I’ve had something of a David Gilmour and Pete Cornish fixation of late - obviously interrupted by homage to and celebration of the late great Edward Lodewijk Van Halen. There is just one final closing chapter on the Pete Cornish phenomena which is my listing of near match and sound-alike alternatives.
Pete Cornish pedals - the neater Deluxe line in particular are some of the very finest effects pedals ever created in terms of their beautifully and richly nuanced output - and those 5 listed here in particular - the G-2 Distortion, CC-1 ’Cornish Crunch’ Overdrive, P-1 Precision Fuzz, P-2 Precision Fuzz and NG-3 Imminent Amp Death Fuzz! I’ve always stated that if you have the means and the access - then you should of course be aiming for the originals. There are a variety of reasons why the Pete Cornish pedals might not be entirely viable for you though - the circa £600 price tag, the waiting list, and the fact even that some of the alternatives provide a little bit extra in some areas - or come in a slightly neater form factor. By all means if you can - then these 5 Pete Cornish pedals in particular are really worth getting hold of.
How I’ve played it is that I’m building up to that Pete Cornish level really - I find it hard to justify a £600 price tag unless that pedal is multi-functional and covers a very wide range of tones - like say a Delay or Reverb Workstation. Ironically though in some categories here I’ve actually spent more overall than the price of the Pete Cornish variant. Availability and immediacy is obviously a key factor here - and you rarely see Pete Cornish pedals at a discount - if anything they have a premium attached to them as they are typically so rare. Also - while the video demos feature a variety of earlier edition Deluxe Pete Cornish models - the ones I really like are the current crop with the central bumped-up footswitch! So there are a number of different criteria that you need to be aware of and that may be of greater or lesser significance to you.
These pedals listed are all somewhat overlapping in covering degrees or aspects of what the original pedals deliver - and as I mentioned - some cover a little more ground or in a neater or more accommodating form factor. The intention here is not to divert customers away from Pete Cornish - but rather to highlight what the different options are out there that may be more readily and suitably available for certain customers / players for whom Pete Cornish would never be a viable option.
Note that pedals are arranged for compositional symmetry and balance - while the Pete Cornish original is always listed first - there is no significance to the order of the other pedals. I also thought it would be more interesting to lead on the slightly broader G-2 variety versus the more alphabetically correct CC-1 - otherwise the pedal groups are largely in alphabetical order :
I've mentioned before how the Pete Cornish G-2 was supposedly sort of voiced after Jimmy Page's 1970's Super Lead Plexi tones, while the circuit actually started out as a fairly conventional Big Muff variant - most likely some derivative of Ram's Head. Pete then significantly honed and evolved the circuit - initially by adding 4 high quality NOS Germanium Clipping Diodes into the mix, but then tweaking various further elements of the circuit to make it quite distinct from anything else. The output of which is often likened to a ProCo Rat or sort of Plexi tone with very evident Big Muff underpinnings - particularly in the sustain department. I myself tend to call this variety Plexi-Muff based on how I feel it combines and best represents those two key characteristics. Each of the 3 alternatives is a slightly different take on the G-2 - with Vick Audio's V-2 and Top Tone's Drivegate DG-2 leaning more towards the Muff aspect of the G-2, while the Buffalo FX Evolution has slightly more of that Plexi / Rat flavour. Of the 3 alternatives the Brazilian Top Tone Drivegate DG-2 (R$1,280/$230/£176) is the most hard to come by - there have been a few Reverb.com listings over the years but not many. Buffalo FX is currently on a sort of enforced hiatus - meaning that we need to treat the Evolution (€219/£219) as being somewhat discontinued too, while the Vick Audio V-2 ($144) is generally more widely available. I personally own both Evolution and V-2 and really like each in its own way, while the Evolution is slightly more versatile because of its additional Contour knob, where plenty others will likely though prefer the slightly more Muff-like nature of the V-2. I would of course still like to own a G-2 some day, while my likelihood of getting my hands on a Drivegate DG-2 seems somewhat more remote. I feel I'm pretty well covered by the alternatives here and don't necessarily see an urgent need for me to try to pin down the original - we'll see what happens in time.
