The ToneCandy Skull Overdrive

Vintage Guitar Magazine, November, 2011

ToneCandy Skull Overdrive ToneCandy effects pedals are the creation of Mike Marino, a gigging musician who tests his designs in live situations.

Marino's latest offering is the Skull Overdrive, which is housed in a 4 3/4" x 21/2" x 11/2" aluminum chassis finished in gloss black with a skull silkscreen with a pair of L.E.D. "eyes" that serve as on/off indicators. Mechanical features include a true-bypass stomp switch, controls for Level, Tone, and Skull (gain) controls, two-position Mode switch, 1/4" in/out jacks, and a 9-volt power jack. The Mode switch pushed the pedal in an overdrive mode in one position, then into a higher-octane distortion in the second.

We recently gave it a run with the help of a PRS Custom 24 and an 18-watt/2x12 combo. In the OD mode, the pedal offered a transparent, crunchy overdrive that's fairly touch sensitive and very musical, with no irritating overtone. The Tone control is subtle, but functional, as you can gently roll off the high end without making it sound muddy or losing attack. The Skull control dials in anything from a light overdrive to a moderately thick distortion. In the second/distortion mode, the pedalís "sinister" persona comes to life, with a full-on distortion that is loaded with gain, mids and attitude. It's still crunchy, but with substantial available gain and a nice bump to the mids, for a thicker tone. It's an excellent solo distortion, ideal for single notes and pinch harmonics, as well as big power chords that ring forever. Even with the Level control dialed back to a relatively low setting, the Skull renders a full, fat sound, and doesn't wimp out or get thin and buzzy. While the second mode is less transparent, its coloration is very musical and thick, and still allows notes to jump.

The ToneCandy Skull Overdrive offers a solid, transparent overdrive along with a thick, over the-top, rock-ready distortion in a one well-crafted box with an appealing vibe.

Phil Feser - VG

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