The best guitar pedal you will ever use!
updated pruduction run 2014
Price - $350 USD;
plus $10 shipping USA and Canada - or - $20 shipping internationally, world wide
first production run 2012
Its finally here. The new Zachary pedal and its called the Tone Lube. As I proceed to insult a few people as usual, I will present this in a somewhat different manner.
I was trying to figure out how to best introduce and describe the Tone Lube when I came upon a new overdrive pedal made as part of a major line from a major global signal processing corporation. They are part of and comprise “Big Guitar”, as I call it and engage in the nasty exercise of "Global Manufacturing", which is just a progressive talk for Made in China crap. Mass produced at very low cost to bring in maximum profits? If you are not taking Chinese lessons yet, you better sign up as soon as possible. Your future masters will demand it and will "educate" you by force and it will not be fun, you can bet on it.
I was reading their text, describing their new Chinese distortion pedal, which they released as part of a new series of other pedals in their line. I hear some of their digital delays are good but digital processors are a whole other ball game; stick the right digital processor in there and it repeats, choruses, modulates, emulates or whatever. Analog distortion is a different matter altogether and much more difficult to crack. You cannot just stick the latest digital chip in there and be done with it. Analog is what separates the posers from the talented. This is what differentiates the China stuff from the Z stuff.
As I was reading their promotional text for their pedal, I was shocked and got this aerie feeling that they were describing my own Tone Lube. The description they gave their overdrive pedal was exactly what I was just about to write about my own Tone Lube. Its like they took the words out of my mouth and my brain. I thought for sure they must have copied the Zachary Tone Lube even before it was released. How could that be? Freak me out. These Chicoms are now not only genetically engineering humans but also reading minds.
Here is their description of their corporate product I ran across. I will call it "Corporate Overdrive".
Corporate Overdrive is the overdrive pedal that will breathe life, magic and that certain something into your sound, making your playing stand out. Guitarists everywhere are always looking for that little extra push over the cliff, a touch of magic to their sound that gives just that extra bit of bite, body and tone. Corporate Overdrive will give you that flash of perfection every time you engage it, providing a crisp and clear overdrive with a rock-solid bottom end.
A sweet blues lead, an extra chunky rhythm tone or a soaring solo, it's all there - and then some. Corporate Overdrive is equipped with separate bass and treble controls and a bass-response voice toggle that prevents your bass frequencies from ever disappearing when you step on the pedal. For maximum mojo, Corporate Overdrive features true bypass, an easy-access battery hatch, a small footprint and the highest-grade components.
Designing Corporate Overdrive was both very simple and very complex. We knew what we wanted from the start: A pedal that sounds like an amp, a very open character and little compression. We wanted the pedal to be alive, have an attitude and pick up on the subtleties of your playing in a dynamic way. To add to the challenge, we didn't go for the sound of any old amp, Corporate Overdrive needed to give you that sweet, glassy and purely musical cranked tweed sound. We basically set out to capture lightning in a bottle with a clarity that even allowed for complex chords to stand out. We wanted to deliver the magic, spine-shivering feeling of an amplifier working hard and delivering pure valve tone with True Bypass, for zero loss of tone.
Also, we recognized that adding an overdrive isn't simple for tone-conscious guitarists. Anyone can slam a pedal onto their board and hope for the best, but we know what it's like to spend countless hours sculpting your own sound. And when adding an overdrive, the last thing you want is for the tone to change. We set out to deliver a pedal that adds new stages of crunch, but leaves your tone alone, just like a great overdrive pedal should. In other words, Corporate Overdrive is like adding another channel to your amp and it will sound like it always belonged there.
So far for the simple part. The complex part came in designing the pedal. We are excited to say we solved the puzzle, and that the result is simply astounding.
Ride the lightning
One of the reasons why we've achieved such a dynamic pedal is the fact that we use a special circuit that ramps up the voltage to more than 3-4 times the amount of your typical drive pedals. However, we don't use this added gain to squeeze more overdrive/distortion out of the pedal, but to dramatically increase the headroom and dynamics.
