I will preface this article by bringing to your notice that in the event that you want to read the very best overview of Klon pedals currently available, then take a look at Paolo De Gregorio’s piece on’pedals.thedelimagazine.com’ a really impressive and thorough feature. For my purposes, I am not really interested in covering absolutely everything, just those components that appeal to me as a musician and pedal aficionado.
I first got on the Klon trail as such when I acquired a standard EHX Soul Food – I was not aware at the time that it was a Klon-style pedal, I’d not really properly screened / trialed it, just read plenty of good reviews, and as its price was relatively low, it didn’t seem to be too much of a gamble. To me though it seemed a bit thin and unsubstantial – so I upgraded to the JHS’Meat & 3′ modded version, which considerably improved on the tonal feature with its modifications, but still sounded somewhat unbalanced to me – like the bass, mid and treble frequencies were somehow not correctly blended.
I then came across the first mini Wampler Tumnus, which I still love to this day – it’s a wonderfully even tone, with important improvements to the lower end, and a really balanced profile of frequencies – it pretty much sounds wonderful however you place it, and at all levels of gain. In coming across and researching the Tumnus, I finally became aware of the bigger’Klon’ class of organic / organic / transparent sounding overdrives which were supposed to preserve the tone of your guitar and amp and add natural and uncoloured overdrive.
So then back to the 12 pedals featured above and the very original hand-made Bill Finnegan Klon Centaurs of the 90’s (1994+). There are lots of currently available on Reverb.com and retailing at about #1,500 to #2,000 – and still seem to be very much in-demand by these sorts of vintage collectors. For my needs though those are rather overpriced and really quite over-sized for what they offer. Bill Finnegan now offers the more mass-produced Klon KTR that’s less than half the magnitude of the original, but supposedly contains precisely the same basic circuitry and components. If I really wanted an original-style Klon I’d find the KTR – but in its JHS modded version – that delivers a couple of extra voicing options.
The Bondi Effects’Sick As’, Pro Analog Devices’Manticore’ and RYRA’Klone’ all sound excellent too – with the former two giving you additional expressing options over the original – they’re still rather too big for my liking though – and – I have designs on the rest of the compact pedals featured here.
Alas Foxpedal has gone out of business*, but I have three of their excellent pedals and I fully intend to find the Kingdom Combo V2 before stock runs out on that – so that is most likely my next acquisition, even though the Tumnus Deluxe and J Rockett Rockaway Archer are already high priority on my wishlist. (* – Seems this was a 6 month hiatus only – Foxpedal is back).
The Greer Amps Lightspeed is strictly speaking the odd one out here, as it is not really a Klon clone, but I find it is tonal profile overlaps sufficiently and appropriately enough for this to be considered here, and it does seem truly wonderful. The Keeley Oxblood sounds wonderful too in both its first and Germanium flavours, and I have long been debating as to whether I might prefer that over the Tumnus Deluxe, but in the end the Tumnus has won me over – I listing both varieties of Tumnus here, as the first Tumnus is one of my all-time favourite overdrives and if space is tight – it is a wonderful option here.
I currently have two of those listed and am likely to acquire 5 more over the next few years, with the Foxpedal Kingdom Combo V2 and Tumnus Deluxe since another 2 likely buys.
Originals listed first, then alphabetical.
Original Klon Centaur – stopped – c#1,500-#2,000 (Reverb.com)
The first Klon Centaur is one of the most hyped pedals of all time one way or another, and it will seem pretty good, but is big and now unnecessarily costly. Originally hand-made by Bill Finnegan, who now outsources the manufacture for the newer more compact Klon KTR. There are numerous head-to-head evaluations online, and many support the notion that the newer smaller KTR is pretty much indistinguishable from the original Centaur – so if you really need the first flavour – do yourself a favor and opt for the KTR – that also has an additional true / buffered bypass toggle over the original. For me personally I like the slightly more influenced / coloured Klon clones with improvements to the frequency profile, particularly in the low-end.
Klon KTR – #279 (Original) | JHS Mod = +$55
Bill Finnegan’s more streamlined and easier-to manufacture edition of Klon – with added true bypass toggle over the original’s default option only bypass. To all intents and purposes this is the identical circuit and elements as the first and according to most experts online sounds just like the original. JHS do a neat expressing mod, but you will need to buy your KTS individually and then send it to JHS along with an additional $55 for the mod – that provides you two additional toggles to get a few more expressing options. If I really had to have an original-style Klon then I’d select the KTR – together with the JHS mods, but I enjoy so many of the compact Klon clones, I don’t feel it necessary to own the originals – the Tumnus Deluxe gives me a tone perfectly suited to my tastes – along with full 3-band EQ and another high gain toggle.
Bondi Effects Sick As – #229
This diminutive Australian pedal-maker run by Jon and Anna Ashley has just 3 pedals to its range, all are excellent – the larger enclosure’Sick As OD’ and compact’Breakers OD’ and then the ‘2026 Compressor’. The’Sick As’ splits the tone into separate Bass and Treble dials, and it provides a toggle switch to control the quantity of headroom and character of this drive. It gives this pedal quite a few tone-sculpting advantages over the originals, and seems really excellent. You get slightly more options for #50 less than the KTR – but this remains a relatively large pedal.
EHX Soul Food JHS Mod – #105
I have both the original (#76) and JHS modded versions – of which I favor the latter. The JHS version greatly enhances the tonal profile and adds in some much needed non invasive, but it still doesn’t sound quite as good as a Wampler Tumnus to my ears – the Tumnus being my favorite current Klon style pedal.
