Barge Concepts BP-1

April 1, 2010

gp0410_gearbargebp1The BP-1 ($165 retail, as tested) is modeled on the impossible-tofind, vintage Interfax HP-1 Harmonic Percolator, a fuzz/overdrive effect that was designed to enhance even harmonics while suppressing the odd ones. Barge has added input/output buffering and a true bypass, but vintage fanatics can disable the output buffer with an internal slide-switch and/or the input buffer using the panel mounted Drive switch. The Drive circuit is a variable-gain input buffer added to the Interfax design; the pot varies the amount of gain provided by the input buffer from 0-20dB. The model I tested came with controls labeled Drive, Output, Balance, and Harmonics, along with Bypass and Drive footswitches. I have not heard a Harmonic Percolater, but if it sounds anything like the BP-1, I can see why it’s so coveted. Suffice it to say that the controls are extremely interactive and offer an incredible range of greatsounding vintage-style distortion tones—from slightly broken up “tweed” to broken amp blat. With the Drive off, and the Harmonics control set low, the Balance control adds natural, uncompressed distortion. Increasing the Harmonics level brings on some tube-like compression for more sustain. Kicking in the Drive with the Harmonics set low acts as a footswitchable boost. Adding Drive to a higher Harmonic setting starts edging into fuzz territory in the best way. Twisting and turning the knobs I couldn’t get an unusable sound; within its parameters of American distortion the BP-1 covered it all from down home blues to smooth fusion. And if that wasn’t enough, diming the Harmonics knob offers a radical bit-reduction sound, without the usual attendant sustain loss. In fact, with the Drive and Harmonics all the way up, the sustain was virtually limitless. Through my Orange head and a Reverend Hellhound combo, whether using a Danelectro Pro, a Fernandes S-style with Van Zandt pickups, or a 1965 Fender Strat with DiMarzio Virtual Vintage pickups, the BP-1 sounded natural, dynamic, warm, and full of character. It’s one of the best overdrive/ distortion/fuzz pedals I have ever heard and it earns an Editors’ Pick Award.

—Michael Ross


KUDOS Offers wide variety of terrific sounding overdrive and fuzz tones. Natural sounding and extremely dynamic in lower distortion settings.

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