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Boost and Overdrive

Joseph Maxwell's Demiurge Instruments Killer Pedal Pair - Original and Re-Engineered - Chroma Drive/Boost and Doomy O))) Octave Distortion

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I’ve actually been tracking Joseph Maxwell’s Demiurge Instruments for quite a while and had long been looking to add his superb Doomy O))) take on EQD’s Life Pedal - probably since autumn/winter of last year - it just never quite happened until now! I obviously already had an EQD Life Pedal 2, and love to be able to get that pedal in an enhanced and even more pedalboard-friendly format.


Joseph actually started down this path 15 years ago in sort of Brian May fashion - building a guitar with his Dad in a shed - over the the span of just a single month. Those early years were mostly about luthiery, while Joseph started to get more and more interested in the electronics / harness side of things to the extent that he eventually decided that he should turn his hand to building pedals - which you can gauge from his Instagram page as happening during 2015. Those pedals were initially just intended to be for himself - but soon friends and acquaintances were requesting he make some for them too - and hence the origin of Demiurge Instruments proper.

Joseph still has a keen eye for guitars and luthiery and we both share an admiration for Yamaha’s discontinued RGX-TT guitar - once available in three glorious translucent sunburst colours - red, purple and green and with 2 different scale lengths (Original Ty Tabor and Drop6) - where the green is for sure the pick of the bunch both ways! The aesthetics and ergonomics here, type of trem-bridge, pickups, headstock shape etc. all really appeal - and I will likely be looking to snag one of those too at some stage in the future! Where I also quite like the Purple editions.


The catalyst for the Doomy O))) was the original behemoth sized EQD Life Pedal 1 release - where Joseph quickly realised that said over-sized format was not particularly practical or suitable for most players. As such there are 3 innovations here - firstly of course in the size and format of the pedal, secondly in the sort of Japanese Kawaii Cute / Hello Kitty style artwork, and thirdly in Joseph’s choice of Silicon diodes for the Octave mode - versus the original’s Germanium ones, as Joseph never felt that the Germanium ones performed sufficiently uniformly reliably - the Silicon ones deliver an equally fantastic zing but in a more robust, stable and controllable fashion.


So the Doomy O))) was always a shoe-in for me, while Joseph’s Facebook and Instagram-centric approach of 10-12 pedal batch releases makes it quite tricky to figure out which pedals are currently on the roster and to what degree each one appeals to you. So I sort of initially foolishly overlooked Joseph’s first original circuit - the actually superb sounding Treble-Booster into Electra circuit Chroma Drive - where it’s really all about Joseph’s fine ear for component selection and circuit manipulation. I had to rely on Joseph to bring that to my attention.


I also really like the look of Joe’s Hudson Electronics Broadcast-derived Black Mountain Signal Deluxe - which adds a few bells and whistles to that circuit - all while being encased in a compact enclosure. I’m just waiting for Joseph to get in some black aluminium knobs for that - and that will be added to the collection too. I of course also have the origin Hudson Dual Broadcast - but it’s larger form factor means it’s trickier to squeeze into my heavily congested pedal-chain - where a compact edition could be slotted in with ease - and therefore would get far more innings / rotations on the board.


Finally, Joseph is collaborating on another new pedal with good friend Ritch Tomkins of Stompkins Pedals - which current secret projects I hope to be showcasing soon enough. For now I’m exceedingly satisfied with the Chroma Drive and Doomy O))) which are both currently on the board for a rotation or two - here follow the usual details :

Chroma Drive Boost/Overdrive - £95


Controls - EQ (<Full-Frequency|Treble-Boost>), Grit (Stage 1 Gain), Push (Stage 1 Level), Gain (2), Level (2).


