An impressive taste of what lurks in the King’s chambers for players on a budget.
Thick, smooth boost and overdrive tones that don’t obscure guitar and amplifier voices. Highly dynamic and touch sensitive. Crazily versatile. Great value.
Distortion voice can feel significantly less dynamic and more compressed.
MXR Duke of Tone
The first time I understood the magic of Analog Man’s King of Tone was in a casual conversation with Luther Dickinson. Luther is a warm, enthusiastic guy who can light up talking about a tree, a drum machine, or an old car. But even Luther waxed a little extra rhapsodically when he talked about the King of Tone—and this was from a guy that, given his druthers, would probably, quite happily, never use a boost or overdrive pedal at all.
Luther is far from the only player to be moved by the King of Tone and its little brother, the Prince of Tone. Both pedals often show up among professional players’ stomp arrays. But as just about any dedicated reader knows, the waiting list for either pedal is almost as legendary as the devices themselves. So, the fact that the Analog Man himself, Mike Piera, teamed up with MXR and their own resident genius, Jeorge Tripps, to distill the essence and functionality of the Analog Man’s Prince of Tone into a mini pedal will be very sweet news to a lot of impatient Prince-customers-in-waiting.
Heir to the Throne
The original King of Tone is built around a really excellent overdrive and boost that are controlled independently and can be reconfigured so the boost drives the overdrive and vice versa. MXR’s Duke of Tone mimics the more streamlined layout of the Analog Man’s Prince of Tone. Like that pedal, it can be switched between overdrive, boost, and distortion modes, and features volume, tone, and drive controls. And like the Prince of Tone, it also features an internal pot for boosting or cutting treble. The only real differences between the control layouts is that the Duke of Tone lacks two DIP switches that, on the Prince of Tone, offer the option for a low-mid frequency lift and a little extra compression and crunch..
Inside, the Duke of Tone provides more than a few hints of Mike Piera’s stickler-for-quality influence. A lot of mini pedals I see—for reasons related to economy of space and cost—look churned out by robots bought at a Star Wars-style used-droid auction. The Duke of Tone reveals no such signs of cutting corners. The through-hole-board construction is flawless, and the circuit is built around a 4580D op amp, just as you would find in the King of Tone. Some pedal scientists argue the significance of differences between op amps. Many, however—Mike Piera among them—insist there are real, audible differences. Personally, I’m inclined to defer to the Analog Man. And whether the 4580D here is a primary driver of the Duke of Tone’s personality or a smaller part of the sum, there is no arguing that the whole sounds pretty awesome.
Three Flavors of Smooth, Delicious Chocolate
The first King of Tone pedal originated in a tone chase that began with a broken TS808 Tube Screamer and detoured through a Marshall Bluesbreaker pedal before arriving—via many significant mutations—at its final destination. So, it is not a surprise, perhaps, that in some ways the overdrive mode in the Duke of Tone sounds a little like an aerated TS circuit: scooped in the middle, softened in the high harmonics where the sizzle lives, and allowed to breathe to the point of sounding discernibly more dimensional. The Duke’s overdrive can handle a lot more treble without becoming strident, which gives you plenty of room to explore picking nuance—an attribute that shines in all three of the Duke of Tone’s drive modes. It also means guitar-volume-attenuated tones feel much livelier and more detailed, which translates to more touch dynamics. In a purely tactile sense, the Duke of Tone just plain feels more awake than a TS and more akin to a Klon, a circuit that shares a similar sense of dynamic range. While unmistakably rich, big chords from the Duke of Tone still sound a touch grindy and narrow compared to the meaty, full-frequency bellow of a good Klon-style circuit. But I found the Duke’s chord tones no less appealing—just different.
The Duke’s boost mode is easily my favorite of the three voices. It is almost certainly the loudest. But it is also the most nuanced and the most responsive to dynamics, whether from guitar volume attenuation or variation in touch and picking intensity. On the latter count, the boost is often revelatory. The variations in texture and volume you can achieve by way of touch intensity—indeed, just with a change of attitude—is beautiful stuff. And I suspect much of the original King of Tone’s legend was made here. Klon fans, particularly those who utilize that pedal’s capacity for touch sensitivity, will find much to love in this mode. But there is something special about the way this boost operates at advanced volume, drive, and tone settings. It’s thick, massive, and, yes, transparent. But it also feels exceptionally electric and alive. Situated on either the up- or down-river side of another overdrive, it can make your same old OD tone into something mammoth and nuanced. Downstream from a fuzz, it’s positively deadly.
The distortion mode may be the voice that appeals least to folks inclined to chase a King or Prince of Tone to the ends of the Earth. At many settings it sounds like a more compressed and less complex version of the overdrive, with more gain. At others, though, there’s more than a trace of organic and almost Marshall-like tonalities. And guitar volume reductions can yield cool, sparkling semi-clean sounds.
