One Boost Pedal to Rule Them All?

Yeah, it does “pristine,” but it also offers ferocious, incredibly touch-sensitive fuzz—minus the noise. The PG ThorpyFX Heavy Water review.

Recorded using a Celestion Ruby-loaded Goodsell Valpreaux 21 miked with a Royer R-121 feeding an Apogee Duet going into GarageBand with no EQ-ing, compression, or effects.
Clip 1: Squier Tele with Curtis Novak JV-M neck and Tele-V bridge pickups, first with the Heavy Water bypassed, then with right channel engaged (boost at 8 o’clock, lows at 2:30), then with left channel also engaged (boost at 1 o’clock, lows at noon), then with Heavy Water completely bypassed, then with left channel alone, then with both channels again.
Clip 2: Gibson Les Paul with 57 Classics, first with bridge pickup and Heavy Water bypassed, then with right channel engaged (boost at 11 o’clock, lows at max), then with left channel also engaged (boost at max, lows at 10 o’clock)—first on bridge pickup, then neck and bridge—then with just Heavy Water’s left channel engaged the middle pickup position selected.


Fantastic array of sounds, from crystalline boost to incredibly touch-sensitive fuzz—minus the hiss. Impeccable design, materials, and build.



ThorpyFX Heavy Water


Ease of Use:



ThorpyFX’s Heavy Water “dual high-headroom boost” features two independently footswitchable circuits. The right side, based on the boost from the company’s Dane pedal, cascades into the similarly voiced left side, which is also outfitted with grit-giving germanium diodes. Each circuit has just two controls: boost and lows.

While boost pedals—even very good ones—are a dime a dozen these days, what sets Heavy Water apart is designer/builder Adrian Thorpe’s uncompromising approach. From the clever and seemingly bulletproof custom enclosure to the top-quality materials and pristine circuit execution, it’s hard to imagine how it could be improved. This, of course, would matter little if it didn’t all add up to killer tones—particularly when routed through a hardworking tube amp.

Heavy Water alone yielded 95 percent of the sounds I normally get from three pedals on my own board—including raging fuzz.

The fine-tuned lows controls are unexpectedly essential and flexible: They don’t just add oomph, they actually reduce bass and low mids, yielding cool, unfamiliar sounds from your amp. Depending on the boost setting, Heavy Water’s right side can go from adding immaculately crystalline sheen to lovely, compressed breakup and Hiwatt-esque brawn and snarkiness, while the left adds a range of dirt from mild to seething, if not quite metal-level hot. Together, they proffer tons of gorgeousness. In fact, Heavy Water alone yielded 95 percent of the sounds I normally get from three pedals on my own board—including raging fuzz with both remarkably low background noise and mind-boggling sensitivity to playing and volume-knob dynamics.

Test Gear: Squier Tele, Jaguar, and baritone Jazzmaster all with Curtis Novak pickups (JM-V and Tele-V, JAG-Vs, and JM-WRs), Gibson Les Paul with 57 Classics, Goodsell Valpreaux 21, Fender Vibrolux Reverb and Rumble 200

A maze of modulation and reverberations leads down many colorful tone vortices.

Deep clanging reverb tones. Unexpected reverb/modulation combinations.

Steep learning curve for a superficially simple pedal.


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