I had meant to write this piece a while later, but I was somewhat prompted by the really awkward recent Crimson Guitars ThorpyFX YouTube Session / Workshop ’thing’ - which really did not do sufficient credit to explaining or demonstrating just how beautifully tuned and high quality Adrian Thorpe’s pedals really are.
As an ex-army major, everything about these pedals has a sort of military grade precision engineering finesse about them - and indeed they are machined in Thorpy’s own engineering studio / metal workshop. These are very unique ecthed enclosures - slightly beyond the standard ’compact’ size owing to top-mounted jacks and overall enclosure design - fixing points etc. I am an avowed ’compact pedal’ aficionado, and thought for a while that these Thorpy pedals would not sit or fit easily within my very crowded pedal chain. But I was so impressed with the Fallout Cloud (formerly Muffroom Cloud) that I persevered.
The pedals are listed here by degree of accolades (which also happens to be alphabetical) - with the first fuzz one widely accepted as the best example of Adrian’s work. Both the first two have received awards on both sides of the Atlantic, while the last listed - the Warthog is still highly awarded in this country.
I had initially only really intended to get the Fallout Cloud, but liked that so much that I’ve decided these two will also be reeled in at some stage - regardless of the fact that I already have a tonne of preferred Overdrive and Distortion Pedals. In fact the Gunshot and Warthog remind me of another of my favourite pedal-makers - Zak Martin of Spaceman Effects, who is celebrated for his high harmonic content mostly fuzz, boost and drive pedals. In much the same way the Gunshot and Warthog have a ’Calibre’ dial which helps you dial in richer harmonics and textural ’thickness’. Of course Thorpy’s pedals are not typically artificially limited in numbers (vs Spaceman), and are usually plenty more cost-effective.
I don’t really need a Spaceman Aphelion, or Thorpy Gunshot and Warthog, but I am committed to getting all of those eventually - with the latter UK-made ones in much better distribution and more easily accessible. There are of course other decent pedals within the Thorpy Range I like the look of, including the forthcoming Team Medic Buffer, Active EQ & Boost - which gives my Jackson Audio Prism a run for the money - particularly as it has 3-Band EQ which the Prism lacks, overall though the Prism offer just a touch more - but both are highly valid choices.
This is a beautifully balanced and refined, extended-range version of a classic Big Muff Triangle fuzz. The more fuzz-drive Muffs have always been sort of fuzzes for players who don't like fuzzes - and it's even more so the case here. You can get fairly smooth creamy overdrive out of these, or you can choose to open up the throttle for more full-throatetness. As I hinted in the intro, there is a sort of unintentional tonal ethos overlap with Spaceman Effects pedals - where both engineers focus on getting the most out of rich harmonic content and giving their pedals more texture and sparkle as a result. This is many players' favourite Muff, if not overall favourite fuzz, and every home should have one - a really versatile and beautifully richly harmonic fuzz.
I feel there is some very slight overlap here between Adrian's Gunshot and Spaceman's Aphelion Harmonic Overdrive - albeit Thorpy gives you one more dial to tune in your preferred sound - both sound wonderfully harmonically complex and have a wide range of tonality. Neither is in the'Transparent' category either - Thorpy's Peacekeeper Overdrive tackles that, so there is some well-intentioned colouration of the core sound, but in the most beautifully dynamic way.
I already have two amazing high harmonic content distortion pedals - the Bogner Burnley, and Custom Tones Ethos TWE-1 - which brim over with rich textural articulation. For the Bogner I had considered getting his Wessex Overdrive, but have discovered that in the lower gain mode with low saturation I can get a really decent overdrive out of that pedal too. So it's the same really with the Warthog - which you can dial down to decent lower-gain overdrive sounds, but it really shines at higher saturation much like the Burnley does.
There are now 8 pedals to Thorpy's current range (including forthcoming Team Medic), and all are really decent. I still hold firm that the above listed 3 are his must-haves and will do anyone proud looking for these more vintage-inspired tones. They're not intended for extreme metal-heads necessarily or those looking for something freakish and unusual - these all have a largely very refined palette within their categories.
I've been concentrating on various guitar-pedal projects this year - it is my Year of Fuzz as I've already mentioned several times and have a couple of pedals to complete that cycle, I'm also still trying to bring my existing pedal-chain fully up-to-date which currently means two more primary pedal swap-outs need to be done - and I'm waiting for one of those (Empress Zoia) to be released. Oh, and I also have a thing for Spaceman Effects - where I've come a little late to the party but am trying to be highly strategic in acquisition. That said, I have a thing for ThorpyFX too, and am looking to round out my trifecta in the very near future.
Of these three all will need to compete for a slot, while the Fallout Cloud is already one of the preferred ones for my key regular / conventional Fuzz rotation slot - currently occupied by the super-versatile Shift Line Termofuzz. The Gunshot will fight for supremacy against the Wampler Tumnus Deluxe and Greer Lightspeed - and the Spaceman Aphelion when I find the right one of those. While the Warthog will compete for rotation against the Bogner Burnley and Ethos TWE-1 - all are in very good company ...