Review: Tex Mex Germanium Preamp GP-1

The germanium booster, often called a treble booster, is an iconic device in the world of guitar effects, but the Germanium Preamp GP-1 ($250 direct) from Fort Worth-based maker Tex Mex Effects is far from just another Rangemaster clone. Like a lot of small-shop builders, Tex Mex’s Jason Munoz was an enthusiastic guitarist who started making his own pedals in the ’90s, and has spent many years refining his design for his flagship pedal. Behind the controls for Gain, Bass, Treble, and Volume, there’s a quality PCB hand-wired with a fully discrete analog circuit containing five carefully matched NOS germanium transistors, and other full-size, through-hole components, with no ICs or op-amps in the signal path. The EQ is active, adding treble and bass when set past noon, and subtracting them below, while two mini-toggles for Mid Shift and Gain Shift further re-voice the circuit. Power comes via internal 9V battery or standard external supply, and the pedal is true-bypass. The icing on the cake is a virtually 3D-looking custom metallic paint job.

Tested with a Stratocaster and a Les Paul into a tweed Deluxe and a custom JTM-45 style head, I found the GP-1 not only an extremely versatile pedal, but one that exuded the tactile, textured, slightly chewy sweetness for which good germanium boosters are famed. Given its impressive tone-sculpting capabilities and gain range (maximum 34dB), the pedal will do anything from fat boost, to low-gain overdrive, to near-fuzz sounds in addition to its treble-boost capabilities. With Gain up toward max, it barked out a honking, almost cocked-wah lead tone that begged me to sling it some classic-rock licks and singing pinched harmonics. A cool and groovy pedal for sure, and a very original new flavor of re-envisioned germanium tech.

KUDOS An original, versatile, and well-constructed germanium overdrive with an appealingly textured tone.

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