Circuit guru Jon Cusack’s latest high-gain creation, the Orthrus, is a tonal gut punch. In Greek mythology, the pedal’s namesake is a two-headed, serpent-tailed guard dog, and after just a few minutes with the pedal, the moniker fits. The Orthrus is a rather full-featured overdrive with a 3-band EQ and a switchable boost. According to Cusack, the design was based on two legendary tone stacks, and I’m sure at least one starts with M.

To my ears, the key to a clear, rich, high-gain sound is in the EQ. The Orthrus has a serious amount of gain and volume, but the 3-band EQ is the star of the show. With the EQ knobs at noon, my Les Paul Custom became a fire-breathing monster that was willing to guard the sanctity of nearly any Metallica riff I could throw at it. As I turned down the mids, it seemed like I was literally turning back the years on the thrash-metal timeline.

There are three options for the boost (3, 6, and 9 dB), and when I kicked it on it gave me a warm, saturated tone. I did need to tweak some EQ to really pull out the best of the boost, but, hey, that’s a quibble. If you need some easy-to-tweak trash and metal tones, then the Orthrus might be the mythological tone shaper you’ve always dreamed of

Test gear: Ibanez SZ320, Gibson Les Paul Custom, Fender Hot Rod DeVille ML

Ratings

Pros:
So. Much. Gain. Very handy boost feature. Super-fun kill-switch mode.

Cons:
No independent EQ for boost.

Street:
$189

Cusack Music Orthrus
cusackmusic.com

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