Review: Pigtronix Class A Boost, Gate Keeper, and Octava
These new micro pedals from Pigtronix are aimed at players who want to maximize space on their pedalboards, without compromising sonic performance or tone-shaping ability. All are 100% analog and they feature true-bypass switching, LED indicators, metal enclosures measuring approximately 1.5” x 3.5”, and front-mounted jacks for external 9v-18v power supplies (sold separately; battery power is not an option with these boxes).
CLASS A BOOST
Featuring a discrete, JFET transistor circuit that accepts instrument or line-level signals and delivers up to 20dB of clean boost (with the option of increased headroom when fed 18 volts), the Class A Boost ($89 street) is useful for driving distortion, overdrive, or fuzz pedals into greater saturation, or for giving delay and/or modulation devices extra oomph to cut through a band mix. Placed either before or after other effects, the pedal’s wide-ranging Level control affords everything from slight volume goosing to make up for any signal loss incurred by a chain of pedals, or, when turned way up, it was great for pushing vintage tube amps into more distortion than they could generate on their own. The Class A Boost doesn’t increase treble or noise—or in any other way color the sound of your rig—it just gives you more of it, which is what a good booster should do.
Kudos Clean, clear volume boost and nothing else.
Designed to eliminate noise from your system when you’re not playing, this micro version Gate Keeper ($99 street) has a Threshold control that sets how much input signal is needed to open the analog gating circuit. The higher the input level, the lower the Threshold can be set, and the idea is to adjust it so that it closes quickly when you stop playing and opens immediately when you touch the strings again. It was easy enough to find the gating sweet-spot with the Gate Keeper placed at the end of a hissy chain of distortion and modulation pedals (I also used a Tele to summon some hum), and when the gate seemed to be cutting the sound off too abruptly, turning the Release knob up a little (about 11 ’o clock worked for me) allowed the gate to stay open longer for a more natural feel—it’s definitely an essential function for tailoring the response to your preference. The Gate Keeper has an LED to indicate on/bypass, and another LED that turns off when the gate closes so that you always have a visual indication where the Threshold is set. All in all, this is an excellent choice if a gate is in your future, and the micro size makes it convenient to place on the most compact boards.
Kudos A very effective noise killer.
This frequency-doubling pedal features Drive, Filter, Blend, and Volume controls, as well as a Fuzz switch for a wide variety of “Octavia” effects. With Fuzz off and Drive turned way down, you can get very clean, chiming tones that can stand out l in a mix thanks to the pedal’s strong output. The all-analog device tracks guitar signals quite well, and, depending on how the Blend and Drive controls are set, you can get smooth octave-up effects that can be tailored for the right treble response with humbucker or single-coil guitars via the wide-ranging Filter control. Activating the Fuzz dramatically pumps up the distortion and sustain when Drive is turned up, and, at higher Blend settings, the Octava ($119 street) can easily veer into chaotic, ring-modulator textures that produce the unpredictable and oddball sonic artifacts that go along with it. The pedal is very sensitive to guitar volume changes, so some experimentation with all settings is advisable before diving into a gig with the Octava. Overall, when driven with a Les Paul, I found the most useable tones were with Drive set around one ’o clock, Blend at 11 ’o clock, Filter at 9 o’ clock, and Volume about a third of the way up. In this configuration the Octave added cool, ringing color to clean parts, with little or no further tweaking needed when the Fuzz was kicked on. A lot of power in a tiny pedal makes the Octava a worthy consideration for any pedal rig.
Kudos Delivers a bounty of octave-doubling effects.
Concerns Takes some experimenting to find its best sounds.