Boutique overdrives, man. It gets really, really hard to keep up! A few years back, if you had a Tim or a Zendrive, guitarists would come from miles around just to get a glimpse of them. And you couldn’t even touch them if your hands weren’t deemed toneful enough, because everyone knows that human touch from un-toneful hands kills the tone fairies locked up in the boutique pedal boxes. That’s why they’re painted so pretty…to coax the fairies into them. And then wham! We trap them inside the Malaysian Texas Instruments RC4558 chips with the state of Texas outline on them. I remember when some guitarists I knew first ordered like, the first Tim pedals ever. And they talked about it in hushed tones, and even seemed like they were making me go through an audition before they gave me the Paul Cochrane’s number. (Which by the way, I must have failed, because they never gave me the number. I’m not sure how I could have failed, though. I mean, they weren’t impressed by the 9 analog delays I had all running into each other at the same time? And by my knowledge, that I shared quite openly, that ‘Where the Streets Have No Name’ could not be played properly without said 9 analog delays? Ya, I probably wouldn’t have given me the number, either.) But now it’s like, ‘Oh, the Zendrive? Ya, I’ve had a few of those. They sound great, but……don’t the Toneczar pedals cost more?’ The quality of the pedal hasn’t changed, and neither has the price……it’s just that new overdrives have come out that are now even more expensive, and even harder to get. And of course, if there’s one thing we know about boutique pedals, it’s that scarcity equals price, and price equals tone.
So this Landgraff Dynamic Overdrive is going to sound spectacular. It’s expensive, hard to come by, and is one of the current ‘automatic tone’ pedals. You know, the ones that give an immediate pass to how your tone actually sounds? You’ve got a Landgraff? Your tone must be amazing! These are the types of pedals I rely on. I hear tone by what the internet tells me.
(Sorry, it’s getting harder and harder to find good shootout pictures. I’ve already used Heat, Tombstone, and Hot Fuzz in previous shootout posts. So I figured I’d use Vince Vaughn in Mr. And Mrs. Smith, as the CIA assassin who lives in his mom’s basement. This is one of those movies that I would never be able to look anyone dead in the eye and say, ‘It’s a great movie.’ But yikes, do I enjoy it! Like Tremors.)
But in all seriousness, this Landgraff DO gets incredible reviews, and has some great clips out there. I’ve been wanting to try one for a long time. These are handmade by John Landgraff, who started out by building some great original TS-808 clones. And as far as I know, he only sells his stuff directly through Blue Angel Music. The Landgraff Dynamic Overdrive (Landgraff DO or LDO……for some reason, the cool factor on boutique pedals rises exponentially per initial added) is actually quite amazing with the different tones it is capable of. The gain knob is a gain stage knob, which for whatever reason, I tend to like. And then there is volume and tone. But is also has a switch that takes it into this crazy versatility territory. The middle position is just its normal overdrive voicing. But the top position shifts the mids up, and you can really get aggressive Marshall tones. And then the bottom position. Wow. Totally a fuzz pedal. Very, very cool.
