Stompbox Fever(7)

July 1, 2004

Rocktron Black Cat Moan

Those questing for bigger, badder, and weirder wah tones may find their grail in Rocktron’s Black Cat Moan ($129 retail/$89 street). But dilettantes beware—while the Moan offers traditional “normal” and “classic” wah tones (as well as a Bass mode for bassists and downtuning 6- and 7-stringers), the truly fab and eccentric sounds are reserved for those who explore the pedal’s sweepable harmonic boost, or “moan” effect. When you get it right, the Moan/Wah combo delivers everything from a devastating midrange wallop (` la Michael Schenker and Randy Rhoads) to bratty spittle with several aggro stops in-between. I had a blast discovering all the cool tones just waiting to explode from this pedal. Get it wrong, however, and the pedal produces undulating whistles and squeals. The Moan effect can also be employed as a dedicated distortion/boost, and both modes (combo/wah and Moan alone) definitely favor heavy saturation—the moanin’ often exhibits tattered mids when run through an amp with lots of clean headroom.

A marvelous bonus is that the Moan is totally locked and loaded for the rigors of gigging. The casing is indestructible (I dropped it ten feet onto a concrete floor and it didn’t even cough), a blue LED broadcasts when the wah is on, you can adjust pedal tension to thrill your foot, it can be powered with a 9-volt battery or an optional power adaptor, and it would take a drunken rhinoceros to get the pedal to tip or slip. You can’t be shy with this pedal, but adventurous souls will be rewarded with all manner of strange and feral noises. This ain’t your typical wah, so be fearless and conquer!

—Michael Molenda

Lovetone Cheese Source

Available only from British online retailer Dinosaural (, the Lovetone Cheese Source (approximately $535 direct at current exchange rates) presents a vast buffet of delicious fuzz and overdrive tones. Essentially two pedals in one, the Cheese Source combines the circuitry from Lovetone’s highly regarded Big Cheese fuzz and Brown Source overdrive.

The left half of the pedal controls the fuzz section, and fully exploiting the cheese theme, Lovetone labeled the drive knob Curds and the output-level knob Whey. The Tone knob flaunts the onomatopoeic designations Hog and Bee, and there’s also a 4-position rotary switch that revoices the treble and midrange (positions 1 and 2), bypasses the tone control (Off), and delivers ultra-extreme textures(Cheese). The right half of the pedal contains the controls for the overdrive section, and it uses more traditionally labeled knobs. This section also sports a 4-position rotary switch that revoices the circuit, with Off again disconnecting the tone control.

The Cheese section easily covers the classic Fuzz Face and Vox Tone Bender textures, and its formidable tone-shaping facilities offer an almost limitless palette of variations—everything from walls of wallowing corpulence to sputtering ant-bugle squeaks. Overdrive connoisseurs will appreciate the Source section’s smooth textures and tube-like warmth. Separately, the Big Cheese and the Brown Source are impressive, but combined they’re an irresistible feast.

—Terry Buddingh


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