Warm, articulate, natural overdrive and distortion tones offer an alternative to the same old OD blues. The PG Cascade Hosstortion review.
A characterful overdrive with great touch sensitivity, excellent clarity, and versatile EQ. An able recreation of a hard-to-find classic.
No major negatives, but it's worth knowing whether a MOSFET overdrive is your cup of tea before spending the cash on this one.
Cascade Pedals Hosstortion
Ease of Use:
Cascade, a creative pedal maker based in the western North Carolina town of Asheville, builds a lot of custom stomps. The Hosstortion, however, is a new entry into its growing production lineup. The circuit, as Cascade main-man Charlie Mostoller tells us, is a “modern reimagining" of the rare and sought-after Ibanez MT10 Mostortion pedal of the early '90s, a MOSFET-based distortion-overdrive beloved for its thick, warm mids, biting clarity, and walloping low end.
Although the CMOS op-amps used in the original Ibanez were discontinued 15 years ago, the creation of powerful new BiMOS chips enables Cascade to re-cast the Ibanez formula with more gain, while retaining the versatile EQ and basic voice of the MT10. Further nods to modern performance include a bipolar charge pump for added headroom and lower noise, and premium true-bypass switching.
Cascade's custom enclosures can be pretty creative. The company's Scooby-Doo Fuzz, for example, is housed in a repurposed toy Mystery Machine. The Hosstortion, however, is built in a standard enclosure and finished in striking sour-apple-green metallic with graphics that echo the MT10's original design motif. (Sadly, Cascade didn't use the Pac-Man-style knobs that distinguished the MT10.) Controls include dirt (gain), level, high, mid, and low. The bypass switch is held tight by an anodized lug nut. Cascade warns that the Hosstortion should only be used with a 9V center-negative power supply, and there's no 9V battery option.
It's worth noting that although the pedal has “distortion" in its name, it's not meant to be a screaming high-gain metal machine, but more of a medium-gain overdrive, or a vintage-style low-gain distortion. Starting at low gain settings reminds you that good MOSFET overdrives possess many distinct, individual characteristics. (Marshall famously used MOSFET overdrive to get as close to possible to tube-style distortion in their '80s solid-state amps, which have fans to this day.)
Even at conservative settings on the gain knob (around 9 to 10 o'clock), the Mosstortion is thick, rich, and juicy, and it's great for goosing a Tele-style bridge pickup into slightly gnarlier twang zones. And in this way, it's a fantastic pedal for switching on and forgetting—adding depth and personality to an amp when you can't crank it up into its sweet spot.
Throughout its gain and EQ ranges, the Hosstortion consistently delivers a very enjoyable blend of articulation, girth, and, at times, a raw edge that lends texture without getting harsh or blocky. Higher gain settings elicit smooth complex-but-saturated overdrive that tends more toward singing solos or chunky power chords, while retaining an edgy bark that is signature MOSFET. Even with the gain up to 3 o'clock, it's still extremely transparent. It's also very responsive to guitar volume attenuation, leaving you with a beefy but characterful near-clean tone when you turn down.
I don't have an original Ibanez MT10 on hand to A/B with the Hosstortion (and acquiring one on the vintage market would probably cost $400 to $600), but to the extent that memory serves me, the Hosstortion sounds and feels much like the Mostortion that I occasionally played in the late '90s, and it's an impressive encapsulation of the natural, warm-to-mildly-aggressive tones and response that made MOSFET overdrives appealing in the first place.
The Hosstortion isn't just a ruggedly built and cleverly conceived reimagining of the iconic Ibanez Mostortion of the early '90s. It's a characterful and dynamic overdrive by any measure. It maintains surprising transparency amid the thick, rich textured voicing, and it's an excellent alternative to the more ubiquitous TS-style template.
Watch the Video Demo:
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Created in collaboration with legendary guitarist George Lynch of Dokken and Lynch Mob fame, the Mr.Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage and an onboard Deep control, which together are designed to enable an amp to have increased sustain while still retaining note definition and dynamics.
LegendaryTones, LLC today announced production availability of its new Mr. Scary Mod, a 100% pure tube module designed to instantly and easily expand the capabilities of many classic amplifiers with additional gain and tone shaping. Created in collaboration with legendary guitarist George Lynch of Dokken and Lynch Mob fame, the Mr.Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage and an onboard Deep control, which together are designed to enable an amp to have increased sustain while still retaining note definition and dynamics.
Originally released as the Lynch Mod in February 2021, the updated Mr. Scary Mod features the same core circuit as the Lynch Mod but is now equipped with a revised tube mix combo per George’s preference as well as a facelift in a newly redesigned electro-galvanized steel enclosure. As with the Lynch Mod, each run will be limited and the first run in Pumpkin Orange with Black hardware is limited to just 150 pieces worldwide.
The Mr. Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage on top of the cathode follower position, keeping note definition and articulation while further increasing sustain. Each Mr. Scary mod is meticulously built by hand in the USA, one at a time, and tuned using high-grade components. Equipped with a single ECC81 (12AT7) in the first position and ECC83 (12AX7) in the second, the Mr. Scary Mod can clean up beautifully when rolling down your guitar’s volume, and still adds scorching gain when you roll it back up. This is a gain stage that’s been tuned and approved by the ears of the maestro George Lynch himself.
“The Mr. Scary Mod excels with dynamics and is incredibly touch-responsive, allowing me to shift from playing clear, lightly compressed cleans to full-out aggressive sustain and distortion –and control it all simply by varying my guitar’s volume control and picking,” said GeorgeLynch. “In many ways, it’s an old-school approach, but it’s also so much more natural and expressive in addition to being musically fulfilling when you can play both the guitar and amp dynamically together this way.”
The Mr. Scary Mod installs in minutes, is safe and effective to use, and requires no special tools or re-biasing of the amplifier. Simply insert the module into the cathode follower preamp position of compatible amplifiers (includes Marshall 2203/2204/1959/1987 circuits) and
immediately get the benefit of enjoying a hot-rodded amp that delivers all the pure harmonic character that comes with an added pure tube gain stage. The handmade in the USA Mr. Scary Mod is now available to order for $319.
For more information, please visit legendarytones.com.
October Audio has miniaturized their NVMBR Gain pedal to create two mini versions of this beautifully organic-sounding circuit – including an always-on gain device.
The NVMBR Gain is a nonlinear amp that transitions gracefully from clean boost to overdriven tones. Volume increases from just over unity to about 10db before soft-clipping drive appears for another 5db of boost. Its extraordinary ease of use is matched by outstanding versatility: you can use it as a clean boost, push a stubborn amp into overdrive or create a just-breaking-up sound at any amp volume.
October Audio’s new family of mini NVMBR Gain pedals includes a switchable version that allows you to bypass the effect: one option features brand logo pedal graphics, while the other sports a fun “Witch Finger” graphic with a Davies knob as the“fingernail”.
The second version in the new lineup is an always-on device featuring the Witch Finger graphic and Davies knob, with the same NVMBR Gain circuit that lies at the core of the switchable version.
- Knob controls gain and clipping simultaneously
- Stunning silver hammertone finish
- Switchable versions are true-bypass, available with classic or witch finger graphics
- Authentic Davies knobs, including the “fingernail”
- 9V center negative power supply required
- Dimensions: 3.63 x 1.50 x 1.88 in
Witch Finger (always on NVMBR Gain) demo
All October Audio pedals are assembled in Richmond, VA, and available for purchase directly through the online shop. Street price is $109 for NVMBR Gain footswitch versions and $89 for the always-on device.
For more information, please visit octoberaudio.com.