Back in 2019 I became aware of the NuX brand of pedals. Maybe it was actually the end of 2018. It was whenever they announced that they were making a Klone. At that time, I was on a kick to try just about every pedal of that variety that I could find, especially the cheap ones. I already had several, and had my favorites (which are still my favorites today), but NuX announced their Horseman. It caught my interest because, knowing there were two types of Klons (the gold and silver), but not really knowing what the difference in them was, NuX was apparently making a klone that could be changed from one type to the other just by holding the switch down long.
So, shortly after it was announced, I placed my order for it. It was supposed to ship in like 2 months. After nearly 3, I got a notice that shipping had been delayed, but it was still coming. After waiting a total of about 4 months, I finally got it in hand. I excitedly pulled it out and put it in my chain to test out.
I was underwhelmed on all counts.
Granted, I'm not a huge Klon fan, I think in the right places, it is a standout pedal. Yes, I am one of those folks that Josh Scott hates because I like it at the front of all my drives on an amp that is just beginning to get some hair. Set the volume to push the amp and the drive at about 9 o'clock, and I think, on the right amp, that is one of those guitar tones that people chase. Sorry, not sorry, Mr JHS.
The NuX Horseman just didn't do much for me. It quickly got put in the closet and forgotten. A few months later, I pulled it out and tested it against some of the klones I had at the time. It didn't do very well. In fact, it went back in the closet, and was one of the first pedals I grabbed in the great gear purge of 2020.
On a sort of related note, in that same gear purge, I got rid of a Vertex Steel String Clean Drive. I had never really bonded with it, so it got sold. I'll come back to this in a sec.
So, earlier this year, I kept getting those targeted adds for the NuX Ace of Tone. I was completely unfamiliar with it. Turns out it is a double pedal with their Morning Star on one side and their Tubeman on the other. Two things caught my eye about it. First, it has a switch so that you can change the signal so it routes to the side that you want it to hit first. So it can go left to right or right to left. Second, the MS side is supposed to be their Blues Breaker circuit, and the TM side is a TS-type circuit. A good TS of some sort has been on my board since I first started buying pedals. The first OD pedal I bought was a TS-copy, but I didn't know it at the time.
Neeways, it was the BB side that I really wanted to try. I had heard a couple of guys talking about those along with the legendary King of Tone just before I started seeing the ads. I had never tried a BB-type that I knew of, and only knew that the KoT was talked about in the same hushed tones as the original Klons. Since, this had the circuit that I wanted to try as well as the circuit I always used and I could route it through either side first, I figured the worst that could happen would be for me to buy it, and then flip it because it sucked.
I had some Amazon gift credit, so I grabbed it there on the cheap. Got it the next day, plugged it in, and it has held a spot on my Affordaboard since. I prefer it routed right to left (BB -> TS). Honestly, I'm not super impressed with the TS side. It's just missing something that every other TS-type I've got (and kept) has. But I forgive that because the BB side sounds really good to me. It has a little thing on it called Shine-mode that pushes the treble, and, with that on, the pedal just sounds super good to me.
Then, back during the fall, I was talking to someone about trying to get that Robben Ford sound, and they told me that a lot of it was because he was using a Dumble amp. I don't ever see me getting a Dumble. Even if I am ever in a position to afford one, I don't think I could rationalize it. So I decided to try a D-type pedal. When I googled those, I saw the NuX Steel Singer. Since I had been liking the Ace of Tone so much, I decided to check them out. I found one on Reverb for $25 that looked in good shape, so I got it.
When it came in, I thought it looked an awful lot like that Vertex I had never liked. So, I immediately discounted it because I never really liked the Vertex. Although, in retrospect, I may not've given it a fair shake. I plugged the pedal in and started playing around with it. I immediately dug it! Kind of like this klones I have always had at the front of my ODs, I leave the gain really low and was using it to just push the amp. I like it better than any of my sub-$100 klones enough that it ended up taking that space on my Affordaboard.
Then, last week, I was thinking I wanted to try a cheap Marshall in a box. Saw one of the NuX Plexi Crunch pedals on Reverb for $20 and grabbed it. I don't have a Marshall to judge it against, but it sounds about like I expected it to sound. It'll probably get traded off at some point, but I'll hang on to it for a while.
Now they're advertising that Queen of Tone. It's a BB-circuit and their klone. Granted, I didn't like their stand-alone klone, I may give the dual pedal a shot. Just because. I haven't decided though. I got the Ace of Tone brand new for $110, but they're asking $200 for the Queen of Tone. I could get the two individual pedals for $120, so why would I want to spend an extra $80 just for them to be in the same box. If they drop the price to the price of the Ace of Tone, I may grab one.
That's been my NuX journey since I first heard about them. Some of their stuff has been extremely average, and some of their stuff I have really liked. You'll see the Steel Singer and Ace of Tone both on my Affordaboard below.
What budget-minded pedals have you tried that surprised you? Was it a good surprise or a bad one? Did any of them stay on your board? Let me know in the comments.
Bought a pedal the other day on a whim. Had seen it come across my Amazon feed a couple of times lately. Guess it's true that if you see something enough times you'll eventually click. Saw that it was $50 or something, but haven't been super impressed by the Nux pedals I've bought in the past, so I figured I would let this one go. Then it popped up on my " you might be interested" feed on Reverb.
I went ahead and clicked on that one. Guy was selling it for $30 + shipping. Shipping was half of what most folks were advertising. Less than most of the others with cheaper shipping. I made the guy my usual offer of the list price minus the price of shipping so that it would come out to his asking price of $30. That's not to say that the price wasn't fair already. He countered, and we met half way. Not a bad deal for either of us. It actually surprised me that he accepted because the pedal had only been posted a few hours.
