Thursday, April 25, 2013

Review: Earthquaker Devices Tone Reaper

The Earthquaker Devices Tone Reaper is a silicon/germanium hybrid based on the three-knob Tone Bender. If you are looking for Jimmy Page tones, you can find them in the Tone Bender. You can also nail many of the Black Keys thickfreakness tones.

I’ve played a ton of Tonebenders over the last few years. Some have been outstanding, others have been horrible. The Tone Reaper is the best of the three knobbers. Like every Earthquaker Devices pedal I have encountered, it’s amazingly low-noise considering the amount of gain on tap. I don’t know how they make such dynamic (and ragged and raging if you want) fuzz pedals and yet keep them hum/hiss/squeal-free. Whatever they do, it’s working.

I tried the Tone Reaper with a few different guitars. I liked it with humbuckers and especially with a tele bridge pickup. But I LOVED it with P90s. Running my Reverend Ron Asheton into the Reaper and then into my Reverend Goblin (modified to a 1x12 with a Cannabis Rex) was thick and nasty, with borderline endless sustain. The Tone Reaper seems to just love P90s. It latches on to those snarling mids and wraps them in gritty fuzz that’s bright but not piercing. Low notes compress and bloom and high notes ring out. The subtleties of neck, middle, and bridge pickups shine through the fuzz and provide a broad range of tones. Most Tone Benders won’t clean up like a Fuzz Face, and the Tone Reaper is no exception. But backing off the volume slightly provides a few more shades of dirt.

Like the Dirt Transmitter, the Tone Reaper is another fuzz that can do cool things with an overdrive (TS and Klone in my case) preceding it. Setting the fuzz at about 1 o'clock makes for a pretty thick fuzz that's still touch sensitive. Hitting the Tone Reaper with a Cusack Screamer set for minimal drive, tone at noon, and output just above unity adds some extra mids to the Tone Reaper without drastically changing the overall tone. It's great for making leads jump out of the mix.

All said, the Tone Reaper is great. If you're looking for one pedal that can span the range of Tonebenders, or just looking for a new flavor of fuzz, you need to check out the Tone Reaper.

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