Geek MacDaddy British Ball Breaker
Professional musicians make their living
by their tone, and no one knows it better than L.A. sideman Jeff Rubin, who’s
shared the stage with artists like Oingo
Boingo, Randy Jackson, and Chuck Berry.
Jeff’s quest for tone led him to manufacturing his own hand-built pedals and Geek
MacDaddy was born.
The latest offering is the British Ball
Breaker overdrive/distortion, featuring a
powder-coated aluminum chassis displaying Britain’s flag beside a jovial Rubin in
guard’s uniform. The Ball Breaker uses
Burr Brown opamps along with Wima,
AVX, and Nichicon capacitors. The true
bypass pedal also features Gain, Presence,
Tone, and Volume controls for a number
of tonal possibilities.
Keeping with British tradition, the Ball
Breaker was tested with a Burns Steer
Cutaway into the AC30-inspired Top Gain
module of a Randall RM50. With Gain,
Presence, and Tone all set at 12 o’clock,
the Ball Breaker immediately nailed that
classic British distortion reminiscent of
Brian May or Jimmy Page. Adding some of
the Ball Breaker’s Presence knob changed
the character completely, leaning now
more toward a Marshall-type tone, especially with the tone knob cranked.
Geek MacDaddy’s Ball Breaker is a great
option for players looking for a warm,
organic-sounding pedal. It responds like
it’s actually part of your amp instead of
a separate pedal. It may not be versatile
enough for players in other genres like
metal, but if you need classic overdrive
this may be the box for you. – SS
Buy if … you love the sound of classic
British overdrive and distortion.
Skip if … you need a modern scooped
Electro-Harmonix Bass Metaphors
Electro Harmonix has recently released
a number of dedicated bass offerings,
including the Bass Metaphors. The Bass
Metaphors is an all-purpose channel strip
and distortion in one box made from
lightweight aluminum. It features separate Gain controls for clean and distorted
settings, as well as a two-band EQ with
dedicated EQ level. There is also a blend
knob for mixing the effected signal with
your dry bass tone, and a mini toggle
that switches on a preset compressor.
The pedal has an XLR Direct out as well
as dedicated 1/4” outputs for effected or
The Metaphors was tested as a DI on a
master session, with the tone controls
and blend set at twelve o’clock. It immediately sounded warm and round with a
Tobias Classic six-string. Notes over the
entire tonal spectrum were thick, and
the Metaphors handled the B string well.
There was a bit of top end hiss at first,
but it was controlled easily after rolling
off some treble. Engaging the distortion
yielded a great, tube-like grind that any
rock bassists would enjoy. Adding the
Metaphors compressor immediately tight-
ened up the overdrive’s definition, making
it more articulate. Switching back to clean
with an NS Design electric upright offered
a huge amount of growl fretless players
Bassists are utilitarian by nature, and this
box does it all. If you are into doing the
job with one pedal in your gig bag this
might just be it. – SS
Buy if … you need an all-purpose DI with
Skip if … you need a fully adjustable compressor.
Aguilar Tone Hammer
The Tone Hammer provides three bands
of EQ (with +/- 18 db of cut/boost plus
sweepable mids), and a direct out (with
pre/post and ground lift). It can serve as
a preamp (even drives a power amp!) or
DI, but also lets you switch between two
vastly different sounds on the fly.
For example, you could have a solo set-
ting with added gain and tweaked EQ.
Or you could alternate between a clean
signal when bypassing the unit and an
overdriven sound kicked in through the
Adaptive Gain Shaping (AGS) circuit that
adds a combination of drive and EQ.
The actual effect of the AGS varies with
the amount of gain and the midrange
settings. At low gain settings, you get a
bit of edge and the tone stays round and
full. At high gain settings, notes compress
more and the mids move farther forward.