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Elite Tone Fillmore Thunder Pedal Review

The Fillmore Thunder delivers both fuzz and Octavia for any Jimi-inspired guitarist

Download Example 1
Clean chords with just Octavia section
Download Example 2
Background riff with the fuzz section of the pedal with guitar turned down to clean it up. Lead is full-blown Octavia section.
Clips recorded with a stock vintage '57 reissue Strat and Vox AC-50 with two Celestion G12H 30s. Some reverb added.
For decades, guitar players have sought some of the sacred tones of their icons. There is an unfathomable number of fuzz and overdrive circuits based on old pedals such as Stevie Ray’s TS-808 Ibanez Tube Screamer and Jimi Hendrix’s Fuzz Face. Some of the most chased tones are the ones produced by Jimi Hendrix. Although his distortion tone and use of Wah-Wah are highly recognized, it his introduction of the Octavia pedal that stands out for many players. Although used on songs like “Purple Haze,” one of the best examples of this pedal can be heard on the song “Who Knows” from the Band of Gypsys album.

The Fuzz
The Elite Tone Fillmore Thunder takes on two of the most popular tones from this era of Hendrix. The first is the Fuzz Face tone. Although Hendrix used many different Fuzz Faces at different times in his life, it is widely believed that by the end of his career he was using one equipped with BC 108 transistors. There is a very audible difference between this type and the NK 275-equipped units he may have used before that. The Fillmore Thunder starts with a BC 108 designed circuit with some interesting changes to facilitate the differences they found between his various units. (It is believed that some secret modifications were added to many of Jimi’s units to optimize them further to his liking.)

The controls on the Fillmore Thunder are Bias, Fuzz, Gain, and Volume. There are also two foot switches—one for off/on and the other for bringing in the Octave circuit. The Volume, of course, sets the output level of the pedal. The Fuzz control does what its name suggests and sets the amount of distortion or fuzz.

The Bias control has a very interesting function. It effectively sets the bias voltage for the transistors. When turned all the way up, it produces a tighter, less compressed distortion. It is much tighter than an original unit, and tends to clean up better when the volume on the guitar is reduced. All the way the other end of its range yields a more compressed tone that’s a bit more distorted. I found that a setting of about one o ‘clock sounded the most like the original unit I have, but with the Bias control, this pedal accurately reproduced the tones of other BC 108 Fuzz Face units I have heard. Strangely, increasing the Bias a bit more takes you closer to the NKT-type units.

Many Fuzz Face users know that changing the guitar’s volume results in a vast spectrum of tones, but many don’t know that it’s not always the full volume-up sound you are looking for to capture early Hendrix tones. Enter the Gain control. This control lets you tune the pedal exactly to your guitar’s output. The knob makes it easy to dial in the desired tone—even with humbuckers.

The Octavia
I have often said that Octavias are instruments unto themselves. Backing down the volume creates a ring-modulated sound and picking adjacent strings produces an octave-down. The right balance of distortion-to-octave effect is sometimes hard to achieve. With modern amps that have distortion channels, it is not always a good thing to add more distortion to the sound. With vintage, non-master volume amps it is a must. This Octavia section is a thing of beauty. For the modern players, the octave switch may be turned on with the clean octave setting resulting in the most screaming Octavia sound your Soldano, Diezel, Bogner, etc has ever produced. With the fuzz engaged, vintage amps sound amazing as well. This is the most controllable Octavia I’ve ever played. Usually Octavias are used on the neck pickup and above the seventh fret; this one tracks well throughout the fingerboard and even works well on the bridge pickup.

The Final Mojo
I found the Elite Tone Fillmore Thunder pedal to be a great, warm fuzz with a killer Octavia section. It compared very favorably against all original units I compared it to, and the construction seems solid. The pedal is a great tool for a Jimi-inspired guitarist to have in his arsenal of tone.
Buy if...
if you are looking for classic Hendrix tones with a few new surprises.
Skip if...
if you are not into fuzz and ring modulated type sounds.

MSRP $177 - Elite Tone -