THE ARIA ($189 RETAIL/$149 STREET) is a hand-painted distortion pedal that, like all Pigtronix products, takes a somewhat different tack. For starters, it boasts an active 3-band EQ that lets you cut frequencies as well as boost them (+/-12dB), resulting in considerably more tone-crafting power than you get with the typical “Tone” control, or even multiple passive tone controls. When boosted, Low packs a tight, punchy buzz with a hint of synth-like edginess; Mid emphasizes the lower end of the toothiness range, adding a little cocked-wah articulation;and High ladles on sizzle and a touch of rasp, but without harshness.
Next, the Aria’s diode-clipping circuitry has a somewhat different character than that of many distortion boxes—on some settings reminiscent of the inter-modulation distortion generated by the Crowther Audio Prunes & Custard (one of my favorite pedals). That said, the Aria easily nails fat classic rock and blues tones, including a great tubeamp-like crunch on lower gain settings, convincing early Sabbath metal sounds, and womanly Claptones using a neck humbucker with the guitar’s tone control rolled back. This little piggy is also very responsive to playing dynamics, frighteningly quiet even when cranked, and fitted with true-bypass switching. Sooey!
KUDOS Produces classic and modern sounds. Active tone controls. Quiet operation.
CONTACT Pigtronix, (631) 331-7447; pigtronix.com