I had the good fortune to receive the Duke of Tone in time for a show that required moving between very soft-and-quiet and searing Neil Young-style lead sounds. What impressed me was how much of that dynamism I was able to achieve with just my fingers, guitar volume, and the Duke of Tone. This is a pedal with few shortcomings. Overdrive and distortion sounds can seem slightly compressed compared to certain overdrives and boosts—a good Klon-style pedal for example. Then again, the boost voice offers just as much meat and oxygen as those pedals at many levels, and the touch response is every bit as good. At 149 bucks, the Duke of Tone is a real value and the very picture of boost and overdrive versatility. Given the price and quality, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it ends up with wait lists of its own.
MXR Duke of Tone Demo | First Look
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Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.
Mystery Stocking is coming soon! Sign up for PG Perks below so you don't miss it.
Sign up for PG Perks on the form below to make sure you don't miss the launch announcement!
About Mystery Stocking
Each year, Premier Guitar likes to put out these mystery boxes as a part of bringing some fun to the holiday season. Remember, this is supposed to be a fun holiday treat! If the contents of this box will ruin your holiday, deplete the last of your bank account, or end your ability to see the good in humanity, it may not be for you.
- This year's Mystery Stocking will cost $44.95. ($39.95 + $5 Flat shipping)
- Each box will be guaranteed to contain $40 or more in value.
- US only. (Sorry World.)
- Make sure your shipping address is correct.
- Have your credit card ready to go before you refresh the page. Paypal is not available. Autofill may not fill in your information.
- There will be NO REFUNDS given.
- There has been a huge demand for these in the past. We really did sell out in less than 4 minutes last year. When they are gone, they are gone.
- One per household, one per person.
Q: What's in the Mystery Stocking?
A: It wouldn't be much of a surprise if we told you, now would it?
Q: Will I definitely get my money worth?
Q: Can I return it if I don't like it?
A: Nope. All sales final.
Q: What if I live outside the US?
A: Sorry, US only.
Q. How much is it?
A. $39.95 Plus $5 shipping
Q. When will it ship?
A. On or before December 10, 2022.
Q. What form of payment do you accept?
A. Credit cards only. Sorry, no Paypal for this.
Q. Can I ship to a different location than my billing address?
Q. I tried last year and didn't get one. Will I get one this year?
A. There is an overwhelming demand for Mystery Stocking. Be sure you have a fast internet connection and be ready when they go on sale. Last year we sold out in 3 min 33 seconds.
Q. I want to buy 5. How can I buy 5?
A. You can't. This year, we're limiting to one per household, so more people can get in on the fun!
Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
Origin Effects introduce the new M-EQ DRIVER mid booster & drive pedal. Based on a vintage Pultec studio EQ, this unique pedal offers a range of mid-focused tones, from a subtle mid boost to thick, resonant overdrive. Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
A choice of three mid-range frequencies ensures that you can boost just the right part of your guitar signal and, when pushed harder, can elicit a range of saturation from a classic “mid-hump” overdrive to fierce “cocked wah” distortion. Thanks to the Adaptive Circuitry, the high-end roll-off of the Cut control is reduced as the pedal cleans up. This allows for a smooth transition from warm overdrive to bright clean tones in response to playing dynamics or guitar volume knob changes.
Introducing... M-EQ DRIVER || Mid Booster & Drive
Built-in the UK to the highest standards, the M-EQ DRIVER continues the Origin Effects tradition of vintage, studio-inspired tones in modern guitar pedals. The Origin Effects M-EQ DRIVER is available now from Origin Effects dealers worldwide.
RRP: 259 GBP (Inc VAT) / 319 USD (Ex TAX)
For more information, please visit origineffects.com.
The new finish, according to Lava Music, is “inspired by the beauty of the golden hour,” a shining time just before sunset and after sunrise when photographers covet to capture stunning pictures.
With bright and warm golden hues, the new finish adds a brilliant metallic glow to the surface of Lava ME 3, complementing its AirSonic 2 carbon fiber unibody which features L3 Preamp with FreeBoost 2.0, delivers industry-leading sounds by breakthrough acoustic technologies, and houses a multi-touch display powered by Lava-developed HILAVA system.
Speaking of the HILAVA system, Lava Music also added four new effects: Nebula, Desert Rose, Cassette, and Edge of Breakup. As unique as their names sound, they are very much different from what we normally know about effects. Programmed into the HILAVA system, each of the four is powered by the company’s latest ArctanDrive algorithm and incorporates effects like Pitch Shift, Delay, and Reverb. And every one of those incorporated sub-effects comes with various parameters that players can adjust to design unique, overdriven sounds by just tapping on the multi-touch display. That said, those effects enable users to play with overdriven tone on an acoustic-electric guitar without even plugging in any external gear.
LAVA ME 3 | Now in Golden Hour | LAVA MUSIC
Lava Me 3 in Golden Hour is now available starting from $999 on LAVA MUSIC, Amazon, and local guitar dealerships near you.
For more information, please visit store.lavamusic.com.