The result? The most alive overdrive you have ever heard, a pedal that defines all that is magic about overdriven sounds and a pedal that responds to your playing in dynamic and ultra-musical ways. It cleans up when you want it to and when you really dig in, Corporate Overdrive is right there with you. The word ‘pedal' doesn't even begin to describe this little box of wonder, it needs to be tried to be believed.
You can imagine that after reading this I said OMG, they are talking about my Tone Lube. They must have ripped me off, their description absolutely nails the Tone Lube its so accurate. So I actually bought one of these Corporate Overdrives. I thought that if this description is accurate and they did achieve what they claim, I am totally screwed and there is no need for my Tone Lube at all; they beat me to it and its already been done. They would have already created it and all my work and investment was for nothing. This thought was quite disturbing because we had worked on the Tone Lube so hard for so long and my design was pretty well completed by this time. So, was it all for nothing?
When I received the corporate pedal, I tried it out and was pleasantly consoled as soon as I plugged it in. It was a pedal I had heard a million times before and it was like a filter was placed over my guitar tone. It colored and actually degraded my guitar sound. Like sticking a rag into the mouth of a singer. I knew that was the case because I had set a nice sound on my Skank amp and then turning the Corporate Pedal on I would rather listen to the Skank by itself and not the Corporate Overdrive. This is a sign of instant failure when it comes to any pedal. A good way to judge any distortion/OD pedal is to ask yourself if your tone is improved by it or not. Just switch any pedal on and off in your signal chain. First adjust your amp for the best, moderately overdriven tone and then set up any pedal also at moderate setting and see if it improves or if it degrades your sound. Just use your ears. If it improves your tone then you will want to keep this pedal in your signal chain, all the time, since it makes your amp sound even better than your amp alone. This is always the only test for you to perform and a real achievement and what any pedal designer should strive for. Its only logical. If it degrades your tone, you should only keep it for the purpose of some cheesy and occasional sound effect at best or not use it at all. Why would you use it if it makes sound like crap? You certainly don’t need a pedal to make you sound worse. In the case of this Corporate Pedal, I did not use it much because I did not want it to degrade my tone. You know within seconds or minutes at the most if a pedal is good or not. You just have to use your ears and the feel it translates to your playing. Come on, let’s be honest, its like looking at a woman. All you really need is a glance at her and your instincts will tell you if you want to hold her hand or not. Not to be exclusionary, it works with the same gender also if you happen to be gay.
To sum it up, there was nothing remarkable about this corporate pedal and it actually degraded my tone. I would be embarrassed to released such a mediocre and generic product. Its voicing switch really does nothing either. I was not impressed but I was relieved. I will not be occupying this corporate pedal, instead I would much rather take the Tone Lube to the Tea Party.
For those who are not experienced players, if you have not played many pedals and are not knowledgeable about tone, the Corporate Pedal will not be judged by you according to the same criteria that I would judge it by. As with everything else, those who control distribution, will control your purchasing choice. Corporate Pedal should do very well based on number of units sold. However, for those with ears and those who truly know pedals and tone, you will immediately notice that it does not live up to the Tone Lube description, even though their promotional text is very inspirational, it describes the Zachary Tone Lube, NOT their Corporate Pedal, which is already endorsed by numerous sleazy performers who I understand need to pay their rent. Such is the current state of the music industry. Long gone are the days when a Hendrix and the like would pick any piece of equipment, obscure or not for the single purpose of how much they liked it and what it offered their own unique playing. With endorsements all they do is deceive you and treat you like idiots. The stupider they keep you the more product they sell you. Its the complete opposite at Zachary Guitars.
What exactly is the Tone Lube?
It is all the things you read above, falsely describing the Corporate Overdrive. The Tone Lube is all that and more, with a few differences.
The Tone Lube is s a solid state device, but one which sounds totally tube. It is not just a distortion or overdrive pedal. Its more of a preamp; an extra channel. So the first thing the signal from your pickups do is enter the Tone Lube, where the natural tone of your guitar is amplified, massaged or LUBED by the Tone Lube preamp before it enters your guitar amp. The result is that a much stronger signal enters your amp, compared to just plugging straight into your amp without the Tone Lube. The Tone Lube messages (lubes) your signal first, making your amp virtually inconsequential, other than power amplification. You will hit your amp with a much bigger signal, as if your pickups were on steroids. I can even go further and suggest that the Tone Lube virtually makes your guitar amp distortion nonessential and unnecessary. Your amp need only to be used as a power-amp, basically amplifying the signal coming from the Tone Lube. Or you can blend the Tone Lube with your amp's own natural overdrive. You can experiment to find your own mix and sound.
