Oddfellow The Bishop

With participants in the great Klon arms race looking beyond the constraints of nailing the Centaur sound, we’re hearing how wonderful variations on the theme can be. Oddfellow’s Bishop makes no specific claims to Klon-ness, but the sonic likenesses are unmistakable and the differences are intriguing, practical, and full of possibilities.

Undercover Agendas
Removing the backplate from the Bishop reveals little about the circuit. Oddfellow inverted the circuit board, so you can’t see what components actually populate it. The upside is that you don’t have to hunt for the very practical true bypass/buffer switch. There’s also room for a 9V battery just adjacent to the board-mounted footswitch.

To my ear, the Bishop is fundamentally very Klon-like, though at most settings it dwells on the darker end of the Klon spectrum. At equivalent settings with my own Klon clone, the Bishop is darker and you have to open up the treble by an additional third to get the same airiness and tonality. The differences are more than treble range, though. There’s just a touch of TS-style compression (the kind I really like), and the combination of the darker tendencies and that trace of TS boxiness make the Bishop a killer match for trebly single-coils and hotter humbuckers. It’s also lends softer contours to British amps with a tendency for spiky transients without stripping the signal of top-end punch.

Ratings

Pros:
Nuanced gain control. Airy and detailed at higher tone settings. Nice interactivity between controls. Great with toppy single coils and hot humbuckers.

Cons:
Can sound comparatively boxy at mellower tone settings.

Tones:

Ease of Use:

Build/Design:

Value:

Street:
$165

Oddfellow The Bishop
oddfellowfx.com

The Bishop is not a hair-singeing, high-gain affair. And at first, the gain control can seem to lack range—at least in the sense that it doesn’t flirt with metal distortion textures. Whether this is a plus or minus is totally subjective. But I loved the subtle shades and gradients of distortion that you get in trade. And what the gain control might lack in range, it makes up for in fine-tuning accuracy—especially when you use the equally effective tone control with care.

The fact that the pedal is not too hot also translates to a very nice harmonic balance that highlights the individual components of complex chords very effectively. I could grind out Faces riffs all night for the way the Bishop makes barre chords so intricate-sounding and delicious. And if the Bishop has already lured you into the Ronnie Wood/Keith Richards boogie zone, you’ll find that the pedal’s sensitivity to harmonic intricacies make open-tuned riffs colorful and huge.

The Bishop’s more compressed and less gainy output also works well with additional effects. It can help analog delay repeats nestle more softly and subtly into a mix—I found this pairing especially subtle and sublime—and soften digital repeats. The pedal’s capacity for taming high end also makes it a great companion for a sizzling fuzz.

The Verdict
Like the figure that graces the enclosure and gives this Oddfellow its name, the Bishop is resolutely devout in its mission. It’s not on the fence about whether it’s a distortion or something else. It’s an overdrive that specializes in the subtleties, softer glow, and patina of Peter Green’s tone palette and the classier side of Brit boogie raunch. But it’s also a less macho overdrive in many respects, which makes it a very refreshing alternative for driving digital effects. And while Bishop is completely capable of getting rowdy, its real strength is nuance and a control set sensitive enough to explore that world in depth.

Watch the Review Demo:

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