me your top fighter, and gather around the school yard, folks! Three o’clock high!! Shootout!!


(What is it with apocalyptic thrillers and grocery stores? Tremors, Zombieland, Jumanji….yep…I said Jumanji.)

If you’re still reading, I thank you…dearly. This ended up being one of the coolest shootouts I’ve done, at least for me, because of the quality of pedals involved, and for the chance to hear some pedals that I otherwise may never have gotten around to trying out. And they all ended up excelling in their own ways, which was really cool. And I want them all.

The Players

–Creation Audio Labs Holy Fire

–Tone Monk Seed of Life

–Paul Cochrane Tim (running at 12 volts)

–Analogman King of Tone (side 1 on clean boost most of the time, side 2 on overdrive most of the time, and running at 12 volts)

–Lovepedal Eternity (1 of the 18,050 versions of this pedal…it is a PCB version, but beyond that, it just sounds good. :) )

The Gracious Community Benefactors

–Larry Plaxco
–Donator of the Seed of Life and King of Tone. You can check out his site here: Les Paul Player Doctor.

–Brian Keith
–Donator of the Eternity.

–Jeff White
–Donator of the Holy Fire. (Pedal, that is.)

The Clean Tone and Signal Path

Prairiewood Les Paul (Wolfetone Dr. V pickups at various times, bridge, neck, both, and both with the back coil-tapped)–>

(the five overdrives)–>

Matchless HC30 (EF86 channel)–>

65 Amps birch cab (Celestion Blue and G12H30; in second video, the Blue is the one mic’d)

The Format

The first video is laid out much like most of my demo and shootout videos. The second is a little different, with no talking, and the sound recorded through a dedicated mic and into a tube pre, and then my computer. I did it this way because I wanted to be sure that I did the best videos possible (well, with my current equipment), as everyone was so kind to lend their pedals.

Possible Biases

–I’ve owned the Tim for a long time, and have it set right where I like it with my amp.

–I did not get a definitive answer as to whether the Eternity or Seed of Life could be run at above 9 volts by the time I shot this video, so I played it safe and ran them at the listed 9 volts; which may have put them at a disadvantage if in fact, they can be run at higher voltages and hence, higher headroom.

Possible Personal Biases

–The Holy Fire’s led changes color according to the gain input!! Splendid.

–The Seed of Life’s blue led literally attacks your face. I haven’t decided whether this is good or bad yet.

–I’ve tried two other Lovepedal models that I really didn’t like.

–I love the Tim.

The Shootout:

The Results:

–Creation Audio Labs Holy Fire

Easily my new favorite pedal. There really sounded like there was a second parallel path of my clean tone under the drive sounds. Hate to say it, but transparent as all get-out. Also loved the extra knob to add distortion in to the sound. Just wish it could be controlled by a second switch or an expression pedal. That would be awesome! Also, best led ever. Not sure if I’m too hot on the name, and it does need its own adapter. But whoa…killer sound with this thing!

–Tone Monk Seed of Life

This one seemed to get a bad rap in the videos, because even though the website describes it as being able to do transparent low gain sounds, I think it really shines at higher gain sounds. And at higher gains, it still seems to maintain the sound of the clean tone, which is rare. It had a different flavor than most overdrives, which was refreshing. The tone-shaping switch was really useful as well. The top setting, giving it that vintage-y growl, was really cool. Again, I do wish that switch was two separate footswitches. But it did have an led that was brighter than the sun, so it’s got that going for it.

–Paul Cochrane Tim

What can I say that I haven’t said already? Not only does it keep your clean tone intact, and sound like it’s just driving the sound you already love, but it also has a great saggy feel and sound to the drive, as well as a great decay. Very touch-sensitive too…it’ll do the sound you want depending on how you play. Gotta love the Tim. Thus far, in years, no pedal has surpassed it in my rig. I always go back to it. The Holy Fire is giving it a run for its money, but in a different way. I think I will always have a Tim.

–Analogman King of Tone

Definitely a great sound. A really nice controlled drive sound that really lends itself to rhythmic tones. Not sure if it lived up to the massive amount of hype it has gotten, but really…no pedal ever has. It was very transparent, and the drive sound was focused and had a great shape to it; as in, very few errant and random frequencies, even when stacking notes. The best thing about this pedal though, is the versatility and tweakability. Both sides can be used together, or independent of each other. And each side can be switched to clean boost, overdrive, or distortion. I really didn’t even really scratch the surface in the two short videos of how many options are available with this pedal. And I don’t have any royal purple pedals yet. It’s a wonderful color.

–Lovepedal Eternity

Score! Finally a Lovepedal I like. Honestly, I really thought this pedal’s ‘happy place’ was at higher gain sounds. But yet, it still did a really good low drive sound. Very, very saturated. Seemed like it was just oozing harmonics. As a lead pedal, I think this thing is fantastic. Has that saturated, glassy lead sound that would probably glide right on top of the other frequencies in a band situation. And how do you not adore the brown sunburst…on a pedal?! Great touch.

Conclusion:

Yikes, I wish I didn’t have to give these back. And I might be getting a Holy Fire. Huge, huge thanks to Jeff, Brian, and Larry for the contributions to this. It’s incredible how many great overdrive pedals there are these days. I had resolved to be completely honest, and hate a pedal if I hated it, but they were honestly all fantastic in their own ways. If I could keep them all, I would. But that would constitute stealing.

First community shootout…over. No casualties. Just fabulous pedals. Go buy all of these.


(‘We’re going to need a bigger stick.’)

Splendid.
Karl.