Foxpedal Kingdom Combo V2 – #229
I was really sad to see Todd Billow’s company disappear at the tail end of last year – there wasn’t any statement or anything – just all of a sudden the website disappeared alongside all social media channels. I have 3 of Todd’s pedals – The City V2, Defector and Wrath – and love how all of these sound and work. I am a particular fan of this 2-switch mix within the compact pedal format – a la Chase Bliss Audio. Anyhow, the Kingdom Combo V2 is another one of those 2-footswitch compact pedals including separate Ebenezer Clean Boost Channel – with a variety of tone sculpting dials, cutting edge toggle switch and push / boost order switch. Even though I lean towards a Tumnus primary preference, I cannot afford to let this one slip by – there is limited stock available, and I wish to snap one up before they all go – this will most likely be my next acquisition followed by the Tumnus Deluxe, which will likely though be my preferred choice. (I could not find some V2 compact enclosure demos on YouTube, so the above demo features the original V1 medium-sized enclosure!) .
J Rockett Rockaway Archer – #249
This is just another one of my favourite Klon-style pedals, was on my wishlist for some time, and was set to be my mini Tumnus replacement before the Tumnus Deluxe unexpectedly materialised. I’ve featured this pedal several times before, and I will most definitely be acquiring this Steve Stevens signature pedal at a certain stage, although it is now in the queue behind the Foxpedal Kingdom Combo and Wampler Tumnus Deluxe. With its 6 EQ sliders – it provides you a tonne of tone-shaping alternatives. I fancy the Tumnus Deluxe with its additional gain toggle and 3-band EQ may give me more of what I enjoy. I will have both finally though.
Keeley Oxblood / Germanium – #199 / #219
I heard and saw this on the fairly recent That Pedal Show Klon edition, where the original version of this sounded really remarkable. I was having difficulty deciding on a preference between this and the Tumnus Deluxe but decided that because I so love the mini Tumnus already, that it’s finest and most apt replacement should be the Deluxe version. The Keeley though is pretty much its equal and offers much the same tone-sculpting skills although in a slightly different format – versus the more standard course of 3-band EQ. I still love the sound of the Oxblood and will need to decide at some stage whether to acquire original or Germanium flavour.
Greer Amps Lightspeed Organic Overdrive – #199
This I also heard on a fairly recent That Pedal Show, and have heard Peter Honoré play with his several times on the Andertons channel. It’s sounded excellent on all occasions, and although not exactly a Klon clone, its tonal profile overlaps considerably and makes it a very supreme natural / natural / transparent overdrive from the Klon mould. This pedal has at least 3 higher priority’Kong’ ahead of it on the wishlist (Kingdom Combo, Tumnus Deluxe and Rockaway Archer), and it kind of vies with the Keeley Oxblood as the next choice then – each pedal actually offers something slightly different and has charm in that area – not to mention that I really need to possess 7 Klon clones, 8 really if I include my TC Electronic MojoMojo!
ProAnalog Devices Manticore – #229
Another pedal that I have caught a few times on That Pedal Display – it seems amazing but is rather large. Possibly the’Sick As’ gives you more tone-sculpting control even though the Manticore has its own options for that cleverly constructed into how its dials work. Still too big for my series though – would properly consider if they’compacted’ it!
RYRA The Klone – #199
Many pedal / Klon aficionados are adamant that this is the best proper Klon clone currently available, and quite reasonably priced too – comes in several different colourways. If I had been considering a pedal at this size, I would still more likely go with the Klon KTR – although this one does shave off a considerable amount of that one’s asking price. No special features here though – only the standard original 3 dial design.
Wampler Tumnus – #159
My current mainstay’Klon’ type favorite and among my most used and long-time all-time favourite overdrives too. Sounds wonderful at all volumes and gain stages, and rounds out the original Klon tonal profile to give it slightly more oomph and a more even complete profile. I love this pedal and will keep it as a backup for when I get the Tumnus Deluxe. I’ve included the mini here as it is a fantastic pedal in its right, and has to be among the best, if not the best mini overdrive!
Wampler Tumnus Deluxe – #189
This pedal really surprised a lot of us at the tail end of this past year. I was all set to acquire a J Rockett Rockaway Archer, but then Foxpedal folded and Wampler sprung this surprise on us – you can easily replicate the defaults of the smaller mini Tumnus but now have a full 3-band EQ plus a boosted gain switch – to give you more high-gain tones – the perfect update in every way as far as I am concerned. In theory this is at the top of my currently acquisition / wishlist, but due to Foxpedal’s passing – I will want to get the Kindom Combo V2 before it runs out of inventory and is forever no longer…
Within the world of the Pedal aficionado there still appears to be a lot of snobbery and pretentiousness. There definitely appears to be a kind of fairly wealthy middle-class collector for whom only vintage originals will do – which has fuelled the entire Klon price inflation thing – I understand 8,000 units of the originals were made, and science tells us that the Klon KTR is pretty much identical – so go figure.
For me personally I am not a tone snob, and I am not really trying to recapture exactly some original tone type – I like a flavour of it, and very much my own flavour profile taste. The exact same is true of pretty much all pedals – some individuals unfairly malign perfectly fine pedals because they don’t fit their precise criteria or tonal preferences.
We all have our own peculiarities and idiosyncrasies – and my requirement for combination of tone, dynamics, form-factor and flexibility would most definitely be disputed by others. I personally believe that the above selection of 12 gives you a compact summary of some of the best options available for those seeking this type of sound – whether you are a purist or a modernist.