You need some kind of a power-amp of course to get sufficient overall volume but with the Tone Lube you don’t really need an amp for overdrive or tone generation. Plug the Tone Lube into the most sterile, lifeless amp and you will still get great sound. The Tone Lube sculpts your tone even before it enters your guitar amp. The Tone Lube takes care of your tone generation. In fact the Tone Lube was tested with transistor amps and it made them sound great also. The Tone Lube takes whatever signal your pickups are giving it and simply amplifies it with its naturally resulting overdrive, without coloring it and without putting a condom over your tone either. It takes the natural sound of your instrument and naturally lets it do what it wants as it goes through the Tone Lube circuit, overdriving it accordingly.
You have seen ads by a certain boutique amp company which reads "The Pedal Killer", well then in reverse the Tone Lube is the "Amp Killer". Join the Amp Killing Tone Lube with a Pedal Killer Amp and what do you get? I am certain you will get the best tone you ever heard. Unless of course you are a snot nose kid with a nipple ring at a skateboard park, who just bought a Chinese 8 string guitar for $199 and wants to scare people with demonic riffs of muddy horrible noise resulting from atrociously unbalanced under-tensioned strings. Don't get me started, that's a different discussion for a different time. From Clapton to Crapton in one generation. What a shameful regression in culture, knowledge and talent. Enough to get you totally depressed if you are anyone over the age of 30. I hope baby boomers live forever, just to keep traditional guitar playing alive, otherwise real guitar players are an endangered species with a disappearing habitat.
We truly used the best audiophile components in the Tone Lube. No expense was spared. Expense was of no concern, so its like the preamp in a high-end stereo system. The same Op-amps and Diodes used in audio preamps are used in the Tone Lube. Remember everything I make is for me, so you know it will be good. Cost is never a factor. When you make a small production, niche product, the cost is of no concern. It does not matter if a part will cost $3 or $9. I can use the most expensive parts. However for the mass producers a $3 component is already prohibitively expensive and they go to a 50¢ part to meet a particular price segment and reach their target market. They already know that their target market is inexperienced, casual dabblers who don't know the difference anyway. When you make something in the hundreds of thousands of units then every penny counts and adds up greatly, so the cost must be kept as low as possible. For me, I don't care how expensive the pedal ends up costing me, as long as I know its the best. I will sell it direct anyway and retail stores are worthless to me.
You should and it is advised that you use the Tone Lube with a nice tube amp of your choice, which may also be warmly overdriven, interacting with the Tone Lube. You will most likely use the Tone Lube with your Tube amp, however you will find that the great tone of your favorite amp is less appealing without the Tone Lube and more appealing with the Tone Lube in your signal chain, even if the Tone Lube is at a mild gain setting, which is sufficient most of the time. Just a touch of lube will do you.
Why call it "Tone Lube"
You will quickly realize how much you need this pedal. You will also realize how anemic and unmusical your amp is by itself, no matter how good your amp is, or how good you may have thought it was. The Tone Lube, as the name implies, will constantly "lube" your tone. Meaning its something which can and should and most likely will stay on in your signal path at all times, regarding what or where you play. The Tone Lube, unlike a Distortion or Overdrive pedal, will not be a sound effect, rather it will be an integral part of your sound. It will become a part of your amp circuit. Like an add-on to your amp. The part of the circuit that your amp manufacturer forgot to include. The feature and the quality of your amp which was missing and you never knew it until now. You cannot say this about any Distortion or Overdrive pedal. If you are familiar with the Ibanez Tube Screamer, don't even get me started on that crap. It is just an atrocity of muddy, low fidelity, muffled, dull noise, add a conventional string set to that and you have just been named the court jester and are nothing more than a laughing stock. The Tone Lube is a whole other world. Calling it an overdrive pedal is like calling intricate surgery a sloppy knife attack.
What was it that I wanted to achieve?