It came in a day earlier than I was expecting, so I've gotten to play around with it for a couple of days now. Here are my initial thoughts and impressions.
I haven't researched this pedal more than a cursory google (to find prices more than anything). I believe that it's supposed to be an amp in a box along the lines of the Dumble Steel String Singer. I'm not positive of that, but I think it's right. If that is correct, then it's an amp in a box of a very expensive amp that is the stuff of legends.
I had a Vertex Steel String Clean Drive back a few years ago. I think I bought it in 2017. I never meshed with that pedal. I'm not sure if it was supposed to be a similar amp in a box or not. I just know I had other drive pedals that I liked better. So in the great gear purge of 2020, it went the way of the gear that left the casa. That pedal and this one have a similar look, but I don't know if they are the copies of the same thing so any comparisons between them may be unfair. I'll just say that, since they look so similar, my mind immediately went to the Vertex that I used to have and didn't really like, so my expectations were really low.
Pulled it out of the box, plugged a battery in, and started playing with it. In fairness, it has been exclusively through my Gibson ES-339 into my Spark amp's Dumble Over Drive Special model. That's the amp model I always use with that amp, so it's the one I used. Admittedly, I have not tried it through my Blackheart amps or using single coils yet. So this isn't an exhaustive review by any stretch.
Stuck all the knobs on the pedal at noon and the 339 on the neck pickup, hit a chord, and it sounded truly awful. It was so dark that it was bordering on being just muddy. That's a probably I've never had with the Gibson before. Checked the guitar to be sure that the tone wasn't still on 2 (where I've been using it on some jazz-ish stuff) and then cranked the tone (Filter) knob on the pedal all the way to the right. It lost the mud, but it was still dark enough that it's not something I would use. Fiddled around with the Vol and Gain knobs, and it didn't help. Well ok. My thought then was that I'd probably just turn around and sell it. Got a good price on it, so I should at least break even on it.
Switched to the middle position on the 339 and hit a chord. You know what, it doesn't sound half bad there. That bridge pickup pulls in enough high end that it balances the darkness on the neck pickup. Dialed the treble back on that Filter knob, played with the Vol and Gain some more, and it's not actually sounding too bad.
So I switched to the bridge pickup. Dialed the Vol to about 2 o'clock and the Gain back to about 9 or 10 o'clock and set the Filter on about 11 o'clock. Dude!! This pedal is sounding super good now. I sat and ran through jam track after jam track for about an hour just playing along with those settings, and was totally digging it!
So now I'm kind torn. My initial first impression what that I was going to flip it pretty quickly. It doesn't really work on the neck. But it sounds so good on the bridge that the thought actually crossed my mind that I should put it on my board to use for some lead tones. It also makes me really wonder what it's going to sound like with single coils. Since they're usually a little treblier than humbuckers (at least mine always seem to be), it makes me think it's going to be really good for those. I need to pull a Strat or Tele out of the closet to try them out with it.
So what's my verdict? I'm honestly not sure. I think in the right setting with the right guitar and amp it's going to sound really nice. However, from my experience with the neck pickup, if you don't have the right gear, it's going to sound pretty crappy. For the moment, I play that 339 almost exclusively. I'm not sure I want a pedal on the board that will only work on the bridge pickup, but it sounds so good there, I might give it a test run anyways.
Regardless, it sounds good enough on that bridge that I think I'm going to hang onto it for a while. I've got some recording ideas brewing where I think it might come in handy for some lead tones. After all, at $32 shipped, it's not like it's going to keep me from buying the next piece of gear if I keep it.
Does it sound like a Dumble? No idea. I don't have a Dumble that I can use to A/B it. On the bridge pickup of my 339 into an amp model of a Dumble ODS does it sound good? Absolutely with no question. Should you buy one? At $50 new, if you're curious and the money's burning a hole in your pocket, you can always get most of your money back if you don't like it. If you can catch a deal on one used on Reverb, it might be worth an afternoon's entertainment and you might actually like it.
Now I'm off to pull a Tele out of the closet and see how it sounds through that.
So the other day I decided to pull out my Klon-type pedals, do some side by side comparisons, and see if my thoughts on them had changed at all. I figured this would be a good time to do this because I just got the NuX Horseman that I had ordered back in April, and was playing with it to see how I liked it. So, here they are in my order of preference.
Before I go into the pedals, I should also mention that I always use the Klones in the same way. With the amp just at the edge of breaking up, I'll have the gain on the pedal set minimally, the treble set in the middle, and the volume set a couple of clicks above unity so that it's pushing the amp a bit. So it's more like a clean boost I guess. This is where I believe these pedals really shine.
What are your thoughts? Tried any good Klon-type pedals that just really stood out to you? I've heard really good things about the J Rockett Archer, but haven't gotten my hands on one of those yet. I've also heard there are some really good ones from back before the recent onslaught...the Aluminum Falcon, the JHS copy that they no longer make, the MXR Sugar Drive (although I think this one may be one of the recent ones), and others. Some day I'll have to make it a point to pick some of these up and give them a shot as well.
Snarf is a wannabe musician who currently resides in the great state of Texas. His wife is his favorite. He believes chocolate milk made from milk that is anything less than whole milk is basically water and deserves to be dumped down the sink so nobody has to suffer through it. He hates having to shop for clothes. But he has a thing for really cool bags, and, consequently, has more gig bags than guitars and a closet full of messenger bags and backpacks. He still misses his dog who was taken by cancer 5 years ago. Check out his Reverb shop and see if he has any gear he's trying to get rid of.