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Best of ThorpyFX Pedals - Actually all 10 are Great!

Big Muff Style FuzzBoostBoost and OverdriveBufferChorus and VibratoCompressorDistortionDriveEffects Pedal MakersEQFuzzFuzz Face Style FuzzFuzz-Drive and FuzzstortionKlone and Transparent OverdriveMarshall Style DistortionModulationOverdriveRat Style FuzzThorpyFXUtility+-
2019GPXThorpyOverview700V2.jpg

My first exposure to Thorpy - way back when, was the then monikered Muffroom Cloud Fuzz - a fantastic sounding and really versatile take on the original Triangle version EXH Big Muff Pi. At the time though I was slightly put off by the somewhat over-sized enclosure - which was both significantly longer and wider than my preferred compact enclosure size - so I campaigned hard to have Thorpy bring the box down in size somewhat. This did not look like it was going to happen - and I eventually acquired one at the original size, now named The Fallout Cloud. Only to find out just over six months later that Thorpy had indeed heeded requests for a more compact enclosure - and was actually re-launching all his pedals in re-engineered and significantly reduced V2 enclosures - I witnessed the reveal at last year’s UK Guitar Show at Olympia. So I then went through the interesting process of negotiating an exchange swap of the old with the new V2 Fallout Cloud from that pedal’s vendor Andertons. Nowadays to keep things simple - I mostly just negotiate direct with Adrian himself.

PT 2

I had long before done a piece on the Thorpy Award Winning Trifecta, as well as a Best of British feature which focused heavily on ThorpyFX - which I firmly believe is The flag-bearer for British pedals. There are many other great British pedal brands - several of international repute, but you would most likely say that Thorpy is still somewhat out in front, all things considered.

PT 2B

So for a while I had harboured the desire to acquire the Trifecta - Fallout Cloud (Triangle Muff), Gunshot (Plexi+) and Warthog (Rat+). And as soon as the V2 versions were officially out on release I made quick work of snapping them up - bar the slight snafu with the Fallout exchange which though worked out well in the end. At that stage I decided that this would probably suffice for the Thorpy contingent for now. But the Peacekeeper somehow kept tugging at my conscience - and even though not as celebrated as the 3 aforementioned award-winners - I started to think that this should surely be a Thorpy Quadfecta, and I really should have the Peacekeeper too!

PT 3

While I was mulling over the decision to acquire the Peacekeeper, Thorpy surprised most of us by announcing the Pete Honoré signature Boost + Drive 'The Dane' pedal. I had known that for many years Pete's favourite overdrive was the Greer Amps Lightspeed, and as he played mostly single coil guitars - especially his purple Custom Shop Tele, then it was likely that The Dane would evolve along similar lines. In fact we found out that The Dane was a 'twofer' combination consisting of an elegant boost with low-end control, and a neutral overdrive actually evolved and transmogrified from the Peacekeeper circuit.

 

While The Dane actually sounds great on both single coil and humbucker guitars, I have always thought of it as optimised for single coils - and thus, because of my preference for humbuckers and generally more compact dimension pedals - sort of decided that The Dane wasn't particularly for me. I had in any case pretty much already decided that I was getting the Peacekeeper - and with that added to the Gunshot and Warthog I didn't see what The Dane would add to my particular Thorpy mix, moreover I already had 3 different boosts in a row at the front of my chain - the always-on Jackson Audio Prism, the occasional blooming boost of the Jackson Audio Bloom, and the frequently-used texturising harmonic boost of the Germanium Spaceman Mercury IV.

PT 4

In any case Thorpy next announced the Heavy Water Dual Channel Boost - which contained The Dane boost as its right-hand-channel, and a new Germanium Diode Boost on the left-side-channel. I decided that I could swap in the Heavy Water for the Spaceman Mercury IV - save some space and get more versatility, and then follow with the Peacekeeper for a sort of 'Turbo Dane' experience - per the above visual - you can read that article too [here]. For the Heavy Water launch then - I had 5 Thorpy pedals in my pedal-chain as below - slots #8, #9, #20, #21 and #23.