I wanted to create not so much a distortion/OD pedal but rather a little amp, or more specifically a preamp, which when used in conjunction with a power amp, will enhance your tone to such an extent that it will have to be become an integral part of your sound. I wanted a pedal which would make your own favorite and cherished tube amp sound noticeably better with the Tone Lube, than it actually is. I wanted some dummy like John Meyer, who spends 20K+ on an amp to use the Tone Lube to make that amp sound a lot better. He will of course keep it a secret and not tell anyone due to embarrassment and also to gain an advantage over others, such as Keith Urban and Brent Mason. So much for word of mouth advertising. What the Tone Lube does is exactly what the name implies; it Lubes your tone and you don't want to do anything without lube, not even if you are John Meyer.
So now you may be getting the idea that the Tone Lube is some kind of an enhancer device, a filter or an EQ of some kind. You couldn't be more mistaken. It is none of those things. It is as if you had taken a great preamp, plugged your guitar into this preamp first and then have only this sweet signal enter your actually guitar amp. Its like having an audiophile preamp added to your guitar amp.
Tremendous Gain, as in Volume (not distortion)
I said Gain (NOT distortion). The Tone Lube can get to be quite a heavy sounding pedal but it is not meant to melt your face with hardcore shredding sounds. It is a natural sounding pedal. It is not even a simple distortion or overdrive. Its a preamp circuit, which naturally gives you overdrive not as a specific goal but as a byproduct (same as a tube amp circuit). It does give you distortion and overdrive as a natural response to your signal strength but only to the extent that vintage tube amp would as you gradually turn it up.
The Tone Lube however puts out tremendous amount of volume (as in signal strength), more than any other pedal you would have played. I am not kidding about this. The Tone Lube will make your amp much louder than it is because you are multiplying its amplification ability. You are in effect adding a preamp to it. Therefore, a small amp such as the 8W Skank will become the equivalent of a 30W or larger raging inferno. You will appreciate this not in your bedroom but in a live setting, when playing with a drummer and in a band situation. Or you can take the high signal strength of the Tone Lube and use it to overdrive your non-master volume Marshall or similar vintage amp, the same way as Malmsteen has done his entire life. Like I said, it is an analog preamp in itself. If the high volume of the Tone Lube is still not enough for you, then just step on the boost switch and get another very noticeable 10dB of boost. Watch you ears.
If you are looking for a "melt your face" cheesy digital death metal distortion for your new made-in-China 8-string guitar, with horrendously tension imbalanced and under-tensioned strings with the muddiest sound ever; this is not the pedal for you. Sorry. Actually, what you really need to do first is put some records on a turn table and learn how to play the guitar, before you do anything. This pedal does not give you unlimited distortion but it can if you turn up both the Level and the Gain and as it also interacts with the natural overdrive of your tube amp. It is not simply designed to be a heavy metal pedal, that would be too easy. It will not give you the current digital guitar sounds either (God forbid), which you hear on all latest over processed and overproduced artificial recordings. What a nightmare. Rather think Jimmy Page, Blackmore, Hendrix, Clapton, and most of the natural guitar tones from the late 60s and 70s all the way in doing Van Halen 1, the golden years of the guitar; pre-digital era. Don’t even think of it as a distortion or an overdrive pedal. Again, think of it as a preamp which will overdrive naturally.
I mentioned tremendous amount of gain from the Tone Lube. This means the volume of the Tone Lube is louder than you have ever heard from any other pedal. What this gives you, is the opportunity to use the tone lube to hit the gain section of your guitar amp with a very large signal. Any vintage style non-master volume tube amp will not distort unless you really turn it up loud, even then you will not get the "Van Halen 1" type of distortion, unless you hit it with a big signal to start with. Many of the 80s rockers or current rockers who are essentially 80s guitar players, like Zach Wilde and Malmsteen and some of the older guys who have not switched over to playing their smart phones instead, use an Overdrive or Boost pedal, turning down the distortion and turning up its volume, just so they can hit their Marshalls or other vintage-style amps with a bigger signal than which normally comes from their pickups. Many throughout the 80s and 90s used preamp type pedals for the same purpose, to overdrive their single channel stacks. This is the sound you heard in your youth if you are over 40. This is what the Tone Lube will do in spades. It is loud and can hit your amp with a lot of gain but only if you want it of course. You can still play it in the bedroom at lower volume and lower overdrive levels. A great all around warm blues overdrive level, which is so versatile of a sound for all genres of playing and what I use 90% of the time for my own playing.
