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Chase Bliss Audio Collaborates with Benson Amps to Deliver the Ultimate Drive Pedal - the Automatone PreAmp MKII

AutomatoneBenson AmpsBoostBoost and OverdriveChase Bliss AudioDistortionDriveFuzzGated and Velcro FuzzMulti-DriveOverdrive+-

It’s a little early to call it - in fact a full day ahead of the opening of this year’s Winter NAMM, but it looks like Joel Korte has stolen the show here! In recent weeks I have been getting to grips with the superb BYOC Crown Jewel - and I stated several times in that review - how much impact presets could have for such a pedal.


And while the Automatone PreAmp MKII does not have quite as many tone-sculpting and clipping options as the Crown Jewel, it shares a great many similarities. Joel Korte and Christopher Benson have truly excelled themselves here and created a really intuitive and easy to understand interface.


I will note that I’ve only seen the teaser video of this, but my experience of pedals in general and the very detailed yet short trailer video below really tells me everything I need to know.


Firstly we have 6 sliders - I am assuming with active tone controls and parametric mids. Then eschewing the usual 3-way option toggles that are typical for Chase Bliss pedals we instead have a row of 3-way option push-buttons covering Preset Scroll/Range, Mids EQ Position, Q Bandwidth, Clipping Diode Selection and Fuzz Circuit Selection - for users of the Crown Jewel - how most of those are likely to work is fairly obvious.


Finally we have dual footswitches - the left hand one of which allows you to select and move between Presets - while the right-hand one is the usual ByPass switch - in between those two is a small LED screen displaying the number of Preset selected 0-9.


Joel Korte usually likes to add a few more features under the bonnet as it were, while Chris Benson is more of a minimalist at heart, so I would assume here that the key functionality is clearly visible and overt, while there may be some secondary functions via possible internal dip-switches and trim-pots - but I would say probably more likely simplicity is key to this collaboration.


What’s particularly marvellous about this device is that each of the sliders is powered - and when you switch between Presets - the Sliders move automatically to their new values - quite the spectacle, but perhaps delivers some unwanted degree of fragility in longer-term ownership.


Considering the automation here and the ingenuity at work, I would estimate a retail price probably somewhere in the region of the $400-$600 mark. I most definitely want one of these - I’ve been after something similar for a while - it just did not exist yet! The only impediment here is price and availability - we await further specs and demos witch some significant degree of excitement! It will be interesting to see where this pedal goes up for sale, as it is branded ’Automatone’ on the front, and Chase Bliss Audio and Benson Amps on rear. Existing Chase Bliss site / dealers or Benson - or something else?

Key Features / Specs - as can be determined

'Multi-voice PreAmp Drive Pedal with 30 Presets (10 per bank) and Robotic / Automatic Moving Tone-Control Sliders'

  • 6 Automatic Control Sliders : Volume, Treble, Mids, Mids Frequency, Bass, Gain
  • Scroll : 3-way Push Button - Select between 0-9, 0-3 or 0-1 Preset Ranges per Bank
  • Mids : Mids EQ Placement - Off, Pre, Post
  • Q : Q Bandwidth Selection - Wide, Normal, Narrow
  • Diode : Clipping Diode Selection - Off, Silicon, Germanium
  • Fuzz : Fuzz Circuit Selection - Off, Open, Gated
  • Preset Footswitch : Step between Presets, Hold for change Bank - depending on Scroll setting - you either have 3 banks of 2, 4 or 10 Presets
  • ByPass Footswitch : Pedal On/Off - Hold to Save Preset
  • Mono 1/4" Sockets : In and Out
  • Midi : Midi In and Thru
  • Exp : TRS Expression Jack Socket
  • Power Supply : 9VDC Centre-Negative 500mA
  • USB Port : Mini USB port for updates
  • Dimensions/Weight : TBC
  • Pricing : TBC (c $750)
  • Release Date : TBC (c Late Summer / Early Autumn 2019)

60 Cycle Hum Automatone Overview with Joel Korte!

OK - so more details are revealed - we pretty much know everything about how it works - just need a price and time of release now!

Most Detailed Overview yet Courtesy of Premier Guitar at NAMM

More tones and more examples! Also more details on the forthcoming CBA Blooper Looper!

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Stefan Karlsson
Stefan Karlsson
Guitar Pedal X
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