The folks at Mesa Engineering can certainly keep a secret. We didn’t even know these pedals existed until they showed up in the office, and, heck, we’re friends with the gang in Petaluma, California. Sheesh. But all was forgiven as soon as we plugged in these excellent tone machines. mesaboogie.com
This powerful overdrive/distortion box features Gain, Level, Bass, and Treble controls to give you a ton of control over a wide array of tube-sounding textures. The Flux-Drive can be used to slam a hot signal into an amp for classic overdrive, and at low to moderate Gain settings its harmonically engorged distortion is great for grinding “clean” rhythms and heavy rock chunk. The pedal’s huge gain range accommodates bluesy wails to searing shred, and its superb dynamic response lets you go from clean to scream with a twist of your guitar’s volume control.
Armed with Level, Gain, and Tone controls the Grid Slammer delivers a sound that’s in the wheelhouse of a familiar green OD machine from the late’70s, but with more gain, output, and bottom. A built-in midrange bump adds a percussive presence to the tube-sounding distortion, and the Tone control sweeps from thick to slicing to suit single-coils or humbuckers. With abundant gain range to give blues players, fusionistas, and hard rockers all something to cheer about, and gobs of output at any Gain setting, the Grid Slammer could be the all-in-one three-knob distortion pedal you’ve always wanted.
Extreme gain is the specialty of this pedal, making it the best choice of the four Mesas for rock and metal. But the Throttle Box also features a mini-toggle for switching between the low- and high-gain modes (the LED changes from yellow to red), which reins in its fury for blues, gritty rhythm work, or anything not needing shred levels of sustain. A Mid-Cut control attenuates the midrange for modern, just shy of “scooped” grind, while a Tone knob rides shotgun over it all and a “hidden” Boost switch on the circuit board allows even further tweaking.
Though it provides only a small amount of grind when the Gain knob is fully cranked, this potent preamp with Bass and Treble controls is ideal for beefing up single-coils and giving humbuckers more punch and slice. The Tone-Burst has a ton of output, so it can be used to push the front end of your tube amp into clipping, but it’s the pedal’s ability to enhance the meatiness and vibe of a guitar signal that makes you want to keep its LED glowing full time.