Download example 1 Recorded with a Steinberger ZT3 and a Mesa Boogie Rectifier Italians have always seemed to possess a knack for luxury and a hint of the exotic.

Dino's Guitars Rust Box
Download example 1
Recorded with a Steinberger ZT3 and a Mesa Boogie Rectifier
Italians have always seemed to possess a knack for luxury and a hint of the exotic. It is apparent in the vision of Alessio Casati and Andreas Bagnasco, the luthier duo of Dino’s Guitars. The long-time friends from Savona, Italy have dedicated themselves to the Italian tradition of craftsmanship manufacturing custom guitars, speaker cabinets, and hand-wired pedals since 1995. Dino’s Guitars Rust Box overdrive/distortion is the flagship of their pedal line. It’s housed in a lightweight aluminum chassis and assembled using a mix of PCB and point-to-point construction. Features include dedicated Bass and Treble knobs, as well as Drive/Gain and Master Volume controls. There is also a three way mini toggle switch that selects between three distinct levels of distortion for a nearly endless combination of distortion types, ranging from just a hint of crunch to a flat-out searing drive that any metal junkie would love.

Rigorously tested with numerous guitars and amps, the Rust Box showed great diversity: it performed exceptionally well with single coil pickups on a Fender Stratocaster, a Dano ’63 Reissue, and a Burns Steer Cutaway, all through a Fender Deluxe. The Rust Box also worked well on a ‘73 Fender Jazz Bass and an early-seventies Hagstrom Swede bass. The Treble and Bass knobs helped tailor the Rust Box to each instrument without over-coloring the instrument’s personal character.

All in all, the Rust Box is a very well built overdrive/distortion pedal capable of a great variety of flavors. If you are looking for an all-purpose box, it definitely warrants a closer look. – SS
Buy If...
you’re into a great overdrive unit with lots of tone shaping.
Skip If...

you’re on a tight budget.
Rating...
4.5
MSRP $260 - Dino’s Guitars - dinosguitars.com


The Bass Metaphors is an all-purpose channel strip and distortion in one box made from lightweight aluminum.

Electro-Harmonix Bass Metaphors
Download example 1
Clean
Download example 2
Dirty
Recorded with US Masters EP41PJ straight into Nuendo
Electro Harmonix has recently released a number of dedicated bass offerings, including the Bass Metaphors. The Bass Metaphors is an all-purpose channel strip and distortion in one box made from lightweight aluminum. It features separate Gain controls for clean and distorted settings, as well as a two-band EQ with dedicated EQ level. There is also a blend knob for mixing the effected signal with your dry bass tone, and a mini toggle that switches on a preset compressor. The pedal has an XLR Direct out as well as dedicated 1/4” outputs for effected or non-effected signal.

The Metaphors was tested as a DI on a master session, with the tone controls and blend set at twelve o’clock. It immediately sounded warm and round with a Tobias Classic six-string. Notes over the entire tonal spectrum were thick, and the Metaphors handled the B string well. There was a bit of top end hiss at first, but it was controlled easily after rolling off some treble. Engaging the distortion yielded a great, tube-like grind that any rock bassists would enjoy. Adding the Metaphors compressor immediately tightened up the overdrive’s definition, making it more articulate. Switching back to clean with an NS Design electric upright offered a huge amount of growl fretless players will love.

Bassists are utilitarian by nature, and this box does it all. If you are into doing the job with one pedal in your gig bag this might just be it. – SS
Buy If...
you need an all-purpose DI with distortion.
Skip If...

you need a fully adjustable compressor.
Rating...
4.0
MSRP $158 - Electro Harmonix - ehx.com

The Ball Breaker uses Burr Brown opamps along with Wima, AVX, and Nichicon capacitors.

Geek MacDaddy British Ball Breaker
Download example 1
Recorded with a Burns Steer Cutaway and a Fender Deluxe
Professional musicians make their living by their tone, and no one knows it better than L.A. sideman Jeff Rubin, who’s shared the stage with artists like Oingo Boingo, Randy Jackson, and Chuck Berry. Jeff’s quest for tone led him to manufacturing his own hand-built pedals and Geek MacDaddy was born.

The latest offering is the British Ball Breaker overdrive/distortion, featuring a powder-coated aluminum chassis displaying Britain’s flag beside a jovial Rubin in guard’s uniform. The Ball Breaker uses Burr Brown opamps along with Wima, AVX, and Nichicon capacitors. The true bypass pedal also features Gain, Presence, Tone, and Volume controls for a number of tonal possibilities.

Keeping with British tradition, the Ball Breaker was tested with a Burns Steer Cutaway into the AC30-inspired Top Gain module of a Randall RM50. With Gain, Presence, and Tone all set at 12 o’clock, the Ball Breaker immediately nailed that classic British distortion reminiscent of Brian May or Jimmy Page. Adding some of the Ball Breaker’s Presence knob changed the character completely, leaning now more toward a Marshall-type tone, especially with the tone knob cranked.

Geek MacDaddy’s Ball Breaker is a great option for players looking for a warm, organic-sounding pedal. It responds like it’s actually part of your amp instead of a separate pedal. It may not be versatile enough for players in other genres like metal, but if you need classic overdrive this may be the box for you. – SS
Buy If...
you love the sound of classic British overdrive and distortion.
Skip If...

you need a modern scooped distortion sound.
Rating...
4.0
MSRP $205 - Geek MacDaddy - geekmacdaddy.com
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