Sean Michael at Lovepedal is clearly a busy man. In this month's print issue, we reviewed four of his new line of ultra-compact pedals
, and now we’re back to check out a pair of very different new offerings, the Kalamazoo and RedHead.
Both the Kalamazoo and RedHead are housed in die cast aluminum cases the same basic size and shape of an MXR Phase 90 (4.37” x 2.37” x 1.07”). The battery compartments are accessed via the back panel by removing four machine screws. For those who power their effects with a power supply, there is a 9VDC input located on the left side of the pedal. Each pedal also features true a true bypass stomp switch with accompanying blue LED. The input and output follow tradition with the input jack on the right and the output jack on the left.
I tested both pedals out with a Gibson Les Paul, Fender American Standard Strat and a Hamer Korina Special into a 3rd Power American Dream combo (blackface and brownface-inspired channels) and a 1970 Marshall Superbass through a Mojave 2x12 with Eminence Governor and 70s blackback Celestion G12M.
||Download Example 1
Les Paul, hard rock rhythm tone
||Download Example 2
Les Paul, sharp, focused high-gain tone
||Download Example 3
Strat, Ritchie Blackmore tone
|All clips recorded through a 3rd Power American Dream combo with an SM-7 into a Summit Audio TPA-200B tube mic pre, direct into Pro Tools.
The RedHead is finished in a deep, fire engine red, which coincides with the aural design of the pedal—deep and fiery. Controls are Volume, Sustain, Tone, and Mids. Like the Kalamazoo, the top two controls (Volume and Sustain) are black knobs with white pointers, and the Tone control is a trim post. The Mids control is a switch rather than a knob and clearly kicks in a different midrange voicing. According to the website, this pedal is designed for high gain and explosive feedback generation. Let’s plug it in and see how it fares.
Once again I began with the Les Paul/Marshall combo and set all controls midway and the Mids switch in the left (off) position. This is clearly a different beast than the Kalamazoo, and I mean “beast” in the best way. The tone went from a dirty clean to a volatile monster with a downright irreverent mid sound that Billy Gibbons would be proud of. All the honk, grease, and gain you ever wanted came screaming right out of the gate.
Backing the Volume down and pushing the Sustain up resulted in a screaming, fiery sound with a pronounced pick attack that added an aggressive quality to the already aggressive tone. Pinch harmonics were never so easy to achieve, until I switched on the Mids switch. With the Mids on, there was a good amount of volume boost as well as a boxy tone that had honk and bite at the same time. Boxy isn’t a word usually used to describe a desirable sound but in this case it is—total character.
On the RedHead, the Tone control is the reverse of the Kalamazoo in that it adds bite and presence to the sound. I found myself constantly tweaking it to achieve various sounds from biting and angry to smooth and sustained. Backing the Sustain off to around noon and cranking the Volume resulted in the thickest, most badass attack I’d heard through my Marshall in years, and I loved the sound of the amp acting like it was going to give way at any second. This is not a subtle pedal!
The Strat ended up being my favorite guitar with the RedHead. As a huge Ritchie Blackmore fan, I loved how it easily conjured up Rainbow tones like “All Night Long.” Blackmore’s tone has always been a favorite of mine because it was aggressive yet clear, and when he hit chords hard you could tell the amp was ready to explode. Even in relatively low volume settings on both the Marshall and American Dream, it was easy to recreate that vibe.
The beauty of this pedal once again lies in the interplay between the controls. Much like a master volume tube amp, when you push up the Volume the tone resembles the thickness of power tube distortion and the Sustain acts very much like preamp distortion. With the combination of the two and setting the amp up to clean or slightly dirty there are a huge range of distortion tones available. Add in the ability to dial in extra mids or bite through the Tone and Mids and the possibilities are endless.
If you bought this pedal only for the ability to create aggressive and cool harmonic feedback it would be worth the price of admission. The fact that the RedHead offers up everything from vintage-inspired gain to modern, aggressive distortion made it a winner on every level for me.
you want aggressive yet musical gain with killer mids
you’ve never made a pact with the devil and don’t plan to