You need not be a Kirk Hammett fan to appreciate or use the KHDK Ghoul Screamer. But its versatility hints at Hammett’s multifaceted tastes and abilities, as well as the wide-open potential of a TS-style circuit in the hands of a creative circuit tweaker.

I used the Ghoul with the fat, twangy, and rather un-Hammett-like setup of a humbucker-equipped Telecaster and a ’60s Bassman. But even with this rig the Ghoul’s lively, eager-to-please malleability shines. The Ghoul is more airy and hotter-sounding than my vintage TS-9 at equivalent settings, but I suspect the wide-spectrum harmonic profile will appeal to most—not least those who like fast picking response. The five switches that complement the wide-ranging tone, volume, and gain controls add true versatility. Bass and body switches were especially transformative at mid-to-high gain settings, generating burly, sustain-heavy lead tones and silky but massive rhythm. Taking bass and body out and activating the treble makes the pedal cut like a laser.

Though not especially transparent, the Ghoul isn’t heavy-handed either, and I never found the extra coloration jarring. It’s a potential lifesaver in changing backline situations, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a more versatile OD.

Test gear: Fender Telecaster Custom, silverface Fender Bassman, 2x12 cab

Fender Champ and Fender Telecaster Deluxe. Pedal drive at one o’ clock, tone at two o’clock, volume at ten o’clock. Clips are clean, followed by all voice switches off, bass switch on, treble switch on, then body switch on.

Ratings

Pros:
The killer overdrive equivalent of a utility belt for changing backlines. A fantastic match for tube amps that live at the verge of breakup. Great range in controls.

Cons:
Might have a bit too much color and heat for TS users interested in clean boost potential.

Street:
$229

KHDK Ghoul Screamer
khdkelectronics.com

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