Oh ya…and it’s painted like, awesome, so that raises the tone like, 50% right there. When your ears are taken away from you because the internet doesn’t have much info on a pedal, you can always rely on your eyes. John Landgraff is also a Christian, and each pedal comes with a tract. Which is cool. Well, except that they’re the cash-looking tracts. So you open the pedal up, and you’re like ‘Bonus round! A rebate!’ And then you’re like, ‘Oh.’ hehe But you don’t really think you’re getting a rebate with the pedal. And you gotta admire the guy’s heart for making a great pedal, and then doing his best to use his position to try to share an incredible gift. On a side note, though, ever meet with those Christians who give the cash tracts instead of tips? Like, ‘Oh, I don’t have to actually show God’s love to you by being kind and giving you money. I get to bypass that any real financial sacrifice for your benefit, because I’m giving you something better than money.’ Because Jesus definitely said, ‘Suck it up, I’m giving you something better than your physical needs’ when He was preaching and everyone got hungry. ;) No, He gave them free food. I’ve had some friends who have been servers at one time or another, and they all say they used to hate getting the Christian tables or the church groups after church, because none of them would tip. Way to go us. Spreading God’s love need not have any actions accompanying it, as long as you’ve got tracts, t-shirts, and words. And I’m just as bad, as I assume that typing this in a blog probably makes people assume that I’ve got the love thing under control; hence, I am exempt from actually doing it. ;)
But I think Landgraff putting tracts in is cool. Because he’s not having you pay for a $400 pedal, and then sending you a tract instead. hehe He’s saying, ‘Here’s a killer product, and here’s what I believe. Throw it away if you want.’ So, anyway, on to the shootout. Apologies for my long-windedness. But for those of you who still come to this blog, I’m gonna go out on a limb and assume you’re used to it by now. You either read through it and laugh at my incredibly short attention span (even on things in my own head…which is really odd), or you just skip to the pictures and videos. (Probably the latter.) Oh ya, the shootout!
(It is physically impossible for bad sounds to come out of a pedal that looks that good. In the word of Will Ferrell, ‘Beautiful.’ Not sure why it had to be Will Ferrell that said that, but that’s the first thing that popped in my head. And I do have a habit, unfortunately, of typing or saying the first things that pop into my head. Mmmm…Landgraff.)
–Landgraff Dynamic Overdrive (tone fairies and sweet paint job included)
–Hermida Mosferatu (at 12 volts)
–Paul Cochrane Tim (at 12 volts)
The Clean Tone
Prairiewood Les Paul (Wolfetone Dr. Vintage pickups)–>
65 Amps birch cab (Celestion Blue and Celestion G12H-30)
Possible Tonal Biases
–Not too many. They’re all true bypass, running through short cable lengths into each other, and the pedalboard is not in the signal chain in this video.
–I didn’t call Landgraff to see if the DO can be run higher than 9 volts. I probably should have done that. But it seemed to react very well and have enough headroom at its rated 9 volts.
–I’ve had much more time to set the Tim and Mosferatu to my rig.
Possible Personal Biases
–I got the Landgraff in a trade, and I know I have to sell it. It was supposed to double as cash for me. So…I might not want to like it. Or I might want to like it, so I can post here in my blog about how stupid I am when it comes to pedals, and then people will laugh and I’ll get more blog hits and my self esteem will rise as I check my stats. (Wow, this honesty thing should probably stop if I want to maintain any semblance of coolness.)
–Gotta admit that the Landgraff would look really cool on my board. Everyone will say, ‘What’s that pedal?’ And I’ll say, ‘Landgraff.’ And then they will worship my tone without me even having to turn the amp on.
And the Shootout:
Well, the Landgraff definitely did not disappoint. It is an amazing-sounding pedal. For what it is, absolutely awesome. Warm, full, glassy…and could do low overdrive Tim sounds as well as high gain Mosferatu sounds. And it has this nice treble shelf that makes it sound very crystalline. Extremely nice. Almost like a fuller and warmer OCD. And the versatility in unmatched. To be able to do low gain, high gain, Marshall, and fuzz? Rad. But it does take over your tone a bit. In a really, really good-sounding way, but I tend to prefer more transparent-sounding pedals…ones that let more of my clean tone through. And it had a mid shift that I couldn’t get to come out of the sound.
So I think I’m sticking with the Tim and Mosferatu. They may not be as cool anymore, but I still haven’t found anything I like better. The Mosferatu is the only drive I’ve found that is able to get high gain without changing your clean tone. And the Tim, well…it just completely cuts through thick, full, and cleanly at any gain setting, with any rig. However, in a different time and different place (meaning, if I had more money), I would absolutely be keeping the Landgraff as my glassy leads pedal. I’ve wanted to do that with an OCD for a long time, but could never get over the thinness in that pedal. But the Landgraff DO takes that glassiness and keeps its fullness. However, I can’t get over my lack of funding for it right now. Maybe someday. Which probably means sometime next week.