Here’s a pedal that doesn’t seem to get the love that it deserves, the all tube, hand-wired, Bad Cat 2-Tone. This 8.25″ x 8.25″ chrome beast’s lineage can be traced to the Matchless Hotbox , but the 2-Tone ups the ante adding a second footswitch to bypass the pedal, as well as incorporating “true bypass” into the pedal’s design. Unlike some other tube based pedals on the market the 2-Tone’s dual 12AX7s run at plate voltage, which means its detachable power cord needs to be plugged into a wall outlet as opposed to running off a power supply or 9 volt battery.
Two channels, simple controls The 2-Tone has a single row of knobs for both channels. Channel 1 is the “tone boost” side of the pedal and it’s controlled by a Volume knob and single Tone knob. Channel 2 is the distortion side and it features Gain, Bass, Treble, and Master knobs. Channel 1 just made things sound bigger in the best possible way. The volume can go from a slight boost to pushing an amp into crunch territory, and the single Tone control is perfect for dialing in just the right amount of sparkle. Where Channel 1 is pretty straight forward, Channel 2 is where things get interesting. There is a huge amount of both gain and volume on tap so be forewarned, the 2-Tone can get loud in a hurry! The other thing that’s interesting is the lack of a dedicated mid control which is made up for with the very interactive Bass and Treble knobs. This channel takes more time to dial in simply because of how the Bass and Treble work in tandem to accentuate or attenuate the desired frequencies. I found my best drive tones came with the Gain around 1:00, Bass and Treble off, and Master around 9:00. This setting allowed for nice chunky chord work as well as a solid tone for leads.
The 2-Tone not only sounds solid, but it’s build that way too. The triple plated chrome top, heavy gauge steel chassis, and point-to-point wiring all add up to a pedal that’s big, shiny and attracts a lot attention for its looks, as well as its tone. If you’ve tried all the usual suspect transistor-based drive pedals and you’re willing to spend some time twisting knobs to get the most out of the pedal the Bad Cat 2-Tone is highly recommended!
Pros: Great tube tone, top notch build quality, can be used for DI recording
Cons: Price, size, challenging to dial in
Others to consider: Seymour Duncan Twin Tube Classic, Radial Classic Tube Distortion, SIB Varidrive
For this review I ran the 2-Tone into a Dr. Z MAZ Jr 2×12 Non-reverb loaded with Celestion G12H30 speakers, and for guitars I used an early 90s Les Paul Standard, 1952 Reissue Telecaster, Rickenbacker 360, and Vintage Hot Rod Stratocaster.
About the author:
Bobby Morelli is the lead guitarist in the Tampa, FL based rock band Drew Street Mary. He’s a tone whore and spends time worrying about gear when he should be practicing.
Web site – www.drewstreetmary.com
Twitter – @drewstreetmary