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4 of the Best Mini Klone Pedals

BoostBoost and OverdriveDecibelicsKlone and Transparent OverdriveMXRTone CityWampler+-
2018GPX4MiniKlones700-min.jpg

My first introduction to the Klon Centaur came via That Pedal Show, and even then I was not really that aware of all the fuss and hype over the Bill Finnegan originals - now selling for in excess of £2,000 on Reverb.com which is plainly ridiculous, especially considering that a fairly significant volume was made of those big-box gold and silver pedals.

 

Yet there is something to that Klon sound, and many people have made it their life’s mission to evolve and improve on that circuit - like Brian Wampler, and the lesser known but equally talented Guillem Vilademunt of Decibelics.

 

There are lots of one-off made-to-order mini Klones out there, but only really 4 proper production models as far as I can see. The earliest of these was the cheap and cheerful Tone City Bad Horse, which is actually the same circuit as the now defunct Movall Minotaur - a good budget offering, but not quite up to the quality of the other 3 here.

 

The MXR Sugar Drive with side buffer-switch was introduced at Winter NAMM this year, and the Tumnus is the pedal I came away with following my introduction to it on That Pedal Show - I currently have both small original, and larger Deluxe versions of the Tumnus.

 

The Decibel Golden Horse I came about by chance really via a Klon aficionado’s post on the Pedalboard of Doom Facebook Group. This guy had a collection of several Original Klons, some KTR versions and some Golden Horses too. I think the component and build quality of the Golden Horse really stands out here.


Decibelics Golden Horse - c£190 (Reverb.com)

It's apt that I already have an affinity for prancing horse logos - both Ferrari and R&S Records - and that iconic image here really marks out the class and quality of this pedal. Both inside and out the pedal is immaculately detailed and built, and is an amazing achievement of miniaturisation - especially when you see how involved the components board is. This pedal has that same magic harmonic resonance of the originals, it's not for me to say if it's exactly the same, but many better placed than I say it's as good as those. I just know I really it!


MXR Sugar Drive - £129

As stated in the intro, this was launched at the Winter NAMM 2018 show and was covered in my feature on cool new pedals introduced there. It's pretty close in feel to the original Klon and even has the buffer/bypass switch on the side. It does not have the low-end enhancements of the Tumnus, nor does it have quite the harmonic richness of the Golden Horse above, but it's still a decent Klone and significantly less dear is constrained for budget.


Tone City Bad Horse - £40

Easily the most affordable of the Mini Klones and really a very decent pedal considering its ticket price. As stated earlier, this is supposedly the exact same circuit as the well received Movall Minotaur pedal. It is also not quite up to the quality of the others on this page, and nowhere near the lofty heights of the Golden Horse quality. But if you're thinking about exploring the Klon sound, then this is certainly a worthy 'taster'.


Wampler Mini Tumnus - £139

Somewhat overshadowed now by its bigger and more versatile sibling, this pedal is nonetheless still getting a lot of love, and I have seen several pedalboards which feature both Mini and Deluxe versions - stacked together. I have professed several times that I really love the sound of the Tumnus and it has long been my 'Klone' of choice. Now that I have the Decibelics Golden Horse also - I feel I will rotate that with the Tumnus pretty regularly. They are not exactly the same thing, and I would use them for slightly different applications. Many of the old-school Klon fans don't like the Tumnus at all because of its beefier bottom end, but it's a godsend for home-players like me.


Final Thoughts

There are lots of tiny boutique builders making Klone pedals, and several of the majors have versions of the Klon in various different sizes - for instance the larger ProAnalog Devices Manticore, RYRA Klone and Bondi Effects Sick as Overdrive. I however have something of an intolerance for unnecessarily large pedals, and prefer something in a more compact enclosure.

 

I think the level of engineering in the Decibelics pedal is just awe-inspiringly amazing - relatively few pedals look that good both inside and out.

 

I think depending on your budgetary constraints all of the above are worthy contenders, while I lean of course towards the Golden Horse and Tumnus - but you can make up your own mind.

 

 

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Stefan Karlsson
Stefan Karlsson
Guitar Pedal X
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