PT 5

I am quite the fuzz fan too though - so there's no question that this pedal quest is still ongoing and the next Thorpy I know I will acquire is the Silicon Veteran. Many moons ago there used to be a Germanium version of this Fuzz Face + Boost style pedal - in the original V1 size enclosure. And while my preference is typically for compact enclosure pedals - I can make an exception for those pedals with 6 dials and dual footswitches. This is obviously another great sounding pedal - and about as versatile as you can get for the Fuzz Face genre. So my tally would likely take a slight hiatus at 6 therefore.

 

I've already mentioned that I really don't need The Dane - as I have the 'Turbo Dane' in the Heavy Water + Peacekeeper combination - that leaves The Deep Oggin Chorus/Vibrato, The Fat General Parallel Compressor, and the Team Medic Buffer, EQ, Boost and Boost+.

 

For each of these I have other preferred alternatives even though I admire and rate each of those too. My current Chorus/Vibrato of choice is the Chase Bliss Audio Warped Vinyl - and I really like its combination of extended range features, alongside its second tap-tempo footswitch - all in the same compact enclosure. The Deep Oggin sounds about the best Chorus you could ever want - if you solely acquired pedals on how they sound - this would surely be one of your first choices - but I'm rather hung up on form factor, and really like having the tap-tempo - which seems to be kind of essential for my modulation pedals of choice - as you can see in the above pedal-chain schematic (slots #30 - #34).

 

Although not exactly the same thing - my Jackson Audio Prism and Jackson Audio Bloom are my preferred pairing over the Thorpy Team Medic + Fat General. The Prism is a 3-Type Boost (Clean/Amp-like/Treble-Booster), Buffer, EQ, Overdrive and PreAmp, while the Bloom is a Compressor, EQ and Blooming Boost. The two pairs of pedals are a pretty close swap-outs - while the Jackson Audio pair has a few more tricks up its sleeve - but I really like the Thorpy alternatives too - and I could have gone either way - I just happened to take the Jackson Audio route on this occasion.

PT 5B

ThorpyFX isn't just all about Adrian - his key partner is wife Georgia - and both have significant impact and influence on the pedal production process which is still carried out in-house. Thorpy's military roots in munitions have obviously influenced the military-grade enclosures and naming convention - and it's something I really like and admire about these pedals. In fact the only negatives are that the polished steel is highly reflective - meaning it's a magnet for fingerprints - and you can't always read the knob legends. That said, none of these pedals are particularly complex - so it's not really an issue to memorise which knob does what - without being able to read the labels. These pedals are precision-honed weapons of tone, and built like tanks - beautifully elegant tanks that is. I'm not always a fan of chicken-head knobs but really like them in this context.

PT 6

I usually limit these overviews to just 9 pedals from the range, but I really did not want to exclude a single one here - as I think each one of these is fantastic and will be in the mix for the favourite pedals of that type. As an example for me - I have 4 favourite Triangle Muff style pedals - the Fallout Cloud of course, the Skreddy Mayonaise MKII, Basic Audio 5-Knob Tri/Ram and VFE Fiery Red Horse - all are fantastic pedals and all get rotated in frequently - and at certain stages I may prefer one over the others - but each pedal really takes its turn as favourite. In fact I have several alternatives for each of my Thorpy pedals - the only one which doesn't have any fully direct competition currently is the Heavy Water - so that is likely to remain in my pedal-chain fairly permanently, while others will be more 'in rotation' with extended tours of duty along the way.