10 dB boost switch
Is the volume and overdrive still not enough for you? There is a 10 dB boost switch. This will make the Tone Lube even louder and over the top.
To repeat, the Tone Lube does not increase its overdrive unless you also increase its volume, just like a non-master volume tube amp. The two controls are not independent of each other as you would find on a conventional overdrive or distortion pedal. The two controls are interactive and basically are one in the same. You experiment with setting them and see what you get. The boost function not only will give you more volume but also more overdrive. Much of the behavior of the Tone Lube is unique and not like the conventional pedals you may be familiar with and what was marketed to you in the past.
Simplicity and interactivity
I wanted to eliminate as many controls as possible. In many ways I hate the digital age because it goes against my love of simplicity. I want to be a player and not a computer programmer. Fiddling with knobs or even worse, menus, kills the mood for me immediately and I don't feel like playing. You don't want to get anything in the way of your playing and spontaneity, whenever the urge strikes you. Its very much like sex. So I don't like setting things and wasting time fiddling with knobs. I envisioned a musical box which will get a good sound immediately upon engaging it. I don't even like to see knobs, they turn me off. So I wanted to eliminate as many knobs as possible. I specifically specified that I wanted this box to be designed to function at full tonal settings and if that is the case there is no need for any tone knobs. I wanted its tone to be perfect, without having to set it. I originally wanted only one knob on it. If you can imagine that; one knob. Essentially this is what I did, there are two knobs on it but they function as one knob. How could this be you ask?
To repeat myself, the knobs are interactive, essentially doing the same function, split between two knobs such as the Tweed Fender Deluxe amp. As with a vintage tube amp, you cannot overdrive it without turning up the volume. So to get maximum overdrive you must turn up both knobs; Level and Gain both and to go over the top then step on the boost switch also. The cool think is that you can also get infinite combination of Level and Gain settings as you experiment with the position of these two knobs, which are totally interactive and marked Level and Gain. Once you find your sweet spot, then you leave it there and that is your sound. No more touching the knobs.
Level and Gain are one in the same, as they are interactive
The Tone Lube may seem different to use at first for the uninitiated. As I mentioned, just as some coveted Fender Tweed amps from the 50s, the Tone Lube Level and Gain controls are interactive. So turning up one knob and the other down will essentially give you the same effect if the knobs are reversed vice versa. Also, as with a vintage tube amp, you cannot get Overdrive without also increasing the Volume. As the Overdrive increases, so does the Volume and vice versa. No pot setting combination is the same but similar. So you have to set the pedal by feel and by using your ears. Turning up Level will give you the same desired Overdrive as will turning up the Gain. Turning up one and the other down will give you moderate overdrive and turning up both will give you maximum Overdrive. Its essentially one knob split into two.
Zero means Bypass
Another uniquely innovative and practical feature is that the Tone Lube signal cannot be turned down to Zero Volume (silence) as with other pedals. In fact you can never get silence from the Tone Lube, you can only get Bypassed dry signal. If you turn the Level knob right down it will give you the Bypassed dry signal, no Tone Lube circuit, as if you stomped on it and turned the unit right off. So when Level is turned all the way down, you only get the dry un-effected signal Bypassing the Tone Lube. What you hear then is only what your guitar amp is giving you.
This is what is meant by the original signal always being fed through the Tone Lube. You always hear the original dry signal, which is then mixed by your chosen mix level of Tone Lube signal. Your sound is always a mixture of dry and Tone Lube signals. Very unique in that the original dry signal is always fed throughout the circuit and is mixed with the wet signal, which is bypassed out either by the switch or by turning Level down all the way. So when you turn the Level knob down all the way, you only hear your dry signal unaffected by the Tone Lube circuit.
