guitar pedal

An overachieving overdrive that gets way bigger than its name suggests.

Sweet balanced crunch tones. Dynamic. Sparkling, full, and clean at attenuated guitar volume. High-quality build.

Pretty expensive.

$249

Great Eastern FX Small Speaker Overdrive
greateasternfx.com

5
4.5
4.5
4

Overdrive pedals don’t often set my world alight—even great ones. But I’ve spent a month with the England-built Great Eastern FX Small Speaker Overdrive, and it remains attached to the other end of my coil-y cable. Ostensibly, the Small Speaker is meant to be a variation on the tweed-Fender-Champ-in-a-box theme. However, both the pedal’s name and the Champ associations fail to do justice to how large and alive it sounds and feels tethered to a bigger amp.

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An octave/fuzz/modulation combo platter fit for freaks of all stripes.

Wide variety of wacky and practical tones on hand. Intuitive controls. Effective expression pedal control.

Extreme settings might be dangerous to your speakers.

$199

MXR Poly Blue Octave
jimdunlop.com

4.5
4
4
4.5

MXR’s Blue Box has always been an outlier on the octave-pedal scene. One of the company’s earliest offerings, it drops a guitar signal by two octaves and blasts it with fuzz. Despite remaining active in the MXR stable throughout much of its history, the Blue Box is mostly celebrated in the deepest pedal-nerd hang sessions once all the classic fuzz, overdrive, and delay pedals have been discussed and things get weird.

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Stop Dave ... this fuzz may blow the whole freaking ship apart!

Expansive range of massive to fizzy fuzz tones. Killer studio tool. Top-notch build. Looks awesome.

Clipping options can make gain settings a maze.

$199

Acorn TMA-1
acornamps.com

5
5
4
4

I’ll admit it: The Kubrick fanatic in me made it impossible to ignore the HAL 9000-inspired Acorn TMA-1. But I would love the sound of this thing if it looked like an egg carton. Acorn calls the TMA-1 a four-stage transistor fuzz, which is generally shorthand for “Big Muff.” The circuit board looks the part. And certainly, the TMA-1’s biggest voice is as brutish as the nastiest Big Muff. But it’s also highly tunable. The tone knob ranges from doomy to garage-psych ’66 sizzly. There are plenty of growly sub-maximum gain settings to work with, and a ton of volume on tap, too.

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