“That’s an amazing distortion pedal,” enthused the Police’s harmonic overlord. “You must try one.”
Summers put me in touch with Sean Michael, who makes these boutique beauties by hand in his White Lake, Michigan shop, and, within a week, I had an Eternity sitting on my desk at GP Central. It was a great day.
Sean Michael began fooling with analog circuitry in 1993, after finding rack processors “dull and uninspiring.” It’s no surprise then, that the Eternity screams old school, with a bulletproof casing, a status LED, a big studly switch that broadcasts “effect on” with a reassuring click you can feel as well as hear, and the time-honored “four-screw removal operation” imposed upon you whenever the 9-volt battery needs changing (although it includes a jack for an optional power adapter).
I tested the Eternity with a Fernandes Ravelle, a Gibson Les Paul, a Fender Strat, a Daisy Rock Retro-H De-Luxe (with mini humbuckers), and a PRS SE One (with a P-90-style pickup) through a 1x12 Fender Hot Rod Deluxe, a Mesa/Boogie Stiletto (with two Boogie 1x12 cabs), and a Marshall Vintage Modern half-stack.
The Eternity Overdrive ($289 direct) offers three ways to conjure grind: Drive, Level (clean boost), and Glass (treble boost). The controls are interactive, and while the pedal immediately delivers winning-the-lottery-and-marrying-a-supermodel-good overdrive from any setting, you can lose hours crafting different timbres from minute twists of one knob or another. The tone gets pretty dark when you back down the Glass knob, and you can simulate some Brian May/Deacy amp sounds by cranking the treble boost just shy of searing. Playing with the Level and Drive controls to bounce between hitting your amp’s front end to elicit some gronk and relying on the pedal’s overdrive circuitry produces colors that start at Paul Burlison-esque rockabilly raves, and end at distorto blasts that are somewhere between Rory Gallagher and Reeves Gabrels. Whether plugging in humbucker or single-coil guitars, maxing all three knobs doesn’t produce overly overdriven gurgle-burps—which is nice—but uber-gain settings won’t cough up oversaturated modern metal tones, either.
The most mind-blowing aspect of the Eternity is that its organic, tube-like overdrive can be simultaneously warm, sexy, aggressive, punchy, articulate, creamy, and nasty. The previous sentence may sound slightly insane, but the pedal’s sensitivity to picking dynamics lets you play its fundamentally awesome tone through as many moods as your fingers and/or plectrum can manage. The Eternity’s socketed IC even lets you switch circuits to taste, but don’t go there. Sean Michael attributes the pedal’s delicious tone to its current custom IC (he used to offer a few different options with the pedal), and, being somewhat superstitious, I would never risk trading Superman for Elmer Fudd—if you catch my drift.
I adore this pedal, but it’s a costly proposition. In fact, it’s significantly more expensive than other popular boutique bangers, such as the Fulltone OCD ($159), the feature-laden Blackstone Mosfet Overdrive ($225), and the Hermida Zen Drive ($179). Sonically, the Eternity is every bit as hip as any overdrive we’ve given an Editors’ Pick Award, but its high price puts it out of the match for its own award. Still, if you’ve got the budget, this Eternity is truly bliss.