Quick Hit: Henretta Tone Xciter Review
Dig cocked-wah sounds? What very well may be the world's smallest set-it-and-forget-it option has some pretty cool tricks up its sleeve.
Recorded using a Squier Vintage Modified Telecaster Custom with Curtis Novak Tele-V bridge and JM-V neck pickup going into a Celestion Ruby-stocked Goodsell Valpreaux 21miked with a Royer R-121 feeding an Apogee Duet going into GarageBand with no EQ-ing, compression, or effects.
Clip 1: Tele in middle pickup position at first, then bridge position, with Tone Xciter first bypassed, then activated with frequency trimpot at noon and intensity trimpot at 1 o’clock.
Clip 2: Tele neck pickup with Tone Xciter first bypassed, then activated with frequency and intensity trimpots both at 3 o’clock.
Sturdy, space-saving avenue to a nice array of cocked-wah sounds.
Subtler sounds could use a gain boost. Frequency and intensity controls not accessible externally.
Ease of Use:
One of the easiest ways to make your guitar instantly stick out of a mix without kicking on a boost is to step on a wah, find a fittingly strident sweet spot, and leave it. Love this trick enough, and you’ll dig that Henretta Engineering’s Tone Xciter makes it possible without sacrificing song time or precious board space. It’s about a third the size of even the smallest wah, and roughly an eighth the footprint of big suckers.
All you see up top on the Xciter is a footswitch, a green LED, and the side-mounted 1/4" and 9V connections, but, inside, two trimpots yield tones for tons of tastes. Frequency selects the band-pass filter’s peak frequency, going from subtle mids at minimum to a pronounced treble accent at max, while intensity is something of a tone control—mellow at minimum, pointed and aggressive at max. In all, there are enough engaging, practical, even startling sounds to make you wish externally accessible mini pots would give you all these goods without having to remove four screws. (Those who favor subtler settings might also yearn for a boost control to compensate for a perceived loss in volume.) That said, tweakers of a certain stripe will love that you can swap out the Xciter’s TL072 dual-JFET op-amp chip with other 8-pin ICs to experiment with tones in a whole new way.
Test gear: Squier Vintage Modified Telecaster Custom with Curtis Novak JM-V and Tele-V pickups, Squier/Warmoth baritone “Jazzblaster” with Curtis Novak JM-WR pickups, Ground Control Tsukuyomi, Goodsell Valpreaux 21, 1976 Fender Vibrolux Reverb