 

Pedals are listed alphabetically by name and are the entirety of the current ThorpyFX V2 range - 2 previous and now discontinued pedals- along with all the V1 types of course are the Germanium Veteran, and the Chain Home Tremolo (Vox Repeat Percussion):


The Dane Overdrive and Booster Peter 'Danish Pete' Honoré Signature Pedal - £250

Currently Thorpy's best-seller since its launch - albeit not quite up to the Muffroom / Fallout Cloud numbers yet, this extended enclosure size pedal sort of justifies its footprint with 5 control knobs and dual footswitches. As Pete's signature pedal its central mission is obviously to beef up the tones of his favourite Tele and Strat guitars - so this pedal is a godsend for single-coil guitar aficionados. It's a tale of two halves with an independent right-hand pre-booster accompanied by Boost (Level) and Lows (Low-end Frequencies) control knobs, while the left hand side features the conventional Volume | Tone | Drive of a typical overdrive. As mentioned previously, the boost was devised entirely originally for this pedal, while the overdrive circuit started with a Peacekeeper - which was then honed and changed and tweaked to Pete's preferences. The Boost makes for an excellent low-gain overdrive of its own, and pairs up superbly with the drive-side too - just a fantastic all-round versatile drive pedal - which while amazing for Single Coils - is actually pretty excellent for humbuckers too - there's plenty of range on tap and you just dial things in somewhat differently. For me - I was always intended to get the Peacekeeper - and I prefer the extended versatility of what I get using my Peacekeeper in combination with the new Heavy Water Dual Boost - which of course features The Dane boost on its right channel. So I feel I'm justified in calling the Heavy Water + Peacekeeper the 'Turbo Dane'!.


The Deep Oggin Chorus/Vibrato - £250

Launched just in advance of this year's Winter NAMM, this was one of the standout pedals at that show - with its beautifully dynamic watery warbly chorus - sounding really exactly as you would want a deep and rich, elegant chorus to sound. Developed in collaboration with tone-sculptor Dan Coggins of Lovetone fame this is just the finest sounding chorus you might ever want - with 5 intuitive controls - Depth | Rate | Blend | Volume | Treble - to really get the most out of this format. Talking about format though - this is slightly larger than I would have wanted it, and lacks a tap-tempo footswitch which is a must have for my modulations - as mentioned above. If this came in the standard compact Thorpy enclosure with dual footswitches and tap-tempo I would have had a very tricky time putting this up against my current favourite - Chase Bliss Audio's Warped Vinyl. They are essentially slightly different pedals with significant overlap - but considering the size and scope of my pedal-chain I really can't afford to sacrifice so much real-estate to the larger pedal - it would mean one of my other essential pedals would have to go. So for strictly practicality reasons the Deep Oggin doesn't quite fly for my situation - while I really love how this pedal sounds - and would just want it closer to my preferred format really. This is definitely one of the very best sounding choruses out there though.


The Fallout Cloud Fuzz (Triangle Muff style) - £185

Simply one of the finest, most versatile fuzzes you'll lay your hands on - and at a very reasonable price point. Based on the original EHX Triangle variety Big Muff Pi - this goes one further with separate Treble and Bass controls. I actually have 4 favourite exceptional Triangle style Muffs - the Fallout Cloud, Skreddy Mayonaise MKII, Basic Audio Tri/Ram and VFE Fiery Red Horse - each gets an extended tour of duty in my rotation, and at different times I may prefer one variety over another - but exactly which one that is changes all the time. The Fallout Cloud provides the best balance of tone and versatility - I've always described it as the Fuzz for those who think they don't like fuzzes - as it sounds exceptional - right around the Sustain/Gain dial and right through the frequency range. This is the best selling ThorpyFX pedal of all-time and understandably so - just a beautifully tuned circuit.


