Catalinbread Naga Viper Pedal Review

Catalinbread uses the Rangemaster as square one for the design of the Naga Viper—a treble boost with a little something extra.

Never as extroverted as say, the Fuzz Face, the Dallas Rangemaster has always been the retiring and modest wallflower of classic pedals. But that doesn’t mean its impact—or voice—has been anything less than huge. Its contribution to the cutting tones of players like Brian May and Rory Gallagher is undeniable. And Catalinbread uses the Rangemaster as square one for the design of the Naga Viper—a treble boost with a little something extra.

Deceptively Simple
A tube amp on the verge of overdriving itself is the ideal setting for any boost pedal. In this environment, clean boosts can do a great job of bumping an amp into overdrive territory for a solo or heavy rhythm part, though they can also muddy the low end. A Rangemaster-style treble boost produces a less spongy, muddy overdrive in the amplifier, making it a great tool for creating cutting tones and pushing your signal to the front of the mix.

Like the Dallas Rangemaster (and most boost pedals, for that matter), the Catalinbread Naga Viper is dead simple. There’s a bypass footswitch and Boost, Range, and Heat controls, all in a bright, custard-yellow stompbox that’s tough to miss on your pedalboard.

Treble Rebel
With my Gibson SG connected to the Naga Viper and a Fender Bassman, and all the pedal’s controls at noon, my first impression was a significant decrease in low end. By lowering the Range control, however, I was able to open up the low end without changing the high-frequency response. Even with the Range at its lowest setting, the Naga Viper still cuts some of the low frequencies, evoking the sound of a clean JCM800 Marshall.




With the Boost control dimed, the Naga Viper delivers roughly 10 dB of gain—plenty for sending a Bassman into a biting, articulate overdrive. But using the Heat control, you can shape the boosted signal even further. The Heat control is essentially an internal gain circuit, and while it produces no additional dB increase in the output, it creates the perception of a much louder, hotter signal. As the Heat control is increased, the signal becomes noisier and more compressed (which is pretty common for this type of effect), but it also adds presence and articulation to note attacks. And at its highest settings, it introduces a pleasing, hissy distortion. Like the Range control, the Heat function has a way of making a 6L6 or 6V6 amp sound a lot like a Marshall—that’s pretty cool for such a simple pedal.

The Verdict
With most boosters, you’re not going to get a lot of additional tonal versatility from the unit itself. Yet with the Naga Viper, Catalinbread gives treble-boost fans a few extra shades of color to work with. If you’re a veteran treble-boost user, it’s a great way to expand on the sonic territory you already know. But for first-time treble-boost users in particular, the Naga Viper offers a rewarding introduction to the immense possibilities of boost.
Buy if...
you’re looking for a versatile boost that evokes the seminal Rangemaster, but adds a little more color and grit.
Skip if...
you’re already sufficiently boosted.
Rating...


Street $169 - Catalinbread - catalinbread.com

<<< Previous Review: Celestial Effects Virgo Overdrive
Next Review: Empress Effects Compressor >>>

Iriondo has been a member of the Italian alt-rock outfit Afterhours since 1992. Here he’s playing a custom Epiphone SG Custom at an Afterhours show in 2015.

Photo by Emanuela Bonetti

The Italian maestro talks about the spiritual inspiration he draws from his Basque roots, as well as channeling his endless guitar-tinkering passions into his latest musical project, Buñuel.

Italian guitarist and sonic adventurer Xabier Iriondo has an affinity for the Basque term, metak—which literally means, “pile”—and he often incorporates it into the names of his various projects. His custom-built experimental guitar is the Mahai Metak (or “table pile”). Some of his unconventional musical collaborations also include the term, as in PhonoMetak and PhonoMetak Labs. And Sound Metak was the name of the eclectic shop he ran for about a decade in the early 2000s, which sold everything from boutique guitar pedals to shoes. (Check out his Instagram profile, which, in addition to pictures of his amazing collection of guitars, pedals, and vintage amps, is also a showcase for his impeccable taste in footwear).

Read More Show less

Megadeth founder teams up with Gibson for his first acoustic guitar in the Dave Mustaine Collection.

Read More Show less

The Atlas Compressor offers up an extensive library of compression options and allows for transformation into a bass specific compression machine.


Read More Show less
x