I’ve been peripherally aware of Alessandro Barretta’s pedals for a while now, known as ’Ale’ to his friends! He builds these fantastic proper boutique pedals - one at a time - at his studio in Pisa, Italy. This is a passion project first and foremost, and as it’s all made-to-order, he typically does not ship more than a couple or so pedals each month.
He currently has 2 pedals in production - both are high gain really - and the ’Drive and Boost’ variety is exactly that - with its separate footswitches for each of those functions. While this article will be focusing on the Metal Monster that is the Ultrasonic Dual-Channel High Gain Distortion.
When you get it into your hands, the actually very compact horizontal BB-size enclosure looks nowhere near as imposing as the sound that emanates from within. You get two wholly equivalent Channels - each with Master Volume and Gain controls, and then a 3-Band Shared EQ for both.
What emerges is a very richly textured deep and precise heavy tone - pretty much of that slightly more modern and tight style - which can be shaped in all kinds of different directions via the level of Gain, and that excellently calibrated 3-Band EQ.
As detailed on the visual - The Mid and High Controls are Passive and sculpt a frequency curve / sweep of around 100Hz > 700Hz, and 900Hz > 6kHz respectively. In contrast - the Bass / Tight-Deep control is a smart Active Low End Cut/Boost - working in the c.70Hz frequency band range. I typically like quite a lot of Bass in my distortion - which translates to setting this control at c. 3 o’c, where I currently have Mids at around 11 o’c, and the Highs around 1 o’c. In any case their coverage is quite superb and you can shape your tone, timbre, texture in various ways - harder/sharper, softer, sweeter etc. Do note that even at low Levels of Gain - this still very much stays within the distortion genre.
I’ve currently settled on my Rhythm Tone Gain being at circa 9 o’c, while my Lead Tone Gain is at 3 o’c. There is a very balanced saturation and sustain - and this pedal sort of operates like a Ferrari - at maximum RPM - with a thick and saturated distortion typically.
The Ultrasonic is of course made with the finest components including those two really expressive opamp chips, its footswitches operate in the smoothest manner - with wholly noiseless and seamless smooth transitions between Channels 1 and 2. The switching system also remembers where you left off on restart. The right-hand Red LED marks the On/Channel 1 status, and the left-hand Blue LED marks Channel 2 Activation. So you switch the pedal on with the right-hand footswitch, and change Channels with the left.
As with the very best of High Gain pedals - the noisefloor here has been tuned to an absolute barely there level - which is always so impressive when there is that much gain on tap. The Ultrasonic also employs a Class A Buffer for superior output and signal clarity. You really cannot fault the operation of the pedal - which has so many classy touches.
There’s a Remote Channel Switch input on top of the pedal, while current draw is a fairly minimal 100mA Centre Negative 9V DC.
As I mentioned at the start - these are strictly made to order - so contact Ale direct via firstname.lastname@example.org for all inquiries. As each pedal is a mini project in and of itself, pricing is set on application - and Ale can put you fully in the picture when you contact him.
If you’re looking for a really formidable state-of-the-art Dual-Channel Moster High Gain pedal - then you may as well start your search here. This pedal’s forte is definitely those Heavier Chunky Tones!