The Fat General Parallel Compressor - £220

This is actually a genius easy to use compressor with 2 modes - Blend | Juicy and 3 further Conrols - Treble | Sustain | Balance. This is a classic tone-enhancer which equalizes and enhances your playing dynamics - giving you more attack and sustain - great for country picking, funk licks and generally improved articulation and note separation. It's another Dan Coggins collaboration and produces exceptional enhanced tones in one of the most elegant ways possible. It's at the opposite end of complexity to the 6 or more dials of other industry benchmark compressors like Origin Effect's Cali76 Deluxe - or even my Jackson Audio Bloom Compressor - with has a clever footswitch-based mode selector with 6 different Compression modes which do all the heavy lifting for you really. There are pros and cons of each solution here - I've also considered the really cool DryBell Unit67 - but probably where my thinking is right now would come down to a head-to-head between this Fat General and the Jackson Audio Bloom. I decided to go the way of the Bloom - but the Fat General still remains in my frame of reference - and I might still acquire it for rotational purposes at some stage. For now I just use the Bloom's many functions too much - using its 3-Band EQ and Boost elements almost as much as the Compressor itself! For those looking for a relatively simple but great sounding and non-interfering compressor - then this should definitely be one of your main contenders.


The Gunshot Overdrive (Plexi+ style) - £185

This pedal's controls topology is the same as the Warthog - with dials for Gain | Volume | Tone | Calibre - where the last mentioned is really the gain character - where you can ramp up the crunch or smooth things out at different levels of gain. Although not described so on the Thorpy website - this pedal sits very much in classic Marshall Plexi territory - with the interaction between the Gain and Calibre dials giving you a little more. This is one of the finest 'Crunch' pedals out there which deliver beautiful rich and precise articulation. I have over a dozen 'Plexi' varieties and this pedal competes easily with the best of those.


The Heavy Water Dual High Headroom Boost - £185

When Thorpy says High Headroom - he's not kidding - this is seriously loud - with unity at 0! When he announced this, I knew pretty much right away that I wanted this. I had acquired the Spaceman Effects Mercury IV a while ago - and despite its slightly over-sized enclosure, I loved the extra character and harmonics it brought to my signal chain. The Mercury IV was for the longest time my 'Texturising Boost' of choice - mostly-on to give increased depth and richness to my tone. I could immediately see that this 2-in-1 boost (3-in 1 actually!) would give me that Germanium texture impact on the left switch, while the right footswitch activated the smoother boost from The Dane pedal. Actually this is a 3-in 1 really as I use the Smooth/Dane and Germanium boost alternatively all the time, and combine both for a beautifully textured low-to-medium gain overdrive. Both my Lows dials are set to 8:30/9:00 o'clock, while both boost levels are at 7:30 o'clock.


The Peacekeeper Low Gain Overdrive (Transparent / Neutral / Natural Overdrive) - £195

This was essentially my 4th Thorpy pedal and I included this in my recent Klon/Klone Overview as that is the territory this largely overlaps with. You get an interesting control topology here with the usual Gain and Volume dials, then post active Treble and Bass controls, but pre-gain Mids and Presence control - somewhat confusingly labelled Presence - as it does a lot more. Klon pedals are essentially hard-clipping overdrives, but the interaction of the Presence-labelled control with the 2-Band EQ - give you lovely smoother soft-clipping tones too. I used to have the Wampler Pantheon in the #9 equivalent slot, and so loved that I thought I would return to it sooner, but am loving my 'Turbo Dane' experience pretty much equally - so the Heavy Water + Peacekeeper combination is definitely staying for now!


The Team Medic Buffer, EQ, Boost & Boost+ - £220

I mentioned in the intro how much I liked this, and how close the Team Medic + Fat General combination came to win out over my now preferred solution of Jackson Audio Prism + Bloom. The Team Medic is a superb near start of signal chain Buffer / 3-Band EQ / Boost - to set your tone off on the best path. My Prism provides 3 flavours of Boost (Clean/Amp-Like/Treble-Booster) along with 2-Band EQ and Buffer. There's really not much to it - each of these has its advantages - I just very slightly prefer the features the Prism has over the Team Medic versus the other way around - although I have often critiqued the Prism for not having 3-Band EQ. My only niggle for the Team Medic is lack of separate LED / signal for the second footswitch - which advice Thorpy did take on board for the improved execution found on the Heavy Water. I'm guessing that there will be a Team Medic V3 eventually with similar topology to the Heavy Water.


