||Download Example 1
Level 12, Tone 2, Drive 5. Epiphone Slash Les Paul, both humbuckers.
||Download Example 2
Level 11, Tone 3, Drive 5. Burns Brian May guitar, middle and bridge pups in phase. PRS 30 Amp.
||Download Example 3
Level 12, Tone 11, Drive 3. Fender Strat, neck pickup.
|Clips recorded with Fryette Memphis amp (unless otherwise specified), Shure SM57, Avid Pro Tools.
There’s no shortage of pedals designed to emulate the sonic qualities
of vintage amps. But a pedal that captures the sound of a vintage amp
as you’d hear it on a record? It sounds like pretty esoteric stuff. But
according to EarthQuaker Devices, that’s the aim of their “amp-on-a-record-
in-a-box” overdrive pedal, the Chrysalis.
The Chrysalis’ name and logo script suggest an homage to the ’70s record
label that was home to such rockers as Jethro Tull. Housed in a light-green
metal case, it’s a handmade, true bypass pedal with a discrete transistor
design. Running the Chrysalis from an 18V DC power supply yields
increased headroom with a wider gain range and more focused tone, but it
also works fine drawing juice from a 9V cell. The pedal is easy to navigate
too, with just Level, Tone, and Drive, plus a handy on/off switch.
…And Pretty Mean
Evaluating a pedal designed to emulate the sounds of classic rock
called for using an iconic ’70s rock guitar, so I hooked up my Burns
Brian May model with Tri-Sonic pickups and a Paul Reed Smith 30 amp.
Straightaway, I was in sweet, midrange-voiced British rock territory.
Humbucker-equipped guitars, including a Parker Fly and Charvel So-Cal
with DiMarzio pickups, predictably coaxed some very fat sounds out
of the Chrysalis. But even when driven with humbuckers, the Chrysalis
retained a focus and bright clarity that would cut through any mix.
I also ran the pedal into an Egnater Tourmaster, a Fryette Memphis, and
a Marshall 1959RR Randy Rhoads amp. I adjusted each amp for a clean
and neutral setting, and let the Chrysalis take care of the overdrive.
Even when I dialed in a super high-gain setting on the Chrysalis with its
Drive knob all the way up and the amp cranked, the pedal added a lot
of color without muddying the signal. With the Drive turned down halfway,
the Chrysalis still provided heaps of crunch and responsiveness.
During my tests, I discovered that the very versatile and useful Tone
knob has a wide range that lets you make the overdrive as warm or
biting as you want. But this pedal is essentially about midrange and
presence, and even with the Tone knob all the way down, the signal
remained lively and defined without sounding either flabby or muffled.
This impressive midrange performance is essentially where the
Chrysalis lives up to its “amp-on-a-record-in-a-box” billing. It has an
uncanny ability to claim its own sonic space, as if it were being EQ’d
and mixed by a very crafty engineer sitting behind the desk at Sunset
Sound or Trident studios.
I did have an issue with noise and hum, especially at louder amp levels, and
might be tempted to use a noise gate to eliminate some of that unwanted
sound. But if you’re using this pedal in the context for which it was created—
brawny, raucous, ’70s rock—you probably won’t be too concerned.
EarthQuaker sets an odd set of expectations for the Chrysalis by billing
it as the sound of a recorded amp. But in the sense that it can provide
the kind of cutting boost and distortion that will find room in any mix,
the Chrysalis can help you maintain a certain presence that’s typical of
those classic records.
The pedal isn’t high-gain enough for metal, but that may be its only
limitation. Whether you’re playing with a cranked 100-watt stack or a
practice amp at bedroom levels, the Chrysalis will provide the kind of
biting lead tones and harmonically rich chords that defined ’70s rock.
you’re a classic rock player who wants
a guitar tone straight off a ’70s
you play metal or need a lot of