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more... GearEffectsSound SamplesReviewsOverdriveNovember 2011Celestial Effects

Celestial Effects Virgo Overdrive Pedal Review

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Celestial Effects Virgo Overdrive Pedal Review
Though technically a division of the well-established Thermalogic Corporation, a Massachusetts-based supplier of electronic controls and sensors, Celestial Effects is a newcomer to the pedal world. But don’t let the big parent company fool you. Celestial’s Chief Designer, Dom Mancini, has been making, modifying, and repairing guitars, pedals, and tube amps for over 25 years, and his pedals are handbuilt in the USA to what you could safely call boutique standards. The Virgo Overdrive reviewed is the rock overdrive member of the five-pedal Celestial line.

Astrological Control Freak
Housed in a blue powder-coated box adorned with graphic representations of its associated astrological sign and a young lass who seems to have misplaced her clothes, the Virgo has four clearly labeled knobs for Volume, Tone, Edge, and Gain. These are augmented with a 3-way switch that selects between a pair of silicon diodes (position 1), no diodes (position 2), and an asymmetrical combination of a MOSFET and germanium diode (position 3). Standard input and output jacks are located at the top front of the Virgo with a 9V or 18V power input between them. The switch is true bypass.

A Bucker’s Best Friend
The Virgo loves humbuckers and Marshalls, which I found out when I fired up my Les Paul R8 and 1970 Super Bass through a ’68 basketweave 4x12 cab housing Celestion Vintage 30s and G12H-30s in an X-pattern. I set up the Virgo in MOSFET/germanium mode, cranked the Gain, Tone, and Edge knobs, and the immediate result was ’60s and ’70s saturated goodness. It’s easy to extract Leslie West vibes and early Montrose tones that are incredibly brawny and inspiring. In general, the Volume control seems to thicken a guitar’s sound as much as boost your signal, though the boost becomes much more detectable in the more extreme ranges of the Volume control’s travel.



Setting the 3-way switch to a no-diode setting, pulling the Gain down, and cranking the Volume yielded a tighter, more focused overdrive that sounded a lot like my amp on steroids. It’s a killer setup for hard-rock rhythm and slightly boosted solos. This was one of my favorite modes, and I could see using this pedal extensively in the studio for tracking to take advantage of the tight and defined overdrive.



The dual-silicon setting offered a smoother sound that was slightly less responsive to my pick attack. In this mode, I found I could darken the tone in a very cool way by bringing down the Edge and Tone. References to Clapton’s ’60s “woman tone” are not always apt, but that’s exactly what you get in this setting, and I absolutely loved the way it cut through on notes without sounding sharp.



The Verdict
Celestial Effects has not stumbled blindly into the pedal business. It’s clear that the Virgo’s designers have carefully analyzed what it takes to make a great classic-rock tone—and then they’ve given you a little more width to work with. The pedal is beautifully quiet, which is fortuitous, considering how well it works as a boost. If you have a big amplifier and a humbucker-equipped axe, you’ll likely come to believe the Virgo is your sign—because it’s a sure ticket to sweetly sustaining heaven à la Cream-era Clapton.
Buy if...
you want thick, defined, and versatile overdrive for your humbuckers and Marshalls.
Skip if...
you’re more of a fuzz player.
Rating...


Street $199 - Celestial Effects - celestialeffects.com

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