I've said before that if I only owned one Pete Cornish pedal - then this CC-1 would likely be it. With its formidably tuned 3-Band Active EQ, and beautifully balanced 2-stage soft-clipping overdrive with magical high end sparkle! When I first came across it I spent some significant time marvelling at its particular frequency profile and highly dynamic output and tried very hard to find near-match equivalents - which turns out I was quite unable to satisfy them. The CC-1 has a quite distinctive signature frequency profile and timbre that I just wasn't hearing anywhere else - until I came across Roman Belonozhko's Multifaceted Shnobel Tone Daily Driver - which doesn't overlap exactly, but has a really quite similar core tone signature - with those delightfully sparkling / chimey higher frequencies. In fact the Daily Driver has something of a Muff character to it too in its long-tail sustain, while it cleans up beautifully via your guitar's volume dial. I can't exactly put my finger on it - but there's really something magical too in what the Daily Driver delivers - it does not quite match the full 3-Band Active EQ of the CC-1 - but its combination of Active Baxandall 2-Band EQ and High-Cut 3-way switch allows it to cover a lot of similar territory. I will most likely still acquire the CC-1 at some stage in the future - while there is something equally appealing to me about the Daily Driver ($279)
As mentioned previously on this site, this supposedly started off as Pete's fairly authentic and straight-laced take on one of David Gilmour's V3 Red & Black variety Ram's Head Muffs - before Pete then applied his usual circuit-tweaker magic to deliver a fairly distinctive voicing. This has all the usual Big Muff characteristics you might expect for this genre with slightly clearer note separation and definition. At £603 it's also just marginally the most expensive Peter Cornish variety. I personally have well over 50 varieties of Big Muff - including numerous versions of the Ram's Head circuits. In fact I own each of the 5 excellent alternatives here - with the Buffalo FX M-1 (£239) the most recently added to my collection. The others here are a special 5-knob edition of the Basic Audio TriRam ($220), the Skreddy P19 ($214/£199), Vick Audio '73 Ram's Head ($144/£121) and Wren and Cuff Custom Shop Small Foot Caprid Fuzz ($218 as pictured) - all exceptional in their own right. I could also have added the Expresso FX Tup Fuzz which another exceptional extended-range Ram's Head variant, and my Toneczar OTP Fuzz ($399) - which is more of a general all-rounder BMP style fuzz, but particularly adept at Ram's Head style tones. I've obviously been collecting these for a while, and before I was even properly familiar with the Pete Cornish P-1. The irony here is that I've spent a few times over the price-tag of the P-1 in my quest for the best of this particular genre. Each of these delivers its own subtly nuanced take on the genre and while there is considerable overlap here, each also has some of its own distinguishing characteristics like say in note clarity and separation. I really love each and every one of these and on different days am drawn to one variety over another - while I very much doubt you would be anything but delighted with any of these. The P-1 is still probably something I would quite like to acquire eventually, but it's not something I really need, and it's not quite as distinctly unique for me as say the CC-1 Overdrive.
Pete Cornish's second variety of Precision Fuzz is a more refined and smoother derivation of BPM Fuzz - closely aligned to the Civil War Muff variety - another of David Gilmour's favourite varieties. Both the P-1 and P-2 have the same 3 - Volume, Tone and Sustain controls - while my alternatives here have 4-5 controls. They include the Vick Audio 1861 ($144/£121), Buffalo FX Patriot MKII (€199/£199), Mojo Hand FX Colossus ($159/£159), Stomp Under Foot Civil Unrest ($189/£189), and Wren and Cuff Custom Shop Small Foot Box of War ($222 as pictured). Unlike the P-1 above where I own all the featured alternatives - here I have just the 1861, Patriot MKII and Colossus (albeit the green edition). You will know from my Stomp Under Foot roundup that I have a number of those on my target list - including the Civil Unrest, and I also aim to pin down a Custom Shop Box of War eventually too. Generally my preference for Big Muffs tends to be Triangle then Ram's Head and then Russian varieties - while here for instance I prefer the Buffalo FX Patriot MKII over its M-1 sibling, yet I prefer the Vick Audio '73 over its 1861 sibling - these are marginal and nuanced though as I'm a huge fan of each and every variety - and in fact currently have all 5 Vick Audio Tau Series BMP variants in my chain for comparison - from the smoothest Black Russian through Ram's Head varieties and onto the slightly gainier Triangle style. I generally prefer the Pete Cornish P-1 over the P-2 but both are really decent - while I would always seek out the former first.