This is actually a really smart pedal based on the beautifully simple idea of channeling a Treble-Booster into an Electra Circuit. Which essentially means twin cascaded silicon gain stages - with a 2N3904 and similar in Q1 position, and 2N2222A / BC547A and similar in Q2 position. You get to control the Gain and Level of each transistor, and shape the tone really smartly via a RangeMaster Treble-Booster style knob which goes from Full-Frequency CCW, to full-on Treble Boost when cranked clockwise. You get superb breakup texture here through the gain range - and the pedal excels at everything from elegant Boosting - through to fairly gritty Low and Mid Gain. This is a hugely versatile pedal and genuinely a still somewhat rare future overdrive classic - I encourage everyone to take one for a spin.


As far as Preferred Settings go for the Chroma Drive - I'm deploying it in varying guises these days - sometime subtle and sometimes more full-on and gritty. I tend to start with EQ, Push and Level at Noon, and Grit and Gain dialled right back. Sort of similar to what I do on the Redbeard Angry Rhubarb - working on the First Gain Stage / Grit first, and then adding Gain 2 to taste!

Doomy O))) Octave Distortion (Life Pedal Clone) - £125


Controls - Distortion, Filter (EQ), Amplitude (Distortion Level), Magnitude (Boost Level), Clipping : None (Opamp) / 2 Silicon + LED Asymmetric, Silicon Symmetric, Octave (Octave Blend/Depth), Left Footswitch Boost Engage, Right Footswitch Distortion On/Bypass.


As mentioned in the intro this is essentially an enhancement of the Life Pedal 2 - expertly tweaked by Joseph through smart component selection and precise calibration. The key innovations here are threefold - Firstly the beautifully compact size - which is every bit as full featured and grand sounding as the EQD originals. Secondly the semi-ironic cutesy kawaii artwork. And Thirdly - the use of 5817 Schottky Silicon Diodes for a more robust and reliable Octave voicing. There's something quite magical about getting your grind on courtesy of a cutesy pink compact pedal - and I am always joyfully exhilarated by the grandeur of that pedal's output.


My preferred settings on the Doomy O))) are about the same as on the Life Pedal - where the Distortion, Amplitude and Octave are all typically Maxed out, Filter is at 1 o'c, Magnitude at 3 o'c and Toggle Up!

Final Thoughts


I love being able to shine a light on small, independent up-and-coming builders and be able to nurture and add to the success and reach of those fledgling brands. And Joseph Maxwell and his Demiurge Instruments brand are certainly worthy of your support too.


Of course there is a smattering of clones on the roster - which is always the case early days - while Joseph already has a number of original circuit ideas in the pipeline and we will surely see a cool follow-up to the Chroma Drive soon enough.


As I've said many times before - I track circa 500+ brands worldwide - and however much I keep my eye on the ball - I still have to process everything sequentially - and I have limited time and resources just like everyone else - so occasionally things slip through my fingers. This is why I spend such a considerable effort getting close with builders - so that they can also keep me informed on their latest innovations - as I cannot fully effectively track absolutely everything within the given timelines.


Regardless of my close connections - everyone has busy lives, and I'm often forgotten about by some - even after a fairly recent lengthy dialogue. I have no such fears for Demiurge Instruments - which brand I expect to consistently rise in people's affections - as I help showcase in more detail key pedals from the range.


I can't speak more highly of the two pedals I have in my possession to date - Joseph is immaculate with his circuitboard builds and the insides are incredibly tidy. Also, for a fledgling brand using the transfer sticker with clear-coat varnish methodology for pedal artworks - the finish is of as high a standard as I've seen for that genre. I really look forward to seeing this brand grow and evolve.


Right now Joseph doesn't have a dedicated website - so you are best off following his Demiurge Instruments Instagram Page for the latest release updates. As mentioned - he tends to make his pedals in batches of 10 or 12, and you need to message him via Instagram Messages, and pay via PayPal if you want one or two!


Note also that Joseph enjoys doing custom / bespoke commissions working with the customer to deliver exactly the pedal they need. So hit him up on Instagram for that too!


Anyone here tempted by this versatile pair?

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Stefan Karlsson
Stefan Karlsson
Guitar Pedal X
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