Radial Engineering has been making their original Tonebone series of great sounding, tube-based distortions for quite a while now. Though they are well-respected in the guitar community for their wealth of utility items, such as amp and cabinet switchers, direct boxes, effects loop switchers, etc., they haven’t yet garnered the love afforded some of the other distortion pedal makers, whether mass-market or boutique.

There are several possible explanations: One possibility is that their mass-produced image has them being compared to much larger companies like Boss, Ibanez, and Digitech, making people miss the fact that the pedals are actually boutique quality. More likely, the plethora of controls on the Tonebone pedals cause guitarists to be stricken with option anxiety, while the unit’s large footprint, tube fragility, and specialized power needs have made them less welcome on many pedalboards than smaller, simpler, more bullet-proof pedals. Maybe Radial had similar thoughts, because their new Bones series of overdrives are tubeless; run on a standard Boss-style, 1 Spot, or Switchblade adapter; and take up less then half the space of the tube models.

The Hollywood Dual Distortion, Texas Dual Overdrive, London Dual Distortion pedals come in identical, solid, stamped-metal casings, and all share some design concepts. Each employs a buffering circuit with preset load correction that Radial states, “retains the performance of true bypass connectivity while lowering the impedance and susceptibility to noise.” This enables them to efficiently drive the guitar signal when using longer cables, and to employ Radial’s EIS -- Electronic Impulse Switching, which the company claims improves switch durability. The switches certainly seemed robust enough during testing. All of the Bones pedals sport top mounted I/O connections to allow maximum pedalboard density. The similarities in the three models are restricted to form; when it comes to function, we will see that they are very different animals.

All three pedals were tested with a Fender Stratocaster equipped with DiMarzio Virtual Vintage pickups, a Fernandes Tele, and a Stromberg Monterey semi-hollow equipped with DiMarzio EJ Custom humbucking pickups, alternately running through an Orange Tiny Terror head and a Reverend Hellhound combo.