The Silicon Veteran Vintage Fuzz and Boost (Fuzz Face) - £225

Most definitely my next Thorpy acquisition - negotiations will start at this weekend's UK Guitar Show at Islington - where Thorpy will be in attendance as usual. Will be interesting to see what further surprises he has up his sleeve - he rarely turns up lacking in new release updates. In any case this formidable Fuzz Face style circuit features 6 controls - Range | Boost | Smooth | Fuzz | Volume | Bias - with a separate footswitch to engage the Boost. In effect the two sides of the pedal are Range | Boost - with the Range dial selecting Treble/Mid/Bass Focus frequencies, and the Fuzz side being controlled by Smooth (Input Impedance), Fuzz, Volume and Bias. I pretty much like all my fuzzes to have Bias controls - it so impacts on the character of the output. Will be interesting to see which Transistors power this one - I've developed something of a fascinations for those tiny tone-making components partly through my association with a number of artisan fuzz-builders who can be somewhat Transistor-obsessed in their pursuit of better tones. My natural curiosity often leads me where few dare follow!


The Warthog Distortion (Rat+ style)

Last on the list alphabetically is the venerable Warthog - concealing hidden reserves of power and ferocity. Thorpy's main Distortion pedal actually sits quite nicely in Rat territory, albeit this is not an LM308 derivative - but it has its key character in that ballpark. It has the same control topology as the Gunshot - Gain | Tone | Volume | Calibre - with the final Gain Character dial being the magic ingredient in this pedal too - giving you more textured distortion artefact or otherwise smoothing out the frequency curve. Like all of Thorpy's drive pedals - this comes with significant range - and usable tones at both ends of the dials. It's one of 15 Rat style pedals I have and it still holds its own amongst the upper echelons of those - while my all-time favourite Rat style pedal is probably the Dr Scientist Frazz Dazzler - which many associate more closely with a high gain Big Muff! But when you have these versatile pedals you can dial in all kinds of different results - there are several sweetspots to be found on this pedal and for many this is there favourite Thorpy pedal!


Final Thoughts

I often get asked if I could only buy a single pedal from each brand which would it be - but with Thorpy I struggle a little as there are so many fantastic sounding ones here. I would likely suggest the all-conquering Fallout Cloud if you sort of like fuzz, or The Dane if you are only going to buy a single pedal - especially if you play Strats or Teles. If you buy two - I would probably say go 'Turbo Dane' with the Heavy Water + Peacekeeper. And if 3 go get the original award-winning Trifecta of Fallout Cloud, Gunshot and Warthog.

 

I am totally delighted with the 5 Thorpy's I have to date and feel I will likely add a few more in time - starting with The Veteran. As to what you get for yourselves depends largely on your own preferences - but there should really be something for everyone in this current range now. I obviously have a preference for compact enclosure pedals - my favourites often have dual footswitches on them - so there is much to like about Thorpy - those enclosures and attention to detail are just fantastic - these pedals ooze quality that appeals to all the senses.

 

I don't really know what more to say here - if you haven't acquired one of these already then it's about time you did. Each of these is at the top of its respective target group - it may not always be your favourite overall across all criteria - but will always be in the running for the top honours. These things are often mood based - and yes I'm a touch spoilt with 382 pedals in my current Tone Library / Collection - but to be competing at the top end of those says all you really need to know.

 

Thorpy pedals are very reasonable priced for what are unique jewel boxes of tones - very distinctive and exceptionally well made. These are all easy pedals to get along with and each has a finely-tuned and versatile range of tones. These are the very definition of artisan hand-crafted pedals and all players should aspire to own at least one of these - they are currently in fairly broad distribution around the world - as well as being available direct from the ThorpyFX Store.

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Stefan Karlsson
Stefan Karlsson
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