This final stage of the journey is an interesting one - as for the longest time I wasn't exactly clear on the provenance of the NG-3 and what sort of fuzz circuit it was based on. I kind of presumed it was a super-high-gain muff variant as that's mostly where Pete Cornish tends to operate. It was even an early catalyst for me to get the Toneczar OTP ($399) BMP style fuzz - as I thought with it's extended tone-shaping and gain-staging it would most likely get into similar territory. Yet I soon realised how wrong my original impressions were - and that the NG-3 was much more like a very tightly focused high gain Super Fuzz style variant - or nearest soundalike. Which meant that the nearest category match equivalent was the Toneczar Vault Fuzz ($399) already in my collection - I now of course have both Toneczar varieties. Yet it was the original one that is more similar to the NG-3 - and in fact can deliver an even wider variety of tones than the superbly capable NG-3. Of course like most of these others I still really want the original one, but it would likely play third fiddle to the CC-1 and P-1 varieties in terms of my overall preferences.
It's important to stress that the featured / listed alternatives are near-match sound-alikes rather than any sort of exact replica - and while all have a significant overlap with the originals, they each have their own distinguishing characteristics, variances and differences too.
I'm sure most would be delighted to own any of the Pete Cornish pedals featured here - while by price and availability they are some of the least accessibly pedals to be found anywhere for most would-be customers. I've also noted that my aesthetic preference is for the very latest variety of Pete Cornish Deluxe Series - which have that kind of convex bump around the central footswitch - while earlier varieties feature an exposed off-centre / right-aligned footswitch. The variety I like is very few and far between and rarely appears on openly accessible stores like say Reverb.com. Right of this moment there are 3 of the latest Deluxe Series varieties on Reverb.com - a CC-1 @ c£619 equivalent, G-2 @ c£588 equivalent, and a SS-3 at c£539 equivalent, weirdly there is also an SS-3 listed at c£782 equivalent which is slightly nuts.
Checking back over each variant - I feel I don't really need the original G-2 as my Evolution and V-2 deliver really good coverage of that genre type, for the CC-1 the Daily Driver is a very close match - but I still really want the 3-Band EQ original - as I feel it's the most unique of the Pete Cornish Pedals. I really don't need the P-1 and P-2 either as I have very solid coverage in those areas - and probably though actually have a little more work to do for the P-2 alternatives as noted, while the P-1 is really the one I would be more interested in owning. Finally the Toneczar Vault is probably a little more versatile overall than the NG-3 but I would still quite like an original NG-3 because of its truly intense laser-focused extreme voicing - it's probably more of a nice-to-have though.
The problem with all the above listed available Pete Cornish pedals - is that those are mostly at Electric Mojo Guitars in Canada - which would mean heavily punitive import charges which would render those acquisitions somewhat unviable. There are other Pete Cornish dealers - but they are few and far between and typically carry very little stock - and in fact the sole UK Dealer - Charlie Chandlers Guitar Experience only has the much larger Grey Series boxes in stock - which are of no practical interest to me at all.
If Pete Cornish Pedals were more readily available - it would lessen the need for derivatives and alternatives - while since those pedal are still too far out of reach for most - in every way. Knowing what the viable alternatives is - is ever more practically useful. By all means go for a Pete Cornish original if you can get one, but you shouldn't be disappointed if instead you go for any of my recommended alternatives. I hope this public service is well appreciated / well received by all sides!