As much as treble boosters helped countless ’60s rockers kick some balls out of the big tube amps of the day, the mere notion sounds like a one-way ticket to Tinnitus Town. So to stem the brutal highs of vintage units such as the Dallas Rangemaster and Vox boosters, the Concorde+ carries a well-voiced Tone control (think “fatness”), plus Drive and Output knobs. The circuit contains a single germanium AC128 transistor preceded by a low-noise silicon drive stage for added gain. A little experimentation quickly proved that this is far more than just a booster. You can achieve a considerable but fairly clean linear boost with Drive reined in, but with the Tone set at three o’clock, Drive at 11 o’clock, and Output at around two o’clock, it outshone any of nearly a dozen Tube Screamer-style overdrives I had on hand with regards to transparency, dynamics, and bottom. I really enjoyed this pedal’s muscular sweetness and touch-friendly compression. It definitely has its sweet spots, though, and you will find some fizzy “tranny” sounds in certain positions, but with just a little tweaking it can prove an extremely musical booster/ overdrive.
The compact Voodoo-Vibe Jr pedal uses the same circuitry that’s at the tone-shaping core of RM’s much bigger Voodoo-Vibe unit, including four carefully matched photoresistors, but with much simplified control functions. Mayer also says these pedals represent a continued evolution from his modifications to the last of Hendrix’s own Univox Uni-Vibes. The Jr was designed such that the player can set its Sweep, Speed, Intensity, and Mix (Chorus-Vibe) controls to 12 o’clock and get the instant gratification of usable sounds. It’s very true, and even after days of fiddling and playing, my favorite settings mostly remained within a short twist of these positions—the one exception being a Mix leaning more toward Chorus than Vibe. The Jr nails a classic Vibe’s heart and soul without coming off as a clone or copy. It is watery, gurgly, and lush, yet it retains an impressive degree of the sound and dynamics of your guitar. It also introduces negligible noise into the brew. Once sampled, it’s hard to live without at least a little of that warm bubble in your tone.
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