Turning the Level all the way down, you remove the signal from the circuit of the Tone Lube. Therefore Level all the way down is equal to turning the pedal off and hearing only what your amp is giving you. As you turn up the Level, you also turn up the Volume of the Tone Lube and also its overdrive intensity on your signal, just like any good preamp. The overdrive response and capability of the Ton Lube is inseparable form its volume. Just like with a vintage amp. As your Level is turned up and as your volume goes up, so does your overdrive. When you turn up the Level knob in conjunction with the Gain knob you arrive at the specific volume/overdrive setting that you desire for your own individual sound, playing style, music genre, in terms of volume/distortion mix.
No Tone controls?
You don't need them. There are no tone knobs to worry about. The Tone Lube tone section is always running on full. You can adjust your overall tone at the guitar amp if you really need to. The Tone Lube was designed to be used with both the usual bass and treble settings set on full. Working full on. We don't want anything working only partially here. The Tone Lube was designed to run its tone section at 100%. You will get the best sound this way. In some circuits, setting the tone section at less than full will only diminish its effectiveness on the overall sound of the unit. Don't worry, the Tone Lube is very balanced tonally in terms of highs and lows, so there is no need for any tone knobs to fiddle with. The EQ pickups and of amps may vary and some will be brighter or darker, you will rarely need to but simply set the tone at your amp. However, internally we did put two little trim pots, one for Bass and one for Treble, which you are only to touch when you have a special extreme circumstance such as bad EQ from your main amp, overly dark or bright pickups and other strange things, or if the devil puts a gun to your head. Forget the trim pots are even there. No reason to monkey with anything.
I once got a reissue WahWah pedal and noticed that once the pedal was off but still in my effects chain, it removed all the highs from my tone and made my guitar sound dull and lifeless as if I was playing a PRS. I then rewired it and made it true bypass and it became a great Wah with no signal loss. I also bought a vintage reissue phaser and it was also horrible without true bypass, killing my tone when it was off, so I sent it back. The moral of the story is that you must have true bypass and your worries are over. It gives you even more opportunity to forget you even have a pedal in your signal chain. Isn't that the way it should be? A good pedal should be undetectable.
Does Not run on batteries
For someone to want to bother with batteries, you are either suffering from serious neurosis or your name is Eric Johnson (one in the same). If I were you, I would stay away from the latest Batman movie altogether. Unfortunately for him, Eric Johnson will not be able to use the Tone Lube because he cannot use it with his collection of rare vintage New Old Stock 9V batteries, which are highly prized and collectable these days in certain circles. Sorry Eric and I don’t even have a high definition cable to sell you. Take your medication instead.
I placed the 9V power supply jack in the front center to make it conveniently accessible with your daisy chain cord. I hate it when a pedal has this power jack on the side.
You be the Judge
Ultimately you will have to make of the Tone Lube what you want to make of it. You can make it whatever you want it to be. Experiment a bit and in a short time you will make it an integral part of your sound. Users will eventually define it and discover nuances in application.
In a nutshell
Uses highest quality audio components throughout the entire signal path.
Very unique in that the original dry signal is always fed throughout the circuit and is mixed with the wet signal, which is bypassed out either by the switch or by turning Level down all the way.
Maintains the perfect mix of DRY vs WET signals, as determined and set by the player.
Retains your guitar’s true tone, even at high gain. As transparent as you can get.
Simulates the behavior of vintage tube amplifiers.
Authentic tube-like overdrive sound
Very high output levels possible – great for practice with a band and the stage
Innovative BOOST feature considerably increases your final output signal with just stepping on a switch
Doubles as a dry Volume Boost pedal: turn LEVEL down to zero & hit BOOST
Highly interactive GAIN and LEVEL controls. These are NOT independent controls as found on all other pedals.
TRUE BYPASS switching
Level control turned down all the way doubles as bypass. Level does not turn down to silence but to bypassed signal of your amp volume and drive. Level control only removes the Tone Lube effected signal, not your bypassed dry signal.
LED indicators for BYPASS and BOOST switches
Input Power: 9V-DC (negative tip) through power supply only, no battery capability
Made in USA - including the circuit board and completely hand assembled entirely by only legal American citizens on American soil. No third world child slave labor has touched this pedal.
Sounds funny and extreme but an anomaly these days and sadly no longer aspired to. Everyone's vote counts in liberal America. Still got your job?
