Aguilar Tone Hammer
The Tone Hammer provides three bands of EQ (with +/- 18 db of cut/boost plus sweepable mids), and a direct out (with pre/post and ground lift). It can serve as a preamp (even drives a power amp!) or DI, but also lets you switch between two vastly different sounds on the fly. For example, you could have a solo setting with added gain and tweaked EQ. Or you could alternate between a clean signal when bypassing the unit and an overdriven sound kicked in through the Adaptive Gain Shaping (AGS) circuit that adds a combination of drive and EQ.

The actual effect of the AGS varies with the amount of gain and the midrange settings. At low gain settings, you get a bit of edge and the tone stays round and full. At high gain settings, notes compress more and the mids move farther forward.

A handy feature is that—once switched on—the AGS stays ready to kick in when you engage the Tone Hammer’s circuit. And there’s an orange indicator light to remind you of that. One thing to watch for is that the Tone Hammer doesn’t have a separate level control dedicated to the AGS circuit.

It’s a sturdy unit that’s quality throughout, right down to the convenient slide-out battery drawer. The 18V Tone Hammer can be powered three ways—two 9V batteries (more headroom than a single battery), a power adapter (but not the 9V wallwart that runs the rest of your pedalboard), or phantom power from the house PA. – DB
Buy If...
you’re looking for a versatile outboard preamp or a quality DI box that’s a good value.
Skip If...

you want to toggle between clean settings with EQ and an overdrive, while keeping approximately the same volume level.
MSRP $189 - Aguilar -