plugged the Ethos TLE in the front a variety of amps—including a
Fender Deluxe Reverb, a Reverend Goblin 5-15, and a mid-’70s non-master
50-watt Marshall powering a 2x12 Fender cabinet—and my test guitars
included various Fender Telecasters and Strats, as well as a Gibson SG.
The Ethos’ Clean
channel is fairly easy to dial-in, albeit a tad overwhelming at first
with tonal options—a good thing, however, as there is nary a bad sound
to be found. The Tone Stack switches afford a cornucopia of textures
and shades depending on your guitar and pickup settings. For instance,
I dialed up ultra-glassy clean tones that simply popped out of my amp’s
speakers with a delicately detailed presence that made even my Gibson
SG a formidable clean machine, especially in dual pickup settings.
Conversely, with a Tele and Strat, my already glassy-sounding Fender
amp became even more crystalline, with a tight, blooming low-end
response, even with low settings of the Ethos’ ultra-powerful Bass
control. With the Gain cranked, I conjured biting, barely distorted
chunk that is particularly delicious with humbuckers, as the grind
comes in only when you lay into your strings. I harvested some
especially succulent clean tones by simply backing off my guitar’s
Volume control, or lightening my picking attack. Very nice!
The global HC control, located on the side of the unit, is key to
getting your preferred treble response, while the Treble, Middle, Bass,
and Tone Stack switches allow you to fine-tune to the nth degree. The
Brite switches on each channel are voiced remarkably, useable with my
keening Telecaster or the more mellow sounding Gibson SG, while the
Modern/Classic switch adjusts the EQ curve ever-so-slightly slightly.
The Jazz/Rock switch is the most vociferously voiced control, as it
takes the Ethos demeanor from smooth and polite (Jazz) to snarling and
in-your-face (Rock), as the gain and snarling mids are upped
Speaking of gain, the Ethos TLE’s Overdrive channel has a ton—enough
for insane sustain that borders on the silly, and notes that gently
fade into sultry, musical feedback—at bedroom volume levels! However,
the Ethos is not a metal machine as its overall character is designed
to deliver silky-smooth grind with humbuckers or single-coils. Think
Robben Ford, not Robin Fink. Make no mistake, the Ethos delivers
perfectly manicured distortion that allows complex intervals to speak
with a clear, ultra-musical voice. And when you engage the Boost
function, you’re greeted with exactly the some tone, just a shade
The Speaker Simulated output makes the Ethos TLE insanely versatile,
providing you with a home recording tool, as well as a direct-to-the-PA
conduit to give you total control over your front-of-house tones.
Plugging straight into my laptop for quick demos was not only easy, it
sounded great as well. With its excellent utility, as well as its
ability to impart boutique-amp tones make it a sure-fire winner. For
more information visit customtonesinc.com —Darrin Fox
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