Price - $350 USD;
plus $10 shipping USA and Canada. $20 shipping internationally, world wide
Update August 3, 2012
All the information above was written based on the Tone Lube version 1.0 with a 2-layer circuit board. This was a prototype that I had been using for several months prior to August 2012. After what I thought would be a few minor changes and fine tuning for the finalized production model we ended up with a much refined unit. I received the first production run on August 1, 2012. I found that the mods I requested and suggested resulted in a considerable transformation of the pedal. The tone was kept identical but the pedal became even more clear and more defined, which I didn't think it could be possible from how defined it was before. The circuit board was redesigned to a 4-layer board, which isolates components in the circuit and gives the tone even more clarity and definition. I have not heard of any guitar pedal using a 4-layer circuit board.
The Gain and Level knobs were also repositioned within the circuit, giving them much more versatility and usability along their entire sweep. To my ears the pedal has become somewhat brighter also, again, that would be the result of highs not being attenuated by a 2-layer board. Overall volume to my ears has gone down just a bit. Its still a very loud pedal and its actually more practical being a bit less loud overall. The internal construction and design is impeccable, using ribbon cable throughout and using circuit connection boards on the pots and switches also, which makes for a much more solid design. The input and output jacks were simplified using conventional Switchcraft guitar jacks, which are not attached to the board preventing any malfunctions and easy replaced. I was immediately very impressed by the final version of this pedal in both design, construction and most importantly Tone. As soon as I plugged it in I knew we nailed it. I know that this is the best pedal I have ever played and the best you will ever play.
The brother of my electronics partner bought one immediately prior to me even seeing or hearing the first production run. Upon receiving this first production run and using it for only a short time, I called my electronics partner and told him, that if people don't go nuts over this pedal I will have no explanation for the deficiencies of the human psyche. As simple as that.
Additional Commentary and Information on the Tone Lube - Answers to inquiries I have received.
The Tone Lube is a preamp and will literally make your guitar amp sort of irrelevant. The Tone Lube is designed to be on all the time at various degrees. Putting MXT rubber sleeves on the knobs will enable you to control the knobs with your feet for live stage settings and vary its interactive Level and Gain knobs. The hallmark of this pedal is that it does not touch the natural tone of your instrument. It just acts as a transparent hifi audio preamp, using your guitar amp as a power amp only to amplify the Tone Lube signal. Its an amp killer. Use it with any little crappy sterile tube amp made in China and you will get a million dollar tone out of it with the Tone Lube. So your amp is non essential when using the Tone Lube. The Tone Lube will be sending your base tone, not your amp.
I have a Mesa Boogie Mark V. Do you think that the Tone Lube pedal will work well with this amp? Yes, I am ready to purchase. Bruce
As I understand it, the Mk V is an amp capable of every magnitude of distortion from clean to meltdown. I am not sure why you would need the Tone Lube. Well, I would use the Tone Lube instead of the MK V’s capabilities but that is me. I am sure you did not spend so much on such a capable amp to make it redundant.
The Tone Lube is a amp destroyer, which means that you don’t really need an amp with the Tone Lube, only a power amp. The Tone Lube is an amp channel in itself. Its a preamp, which gives you your base tonality. What you would need to do is basically eliminate your amps capabilities and put in on clean or almost clean and use the Tone Lube to highlight your guitar tone, not the amp.
The Tone Lube is not a distortion pedal but then again, why would you even want a distortion pedal with the Mk V?
The Tone Lube will work very well with any amp but only if you basically eliminate your amp or at least use your amp in a limited way in terms of overdrive to interact with the Tone Lube. I hope this helps. Alex
Customer Review #1 August 31, 2012 Tony is essentially the first Tone Lube Owner. Here is what he has to say.
Ok, the pedal came Monday and I have had a few decent sessions with it. I plugged my Zachary Z2 (P90's) straight into the Skank amp with a GL cable and dialed up my favorite clean tone (Gain 12:00 - Tone 3:00 and Master 2:00 - Mood switch on Soft). This is a very warm tone and comfortable volume for practicing, on the verge of breaking up. I then played a few open chords, got the sound in my head and quickly un-plugged. Plugged in the Tone Lube (disengaged) and played the same open chords. No changes in tone or volume, first test passed. I have a couple of "true bypass" pedals that suck a little tone and/ or volume in bypass. Not so with the Tone Lube. Good! Let's keep going.
