Readers of this blog will know that I’ve long wanted the Blackhawk Amplifiers Balrog V3 Distortion pedal - in fact I’ve kind of been chasing it for a couple of years. I loved it right from first encounter - but these proved rather elusive to me for a while until I managed to secure one via the Blackhawk store on Reverb.com.
I’ve featured this as both a Metal and Doom/Sludge Pedal, and its triple cascaded TL072 Opamps produce the most appealing brutal and thick saturation. Im many ways this is kinda sorta like a super high gain Muff as its texture and saturation certainly lies in that direction.
It of course has the most amazing sustain too, and despite its serial cascaded gain stages it really has a pretty decent noise floor. I kind of really like it with Maximum Bass, Depth and Gain - with both Treble and Mids knocked back a bit. There is plenty of volume on tap here which I always find so satisfying.
In fact this is one of the most satisfying distortion pedals out there - deep and rich, and heavy in texture. It certainly lives up to all the demos that led me down his road, and on my rig is slightly more articulate than most of the demos.
I’ve notated the various control knobs on the visual, so no need to repeat that here - and from the gunshot you can clearly see the 3 x TL072 Opamps and 2 sets of Red LEDs which are responsible for bringing on that saturation and heft. I would like to say this is quite a magnificent distortion, while I appreciate that it won’t necessarily be for everyone!.
The only quandary now is which Blackhawk pedal to get next - I certainly want more of the same, while Brooks has such a cornucopia of riches I’m finding it hard to pick out my next target. Do let me know if you have suggestions!. Potential targets currently include the Åsgard V3, Basilisk, Fellbeast, Mihrandir, Urukhai, Valhalla V3, and Valhalla V3 Deluxe.
Aesthetically these pedals are available typically in Black or Blackened enclosures (Artistically Distressed rather than Relic’d). Their tribal runic symbols are engraved into the enclosure with some sort of deftly wielded Dremel style tool - I’m not much for Relic’d stuff, so I prefer to consider this artistically and tastefully distressed - more as a textural design choice than any sort of antiquing or wear or weathering simulation!
As mentioned, I acquired this pedal from the Blackhawk Amplifiers Reverb.com Store - for $200 plus delivery. Note that all these pedals are made to order - and usually take 2-3 weeks to be fulfilled. And of course you can order them from the Blackhawk Amplifiers site too. I prefer ordering from Reverb.com as the delivery prices are more overt there.