22 April 2010

Suhr Riot Distortion Pedal #901

This arrived from the postman yesterday. It's always a nice feeling when you know it's something good inside. Packages from the postman never fails to bring a smile to my face.

John Suhr makes not only great sounding guitars but also stompboxes. This one here is the Suhr Riot Distortion pedal. I have tried hunting this pedal down from several online shops but most of them had been sold out. From my knowledge, these Suhr Riot pedals are getting snapped up everytime stocks arrive. Most online shops offer a T.B.A pre-order duration for at least 2 weeks but that was just not my thing. I needed the thrill of the hunt so I had no choice but to stalk ebay for several days. Finally 4 pieces showed up and the rest was history. The other 3 were snapped up within the day itself and it was back to sold out status again.

So what's the hype with this purple pedal? I have read many raving reviews on how excellent this pedal sounded and watched one too many youtube demos of this pedal in action. They sounded really good. Too good to be true! But does this pedal live up to it's hype for real?

First Impressions:

My first impression of this pedal was the color of the housing. If purple is your thing then i guess you'll love how it looks like grape candy when looked from reflecting light. The pedal is well built and feels very sturdy in hand and could probably take a couple of hard knocks.


I have read many reviews before deciding to take the plunge on getting one of these and all the reviews and hype i have read are true! This pedal really sounds more like an amp rather than a stompbox. Nice transparent tone with a good amount of gain. The pedal cleans up nicely when the volume is rolled off producing some very nice sparkle with my Fender American Deluxe. The voicing switch adds some versatility to this pedal. The voice switch enables some mid boost, scooped mids and a marshall vibe when toggled. There are many possibilites in tweaking to hit the right spot. It's hard to describe tone through words. Youtube has several demos of the pedal and they really can be accounted for.

In's & Out's

The usual input & output, 9v-18v dc input is there but this unit also has a special FX Link input. What the heck is that you ask? The FX Link is a way for MIDI to turn pedals on/off without having to insert them into a loop-switcher.


The many raving reviews online and on youtube speak for themselves and this pedal has a lot of tone to offer. On the downside, The Suhr Riot did not have insane amounts of gain on it's own but by stacking pedals with the riot can coax some major gain altogether. I'll recommend stacking it with a BB preamp. They work beautifully together and have very minimal noise issues on my strat with vintage spec pups.

If your setup consist of a clean tube amp, In my case, it's a VOX AC15 Heritage Handwired head and cab. The Suhr Riot pedal can compliment that clean amp into a modern hi gain stack. Lots of saturation, sweet overtones , transparency , tight low end, responsive dynamics and with a dash of rich harmonics. The Suhr Riot has the key ingredients of making a great dirt pedal.

Be sure to check out the Koko Boost and Shiba Drive as well. These Suhr pedals are really something.


Buy It Now Price on Ebay at USD$199 excluding shipping.

Street Value: $250 - $300 Used

Ratings: 9.8/10

20 April 2010

Danelectro Cool Cat Transparent Overdrive Re-House

When the Danelectro Cool Cat Transparent Overdrive V1 was released into the market. Many guitarist were so amazed at how this pedal sounded for a mere SGD$38. It was so good that people were calling it an exact clone/copy of Paul Cochrane’s Timmy pedal minus the waiting list and Fugly housing. The big turn off on this pedal would be how it looks. Many Cool Cat users hated how the knobs were placed on the pedal. It’s hard to access and tweak with the knobs placed so close together on the top side of the pedal. The green metal housing is a big turn off for many users too.

I decided to take this pedal apart and see what I could do with it. I love the tone of this pedal enough to want to try a re-house. The big problem here was to relocate the existing PCB mounted pots to the face of the housing and sadly, my un-steady hands messed up the pedal to the point that it made screeching noises when activated. It’s always good to attempt it before bringing it to the pros. It’s a good learning curve to attempt it even if there were risks involved. But in this case, the risk were not too costly so i guess it's ok.