Next I engaged the Tone Lube with the Level and Gain knobs at zero. No changes in tone or volume. So far so good, I already know I bought a great and unique pedal. Second test passed. Next I hit the 10db Boost switch, knobs are still @ zero and right now this pedal just paid for itself! A most luxurious clean boost slamming the front end of my amp and adding some clipping and crunch. Chords just sing out, It's not just louder, but richer and way more dynamic. Single notes bite and twang, the single coil tone is ramped up and thrown in your face. Amazing tone! Back off the guitar volume a little and the crunchiness smooths out but overall volume stays the same.
Now I disengage the 10db Boost switch and I turn the Level knob 1/2 way. Still beautifully clean but noticeably louder. I turn it up all the way and the little Skank amp is significantly louder again. Things are breaking up now but cleans up with softer pick attack. I turn the amp right up and I now have a clean signal tone that will be able to do small room gigs. I've used this Skank amp lots for gigs but always in High Gain mode to get the volume needed. Not so anymore, as this pedal does actually act like a boutique Pre-Amp and I haven't even started to turn the pedal Gain up! One thing about the Tone Lube is that there is no setting that diminishes your signal, no setting that sucks your tone. The pedal knobs at Zero is Unity and the only place to go is up!
I turn the amp down again and I turn the pedal Level back to 12:00 and start to bring up the Gain. I instantly get some thick crunch and much more sustain. Of course, tone has not degraded at all, only enhanced. Now as I keep cranking the Gain I get more and more saturation and more and more volume. This thing has gobs of Volume. as I make my way to the top of the Gain sweep, I have to turn my amp down so as not to go deaf. The Tone Lube full on is a raging tube overdrive with serious bottom thonk and Marshall type midrange. Angus Young through a JCM 800. Just incredible! I do another little test. I unplug the Tone Lube and turn the Skank on to High Gain at about 75% Gain. It is quieter but the tone sounds the same! I play through these old AlNico celestions and the Skank has always had a Marshall-esque tone. Now with the Tone Lube I've got the volume!
Now I just start messing with the knobs. It will take a while to get all the tones figured out on this pedal, the knobs are definitely interactive. There are lots of sweet spots between sparkling clean to in your face crunch to saturated overdrive. One of the most interesting and fun settings is to have the Gain all the way up and the level at about a quarter way up. I get this clean signal on top with a fuzzy OD tone underneath. Playing softly and single note melody lead you don't really notice but strum a bit harder and dig in to lead playing and this fuzz underneath shows up. So good! And as I bring the Level up the OD becomes more noticeable, although the clean signal is still present (until about half way). Way to Go!
All in all this is the best and most amazing "overdrive" pedal I have ever had. As soon as you get the original (SuperNatural Human Touch Tone Optinizer) Z pedal up and running, sign me up for one and I'll throw all my other OD pedals out!
Customer Reveiw #2
Got it yesterday Alex, thanks for the speedy shipment.
Wow, it certainly does and sound exactly like you described - really gooses my amps (for the record- a'65 non-reverb Deluxe and a'79 50w Marshall JMP). The Tone Lube is more of a preamp pedal and does not behave at all like my other Overdrives. Really makes them howl when fully engaged even at lower volume settings. And muy transparent. . Keeps your guitar and amp tone INTACT. Probably the truest sounding, very progressive volume/gain solid state overdrive, I've ever encountered, no mean feat. For live gigs it should be killer! Adding MXR rubber knob covers, great tip - thanks! Yes the Tone Lube will be on a lot, for sure! And hopefully in the future I will order more gear as soon as feasible for me. Really nice stuff you make. Keep fighting the good fight.
Thanks very much for all your attention, nice doing business and I'll keep an eye on your site. Very cool and thanks again, I'm still discovering...and keep on with your bad self.Best Regards, Mike
It really is an "amp killer' that it can stand on it's own with just a power amp for sure. But it sure can make my old fender bark pretty damn loud and get mucho
grind going. A really useful gigging tool. Kicks you right over the top! Thanks vey much again, Mike
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