SC-2 Valve Distortion
Do you long for high-gain distortion? Scooped
metal tones? Brutalicious chunk? The SC-2 Valve
Distortion delivers the goods, but it’s more than
just a killing machine in a stompbox. It has a
sensitive side. I was able to dial in pretty much
everything from a smattering of amp breakup
à la Jimmy Page to face-melting shred. You get
four knobs: Level, Low, High, and Gain. You
get two settings: Crunch and Saturated. The
Crunch mode gives you… Crunch. That’s classic
Marshall-esque overdrive/distortion with a mid
boost and harmonic overtones a plenty. The
Saturated setting scoops out the mids and gives
you the kind of gain you would need if you
wanted to drop in onstage with Iron Maiden.
Guitarists are persnickety when it comes to distortion
pedals, and I like distortion pedals with
warmth. This pedal has it. There’s nothing sterile
sounding going on here. I was able to navigate
my guitar’s tone to everything from clean
boost to dirty blues, from AC/DC right on up
to Metallica. It’s got a lot of range despite the
fact that my first impulse was to max the gain,
back off on the highs, and pump the bass. It
sounded awesome! There’s a lot going on as
you back off on the gain, yet it always retains
a wonderfully natural, tubey warmth. The
scooped mids are righteous! It also gets that
classic, notched-wah Michael Schenker thing
without sounding muddy.
When I cranked the highs, I got a nice,
usable cutting tone that could slice through
any band mix without becoming ice picky. It’s
a versatile pedal that would work great for
blues, shred, or jamming on Anthrax tunes.
And the best thing about this pedal is that it
will stay warm no matter what.
The Final Mojo
you want to experience the
power and the glory.
you don’t understand the
fury of rock.
My favorite pedals are the ones with thin
instruction manuals. I just want to play guitar,
and thankfully the HardWire instruction manuals
are thin. Great pedals should be intuitive,
have the sturdiness to endure abuse,
sound glorious, and enhance your art. The
HardWire pedals do all these things at a reasonable
price. Don’t let pre-conceptions of
these pedals fool you. You can coax sounds
from across the spectrum out of all these
tantalizing tone tanks. Clean players can
find transparent boost, subtle slapback, and
the smallest of amp breakup, while those
seeking heaviosity can gorge themselves
on relentless blues-rock sustain, arena-style
delays, and brutally crushing distortion.
Check ’em out. You won’t be sorry.