BY GARY GUZMAN
of an amp. If you turn the knob
clockwise, it gradually brings the
guitar signal from a mild overdrive to a heavier distortion. The
Tone control is like the “Cut” control of a Vox AC30. It allows you
to control both the high and low
frequencies of the guitar signal.
Turning the knob to the left cuts
the high frequencies and enhances the bass frequencies, while
turning the knob to the right
does the opposite, enhancing
the high frequencies. The Volume
acts like a Master Volume, which
controls the overall output of the
effect. Thanks to the true bypass,
your clean sound (when the
Oxblood is off) is unaffected by
the Volume control.
hybrid of clean and “on the verge of breakup”
tones. The Tone knob is also very effective, and
you can really hear the difference in accenting
either the high or low frequencies, depending
on the knob position.
I couldn’t complete my test drive without giving it the Brian May test! I plugged in my
Burns Brian May guitar with three Tri-sonic
pickups. While the tone wasn’t instantly dead-on as a Vox/Queen tone, it was pretty darn
close! Playing around with different pickup
configurations as well as the Drive and Tone
knobs opened up an even wider variety of
An interesting feature of the
Oxblood is the trim pot, located
on the inside of the pedal.
Removing the four screws and
backplate of the pedal, you’ll
find the small trim pot on the
component board. The trim pot is used to
bias the Oxblood, and adjusting it has an
effect on how much distortion and sensitivity
the Oxblood will exhibit. It’s a nice, added
feature that allows you to fine tune the effect
to your liking and customize the tone with
your specific guitar and amp.
The HipKitty Oxblood is well built, easy to use
and great for transforming an amp into a Vox.
This tone isn’t for everyone, and probably won’t
please the high-gain metal guitarist. However,
if you’re looking to emulate a Vox AC15, the
Oxblood would be a great choice.
A Vox in a box? Sounds good to me! The folks
at HipKitty have produced a distortion pedal
known as the Oxblood. It was specifically
designed to emulate a Vox AC15 amplifier, with
an added tube stage for greater distortion and
a bigger kick. With this pedal you can achieve
that true British tube-amp tone, without the
British tube amp! Like all HipKitty products,
this pedal is a “hands-on” experience. It is
hand constructed, the component board is
hand etched and populated, and it is entirely
hand wired. On top of that, each pedal is hand
painted, so no two units are exactly alike.
You want to get a Vox in a Box!
You’re an AC15 purist and have to
have the real thing.
The Oxblood is a no-nonsense pedal. It consists
of an On/Off switch, an LED indicator, in and
out jacks, and three knobs for Drive, Tone and
Volume. It features true-bypass switching and
can be powered with either a 9-volt battery
or through its 9-volt power jack. The casing is
heavy duty and is sturdy enough for any stomping you may do on it. The hand painting is a
nice touch, with a red diamond pattern reminiscent of Vox amp grill cloth.
I began my test drive with my Charvel So-Cal
with humbucking DiMarzio pickups. I wanted
the full effect right away, so I cranked the knobs
to the fullest. Starting with a clean sound on my
amp, I stomped on the Oxblood and was welcomed with a warm and fuzzy British tube-amp
tone. It was as if my amp was instantly transformed into a Vox! It has a well-balanced fuzz
tone, with chimey high-mids but a warm low
end. The chords cut through nicely and were
not abrasive at all.
Click the speaker button to hear
sound clips of the Oxblood. For a
description of the clips,
Three knobs help shape the Oxblood’s tone to
your liking. The Drive knob controls the amount
of distortion and works like the volume control
I switched it up a little and strapped on my
Strat to try out the single-coil sound. I was
pleasantly surprised with the fat overdrive I
got from my single coils, and it added plenty
of sustain. I also liked backing off the Drive to
about 10 o’clock on the dial, and got a nice