ToadWorks Mr. Ed

Thankfully, Mr. Ed ($130 retail/ $93 street) is named after Eddie Van Halen, not the uppity TV horse, so it’s no surprise that it seeks to replicate EVH’s self-described “brown sound.” With Level, Tone, and Brown controls, the Mr. Ed is easy to use, but the unit does take some time to get used to.
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For example, cranking the Level control all the way provides searing presence and a defined, chunky midrange—but some sputtering was noticeable as the notes decayed. ToadWorks says this is normal, as Mr. Ed has no input or output buffering and, therefore, is susceptible to the impedance variances of different guitars and amps. This may explain why it sounded cool with my Marshall, while my Fender amps were ready to send Mr. Ed to the glue factory.

But you give a little, and you get a little, and the lack of buffering does make for a signal that’s a little more raw and unstable as it slams into the amp’s front end. That doesn’t necessarily create a dead-ringer of Eddie’s classic sound, but the concept is there and you can hear it in action. The treble response is cutting, the pick attack is crystal clear, and the overall sound is aggressive and hairy. The Tone control has enough range to accommodate single-coils or humbuckers, but I dug the pedal with humbuckers the most, as it pulled out some wonderful presence and clarity even as I rolled my guitar’s volume back nearly to zero. Mr. Ed is definitely going for something different, and it succeeds rather well.