Way Huge WHE101 Angry Troll Linear Boost Amplifier
For such a simple effect, guitarists can certainly be fickle about which boost pedals they use. Different boosts can yield drastically different tones than others, in which some cause the amp to take on a more chimey, three dimensional nature, while others can make it more of a mid-heavy aggressor. Way Huge Electronics, creator of such famed effects as the Swollen Pickle Fuzz and Fat Sandwich Distortion, has entered the boost realm with the Angry Troll, a linear boost amplification pedal that features 50db of boost and an adjustable op-amp.
Some old-school Way Huge fans might have heard of an elusive pedal called the Angry Troll from the original days of the company, so I decided to pick Mr. Huge’s (Jeorge Tripps) brain on the matter. The Angry Troll was a one-off project for one of Tripps’ friends. They were never an official Way Huge pedal, which is why they were never released as such. This incarnation features the exact same circuit design as the originals, except it sports the standard Way Huge enclosure.
Armed with a 2008 Fender American Stratocaster and a 1973 Marshall Super Bass, I ran the Troll through several settings, the first of which was a basic clean boost. The “Anger” control, which sets the amount of internal overdrive, has six settings, the lowest of which removes its effect entirely. This setting revealed the true nature of the Troll, which is fairly mid-heavy. It doesn’t really give added depth to the tone, rather it causes the amp to be punchier and much, much louder. I noticed that the highs stayed intact, which was a question that I had before I plugged it in. I like boosts that take the same tone and make it stronger, not one that rolls off frequencies. Suffice it to say, the Angry Troll did just that, and I was very pleased with the result.
The built-in op-amp distortion required a little more tweaking with my setup to achieve an ideal sound. I really liked the way that it reacted to the Marshall, but only when the amp was driven into its natural overdrive; by itself, it was a little on the raspy side, and only got harsher as I set the Anger knob higher. The results were very impressive with the amp overdriven, however. Chords where fatter and thicker, and I had to be very careful to set the Anger control at a more conservative level to avoid congestion. At around the 3rd fist, I was able to coax out one of the best neck lead tones that I’ve ever achieved from that particular amplifier. The fluid, thick tones were incredible, and retained all of the amp’s natural bite and attack.
Way Huge has created another fantastic pedal to add to their lineup. While it might not be as feature-oriented as its brethren, it certainly bears the same qualities for fantastic sound as they do.
Mad Professor Sweet Honey Overdrive
you’re looking for a simple, standalone boost with a useful overdrive built in.
you need a standalone overdrive with more tonal control, i.e. a tone knob.
Among boutique stompbox enthusiasts BJF is something of a name to conjure by. “Amp-like” is a word commonly used to describe units like this, but like much of what Mad Professor offers (and unlike many others out to provide an array of overdrive tones with each unit), the SHOD seems designed toward a particular function and added texture, and its enhancements are not really the kind to alter the original tonal color of your guitar and amp. The Sweet Honey OD is aptly named, since it’s essentially an adjustable sweet spot for your rig. Hitting the switch causes whatever combination of amp and instrument you’re playing to become more sensitive and sit at the verge of distorting. The Level works as you’d expect. The Drive knob rather than pouring on greater amounts of gain, adjusts the amount of overdrive you’ll get when you dig in. Another twist to the usual design is the Focus knob. Rather than a tone control, it adjusts the response; turning clockwise provides a slight treble boost as well as bringing on earlier breakup, turning the other direction softens the top end and tightens the feel.
Designed for pick sensitivity to offer players the ability to control breakup and overdrive characteristics with only dynamics, the largest effect you’ll notice is the change in the feel and response. The added dimension of sound it’ll generate running into a clean amp is noticeable, but not the kind that draws attention to itself—it’s there to help you make your playing more expressive. The SHOD is wonderfully articulate and detailed, it also adds loads of sustain and harmonic richness to your tone, whether it’s humbuckers or a single-coil guitar, and it works as well with amp we tried it with ... we’re not quite sure how. What it doesn’t offer is loads of gain. If your playing style lives on the verge of amp breakup, though, this could be a set-and-forget pedal that you use in conjunction with other effects and overdrive units … you’ll be on sweet spot easy street.
Granville Spiney Norman
you’re looking to enhance the feel and dynamic range of an already great sounding rig.
what you really want is a heaping dose of gain.
The only thing more apparent in Granville’s stompboxes than build quality is builder Davis’s sense of humor. This one is named for the imaginary giant hedgehog of Monty Python fame (the only creature other than his brother Doug mean enough to terrorize fictional gangster Dinsdale Piranha). Satire’s vicious edge notwithstanding, if the mean and angry character that inspired the pedal indicates its tonal intentions, Davis has certainly hit the mark. It is every bit as capable of sounding “aggressive, impolite and heinous” as its maker suggests. The fact is, it’s tons of fun to play.
With the Filter control set at noon or above and the Drive knob up to about 1 or 2 o’clock, the Spiny Norman exhibits a kerrang of distortion that goes from natty breakup to meaty crunch with tremendous sustain and mid-thickened sweetness. As you roll the Filter control CCW below noon, the mids loosen, the crunch gets downright hairy and the top end grows fangs—it’s not for the faint of heart, and it can get a bit difficult to rein in, if that’s what you want from your dirt box. Creamy and smooth, it ain’t, so it’s probably not going to be your first choice for bluesy hard rock. If you’re on a lo-fi, garage rock jag, though, and the straight up fuzz isn’t doing everything you want, this Granville will certainly have you shouting “Dinsdale!”
Whirlwind Gold Box
all your other Distortion pedals are too well behaved.
your rowdy garage band days are all behind you.
Whirlwid recently enlisted original MXR pedal designer Michael Laiacona to design reissues of the Phase 90, The Distortion Plus and the Dyna Comp pedals. The Gold Box Distortion is the new version of the Distortion Plus.
I have owned several of the original pedals, though I didn't have an original on hand for comparison. With all three reissues, Whirlwind added a 9V jack and an LED. The controls are Output and Distortion.
Checking out the tone on this unit, I immediately recalled the highly distorted nature of this pedal. It produces a bright sustaining type of distortion. I had to considerably lower the treble on the amps for this one. Once I did, it became more smooth and pleasing. Dialing back the volume on the guitar allowed this pedal to clean up surprisingly well. The story goes that Randy Rhoads used this pedal with his Marshall amps on the Ozzy tracks. Personal sources place it on his pedalboard during the earlier days as well. An MXR Equalizer may have been used with it to shape the tone a bit. I think this pedal will work well with any amp that has a good set of tone controls to get what the player really needs out of it. It can produce any distortion amount needed. You do need to turn your amp up to its power range for best results with this pedal to keep it from sounding too bright and compressed. I also tried this pedal in front of the compressor pedal with some killer results. I always thought that a tone control would have been a welcome addition to this pedal, but Whirlwind was trying to recreate the vibe of the original pedal, and I feel he has done this very well.
The pedal is solidly built (and comes in a nice velvet bag) and has a very welcome lower noise floor. I got the feeling when using the pedal that I was playing through a pro piece of gear rather than something that would break or fail. While not exactly dead-on to the original version, the minor upgrades I think are valid in today’s music. – KR
you are looking for a powerful distortion that will really cut through the mix.
you are looking for a lighter overdrive tone, although this one does clean up as well.