Download Example 1
Strat, slight overdrive with chime
Download Example 2
Strat, Funk with hairy overdrive
Download Example 3
Les Paul, dark sustained drive
All clips recorded through a 3rd Power American Dream combo with an SM-7 into a Summit Audio TPA-200B tube mic pre, direct into Pro Tools.
The Kalamazoo is finished in chrome so shiny that you could easily use it as a mirror in a pinch. The finish adds an air of elegance that stands out and makes darn sure you’ll never forget where it is on your pedalboard. Controls are Level, Drive, Tone, and Glass. The Level and Drive controls are standard sized black knobs with white pointers while the Tone and Glass controls are smaller, black trim posts. Not only does having the trim posts conserve real estate on the face of the pedal, it also stops the Tone and Glass controls from getting bumped or easily moved. Level controls the overall signal and Drive sets the amount of overdrive. Tone and Glass are slightly different in design from traditional pedals (I’d never seen a Glass control on a pedal before) in that Tone is a treble softener or treble cut, kind of like a Vox AC30. Turning the Tone clockwise darkens or “softens” the treble. Glass, on the other hand, increases treble response without cutting bass. As you might guess, the push and pull between these two controls makes up a very wide range of tonal options.

In Play
Admittedly I cheated a bit and checked out the fantastic clips on the Lovepedal site before the Kalamazoo arrived, so plugging in there was a relatively high level of expectation already set. I began with the Les Paul and Marshall dialed in to a slightly dirty clean tone and set the pedal controls midway. Aside from the boost in volume, the first thing that struck me is how the Kalamazoo added its own signature while leaving the Les Paul/Marshall sound distinguishable. This setting was slightly darker than I anticipated, so I dialed back the Tone to fully counterclockwise, which opened up the sound significantly. Hearing how wide the sweep was, I decided to crank the Glass control, which added a good deal of bite without sounding brittle or harsh. This is where the beauty of the Glass control comes in. Most pedals don’t retain bass the same way when you crank up the treble control, and I appreciate the fact that this didn’t erase the “knock” I so love about Marshalls. Bringing the Drive up to higher levels increased sustain and harmonics while slightly compressing the sound more. It made everything denser and more complex, yet I could still hear every note clearly in chords—no small feat. The real treat came when I dimed the Level and pulled the Drive back to around 11:00. This setting became my favorite because it pushed the front end of the amp beautifully to make notes explosive and percussive. Surprisingly, even in the most extreme settings there was a negligible amount of noise added to the overall hum of the Marshall. In fact, it was downright quiet by any pedal standards. Rolling off the guitar’s volume knob didn’t totally clean up the sound, but it didn’t matter because the tone was killer even if there was some residual grit leftover.

Moving on to the Strat/Marshall combination, the Kalamazoo proved that it isn’t a one-trick pony. All the Stratiness came through and the guitar’s chime turned into a buttery and luscious tone that retained the majority of top end while somehow not sounding shrill. My beef with Strats is also their strength, that sparkly top end, but sometimes it can get a bit ice-picky with the wrong amp. Not to worry with this pedal, as any harshness was gone just by stomping it on. One setting that floored me was the Level up to around noon, the Drive down all the way, the Glass cranked. While slightly overdriven, the note definition was incredible and notes sweetly sustained before effortlessly feeding back to a beautiful bloom. Everything just sounded bigger and it gave my playing an instant boost of confidence. Nice!

The Hamer/American Dream combination fared equally as well, barking out big chords with the P-90s and feeling powerful and bold. With just a bit of extra Drive, the P-90s sounded like massive humbuckers while never getting overly grainy or undefined. And oh, the dynamic response…it’s amazing. You can go from a whisper to a roar with just the touch of your hand, which was truly inspiring.

If there was anything I wanted it was probably just a hair more treble response. There were times when I wished the Tone would go to -1 and the Glass went to 11, just for that extra push over the cliff. Then again, my amps weren’t set to be neutral, so it would be possible to dial in more brightness on the amp end of things. Either way, the tone was always stellar and inspiring.

The Verdict
The Kalamazoo is a winner. It imparts its own signature tonal stamp and has enough flexibility to go from slightly overdriven to blooming gain that sings like there’s no tomorrow. Anyone looking for gain and beauty (in tone and looks) in one pedal will very happy with it.
Buy if...
sweet sustain, chime and touch dynamics are what you want
Skip if...
you need more bite and treble in your overdrive

Street $199 - Lovepedal - lovepedal.com