Stompbox Fever

Built like little Abrams tanks, Radial’s line of Tonebone stompboxes runs the gamut from distortion units to A/B/Y switchers, and three new Tonebones boldly step out of the typical stompbox realm to offer players numerous ways to simplify and customize their rigs.

Radial Headbone VT

The Headbone VT ($300 retail/$229 street) pulls off the seemingly impossible feat of toggling between two tube heads that feed a single speaker cabinet. Come again? You simply plug your guitar into either the VT’s buffered or non-buffered input, connect the Amp-1 and Amp-2 outs to your amplifiers, and then run each amplifier’s speaker output back into the Headbone. A single Speaker Cabinet jack on the VT feeds your cabinet. Using my 50-watt Marshall for some carnivorous grind, a Fuchs Overdrive Supreme for a clean tone, and a Dr. Z 2x12 cabinet, the class-A VT provided me with a sweet-ass A/B setup. The Slingshot Remote Switching function let me place the Headbone at the backline (keeping my stage area clean), and switch heads with a standard footswitch. If the power goes out unexpectedly, the Headbone automatically defaults to its Amp-1 output to prevent damage to either amp.

The Headbone isn’t not a load box in the classic sense. Instead, it uses a load resistor to provide a minimum safe idle load for the unused amplifier. Also, you can’t run both amplifiers simultaneously, and if one amp has a 4O output, and the other amp is 8O, you may be compromising tube life or tone. But as Nigel Tufnel would say, “That’s nitpicking now, isn’t it?”

Radial CabBone

Confession time. The mere thought of being able to toggle between an open-back cab for an airy clean sound and a closed-back cab for some lead-tone thrust makes my trousers fit mighty tight. Well, the Cabbone ($300 retail/$229 street) turns my lusty dreams into reality. Dig it: I ran the speaker output of my Marshall into the Cabbone, and then routed its outputs to a Marshall 4x12 and an open-back Bad Cat 2x12. From there, I was able to toggle between both cabs for dramatically different tones. (The Cabbone also automatically defaults to its Speaker-1 output if the power goes out to prevent a “no load” condition on your amp.) The Cabbone’s Slingshot feature (which incorporates its own input and output jacks) not only lets you can park the Cabbone out of the way and use a standard footswitch to select cabs, it can also switch channels on your amp while switching between speakers, or toggle between settings on another Tonebone pedal. You can even configure it to control the tremolo or reverb on your old Fender amp, or hitch it to a MIDI controller to simultaneously change amp channels and multi-effector presets. Hot damn!

Radial Loopbone

The Loopbone ($300 retail/$229 street) offers two footswitchable effects loops, a variable +15dB Boost function, and a Tuner out. The dual loops allowed me to switch my most tone-sucking effects completely out of the signal path when I didn’t need them (imagine being able to finally gig with your dusty old Kent Bow-Wow Yoy-Yoy pedal!), while the Boost function easily pummeled my Fender Deluxe into overdrive. However, as with the Cab-Bone and Headbone, the Loopbone’s beauty lies in its Slingshot feature, which allows you to switch loops, turn on the Boost, and/or change your amp’s channels, all with one stomp. It can even tell a Headbone VT to switch amplifiers. Options, options, options! Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go rewire my pedalboard.