Rocktron Silver Dragon

Dragons are fire-breathers, and so is the Silver Dragon ($170 retail/ $99 street), a dual-mode distortion pedal that uses a single 12AX7 tube in its Awaken mode, and then mixes that signal with solid-state distortion in the lovingly titled Slayer mode.

With my Strat, the big mean Dragon initially displayed an intense, fizzy, treble crunch. But a tweak of the powerful Shriek control made the treble response more musical, yet still toothy. The Shriek control is the key here, as it holds the power to tame your Strat or give your humbucker-loaded ax a hyper-bright, metal-type slice. The Fire (gain) control affects the distortion level of the 12AX7, and though you can get some very grinding textures with it turned only halfway up, the tones always remain clear and concise.

The Silver Dragon sounds like no other distortion pedal—and for good reason. When you engage the Slayer mode you get more distortion draped on top of its already forceful sounds. But a different type of distortion emerges as you start playing with the Slayer circuit’s Intensity and Breath controls—

sicker, fizzier, and actually kind of scary. Together, the two types of grind create one-of-a-kind mayhem. At times, I swore the Silver Dragon was a sort of futuristic fuzz, as its raunch and buzz were only eclipsed by its raging output and rotund low-end (which is controlled by the Roar knob). The Silver Dragon can work in a variety of settings. It has enough virile output to kick a low-wattage tube amp into various degrees of warm distortion, and if you’re playing in a band where the guitar has to be extreme and over-the-top heavy in an industrial kind of way, you could plug it into nearly anything and get tones that would make Marilyn Manson wet his panties. Either way, the Silver Dragon is quite possibly the wickedest distortion pedal around.