JColoccia Big Cannoli Overdrive Review
A Brit-flavored overdrive that walks the fine line between rowdy and refined.
Overdrives—and the players that use them—can be a very divergent set. Because the effect bridges boost and distortion, some players look for a pedal that roars, while others seek only a subtle tone shift.
The op amp-driven JColoccia Big Cannoli resides primarily on the bolder end of the spectrum. It has a British essence, sounding at times like a compressed and cranked AC-30, and sometimes like a grinding Marshall Super Lead. It’s not exclusively a “Brit amp in a box”—it offers cool, boxy TS shades and high-mid gain settings with an almost Klon-like refinement. But the Big Cannoli’s essence is more sledgehammer than sculpting knife. Any player that loves organic, rambunctious mid-gain rock tones stands a fair chance of falling for its high-calorie crunch.
Tricolore Triple Switch
If you’re accustomed to three-knob TS-style overdrives or one-knob boosters, the Cannoli’s four knobs and toggle switch may look comparatively busy. But the controls are simple to navigate and intuitive in practice.
While the volume and gain knobs are standard overdrive fare, and the bass and treble knobs are self-explanatory, the three-position toggle’s function is less obvious. The tight setting rolls off a little bass, adding focus. The cut setting (which seems to primarily cut lows) also adds focus, but with an emphasis on midrange presence. The fat setting provides the widest harmonic range and the most bass-heavy tones. The differences between the settings can seem subtle at times, but at higher volumes and with high-power amps, the differences become much more apparent, revealing the many facets of the Big Cannoli’s personality
Growling Like a Big Cat, Kicking Like a Horse
When it comes to straight-up riffage and power chords, the Big Cannoli is tough to beat. In the cut or tight position with a semi-hollow Rickenbacker driving the works, the pedal dishes the growling, overtone-rich drive that made young Noel Gallagher’s Epiphone-and-Marshall tones so feral and hypnotic. P-90s are a perfect match if you love rowdy, hell-bent-for-leather, Angus-and-Malcom rhythm propulsion. And if you throw the fat switch on, you can make a Fender Deluxe combo sound like a stack punishing the front row at Madison Square Garden.
Lead tones have a more cultivated and sometimes tamer personality. Even at presence-enhancing settings there’s a certain smoothness to the Big Cannoli—a combination of compression and harmonic evenness equally well suited to silky jazz-rock leads and atmospheric space rock.
For players who prefer a little more savagery, the Big Cannoli might be a touch too smooth. The treble control lacks the top-end range that can make a lead really sail over a mix. And players that dig the Big Cannoli’s Marshall-like sound on crunchy chords might find the lack of raw, metallic, plectrum-on-string immediacy in single notes a curious sonic disconnect. That doesn’t mean aggressive lead tones are absent—with P-90s and hotter humbuckers you can hit the cut switch and max the treble for slicing Paul Kosoff tones. In general though, the Big Cannoli’s strength as a lead boost is its ability to lend smoother, contoured, and more civilized edges to big Brit-style lead tones.
The ease with which the Big Cannoli delivers big English-style crunch—regardless of the amp—is a minor marvel. Whether you’re in a studio with a Fender Blues Jr. or onstage with a borrowed Twin, you can create the illusion of stack-scale humungousness. That makes the pedal a potentially invaluable backline solution, especially for players that primarily ply classic rock waters. Lead tones are exceptionally smooth and controlled. The never-too-heavy compression (particularly in the lows and low-mids) is a great match for all three voices. And though the range of the EQ controls can seem narrow at times, they provide an easy-to-navigate canvas with few high-end spikes when pairing the Cannoli with higher-gain pedals or hotter amps or pickups. For players working in the studio or coping with an ever-changing backline, this combination of silk glove and pugilist’s fist could be a major asset.