Guitar Effects Guide #2: The Klon Centaur – Does One Effect Rule Them All?
Klon Centaur – according to many guitarists, this is the best and most transparent overdrive effect to ever see the light of day, the holy grail of guitar tone. For others, it's just a better Tube Screamer. Whichever camp is right, this is probably the most expensive effect in history – on Reverb, you can get well-preserved examples for eight thousand dollars. As the prices of the original Centaurs are a bit out of range for most casual players, we won't just be looking at more modern alternatives, but rather at alternatives in general.
First, something for the purists. After a few years of testing and searching for the right components, Bill Finnegan, the man behind the original Klon Centaur, decided to bring it back into production. The goal was to make the effect more pedalboard-friendly and cheaper but also to continue the legacy of the original pedals. And in 2014, he succeeded. The Klon KTR was born.
The effect was indeed two times smaller and several times cheaper (thanks to Finnegan hiring a third party to produce the effects), but more importantly, the sound was almost indistinguishable from the original Klons. Rumour has it, however, that Bill Finnegan wasn't entirely satisfied with the quality of the pedals produced, so production quietly ceased after a few years. The consolation may be that you can still get a second-hand Klon KTR cheaper than the original Centaur.
J. Rockett Archer
If you don't feel like splashing out, or just don't have room for a monstrosity like the Klon Centaur in your pedalboard, don't despair. The Archer is just the thing you need. It's tiny in size, but don't let that fool you. It sounds very similar to the original Klons. Anyway, the fact that the J. Rockett Archer is perhaps the most widely used Klon clone in pedalboards around the world says it all. Even though he's starting to be pushed out by other products.
Wampler Tumnus Deluxe
When Brian Wampler, founder of the eponymous brand, made the first Tumnus, there were complaints about the pedal being too small. But the criticism didn't last for that long. After a short waiting period, the Tumnus Deluxe was launched. Not only does it have a larger chassis, but compared to the original small version, it also has a full three-band EQ and a switch between standard and hot modes for even more gain. This makes the Tumnus Deluxe a very appealing option for guitarists who like the sound of the Klon, but also want to make it more customizable to their sound.
Warm Audio Centavo
The Warm Audio brand is known for its ability to bring vintage pedals back to life. After the success of their Jet Phaser, many guitarists called for their version of the Klon Centaur. And they got it. The Centavo is basically a one-to-one clone of the Klon. Exactly the same chassis, the same dimensions, the same three knobs and the same sound, only on the back there is a switch called MOD that gives you a slight boost of bass frequencies. It seems that Warm Audio hit the nail on the head again.
Electro-Harmonix Soul Food
Again, we cannot leave out the Electro-Harmonix brand. Soul Food is one of the most popular boxes among the cheaper variations on the Klon Centaur circuit. It won't take up a third of your pedalboard and it offers exactly what you expect from Klon Centaur in terms of sound. Needless to say, about four thousand cheaper.
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