So I took it to one of our local guitar techs to complete the job. Low and behold the Danelectro Cool Cat Transparent Overdrive Re-Housed with 4 knobs on its face, 9v dc on its side, battery compartment removed and housing painted.



The Insides


Painted in Florecent Pink and Dried With My Wife's Nail Dryer Machine.

Just When You Thought Manicures Are Dumb.

Re-Assembled & Soldered

The Final Product!

The new housing now spots 4 knobs. Volume, Treble, Bass and Gain. The new pots used are 100k pots. I bet scott could not find 20k and 50k pots locally as these don't come by easily unless you have them shipped over. Changed the blue LED to a bright white LED, Changed the 3DPDT switch and new switchcraft inputs. Tone remains the same but just that the pots are more sensitive as the value for the new pots are higher and needs some getting used to in tweaking but it still beats the original placements of the PCB mounted pots. I have yet to get some waterslide decals to have fonts applied... On second thought, I might just leave it as it is. The lazy factor is kicking in after so much work.

Credits to Scott from Sound Alchemy for the re-house and also to my lovely wife for loaning her beloved Nail Dryer to me.

I'll name this pedal.....



Transparent Overdrive !

13 April 2010

The BBE Sonic Stomp Sonic Maximizer "4th Gen"

The Maximizer! Not to be associated with the kind that involves trickery and deception to men. This one is a stomp box that makes a hell of a difference in tone. Like the manual quotes, "It's like removing a blanket over your amp". I first bought this pedal after reading many positive reviews over harmony central The BBE Sonic Stomp makes a crappy amp sound good and a good amp sound even better.

The Sonic Stomp has only two control knobs. "Lo Contour (Bass)" & "Presence (Treble)". I have always considered this pedal as THE MAGIC BOX. Some argue that an EQ pedal would be able to produce the same results but personally, It has that little bit of something that i can't really put my finger on about the Sonic Stomp. This pedal is a must have in my setup to boost my VOX AC15 Heritage to sound close to a modern Hi-Gain amp.

I had one of those "What the F**K" was i thinking!" moments where i blindly used a 110v 9v adapter that was provided together with the pedal to power up the Sonic Stomp and i'm living in a country with a voltage cap of 220v. The obvious happened and that incident left a void in my pedalboard. Big lesson learnt here on being conplacent. I had fried the IC chip and the pedal is now a paper weight on my desk. I thought i could go cold turkey and do without it but after months of not having it around, I felt that my pedalboard was really lacking a key ingredient so i had another one bought off ebay for half the price i paid for the first and this was the newer " 4th Generation" BBE Sonic Stomp Maximizer.

From Left: Old Version and the 4th Generation BBE Sonic Stomp

The 4G version sounds identical to the previous that i had owned. The main difference here for me is the change in it's cosmetics. It now spots new fonts and a new color. The new fonts somehow remind me of that 70's T.V show "I Dream Of Genie". The height of the housing is slightly higher compared to it's older counterpart. The Sonic Maximizer is also true bypass and runs on the regular 9v battery or dc power.

My final word on the BBE Sonic Stomp:

If you are using a vintage spec amp and looking for that little bit more versatility then the Sonic Stomp will really come in handy. It can also be used to boost the frequencies to bring out those solos and let that lead tone stand out in the band. Not only can this MAGIC BOX be used with guitars, it can be used with Bass, Keyboards and probably anything else which has a 3 3/4 inch jack that produces sound. It boosts the low and high frequencies very nicely and with a tinge of clarity to top things off.

I'll highly recommend this pedal to anyone looking for more "BOOMZ" in their setup.

Price & Availability:

I have seen the old version of this pedal at WoodWorkz some time back in the display window but it was only available for a very brief period of time. Swee Lee only has the rack mount version the last time i checked.

This pedal can be bought off Ebay at USD$69 excluding shipping.

Rate: 9/10