Yeah, we know! You’re thinking, “Wha? Another overdrive pedal?”
It seems that one thing guitar players will forever be in search of is the ultimate dirty tone, and few players admit to being 100 percent satisfied with the tone they have. Whether it’s that one magical dirty tone or a variety of dirty tones needed for specific styles, most players are always on the hunt for new sounds to add to their tonal reference library. So here’s an overdrive pedal that’s well worth checking out.
The True Grit was developed by Bruce Zinky, who first brought us his unique Smokey amps – those cool amps made inside cigarette packs and colorful transparent polycarbonate boxes of the same small size. VG was also lucky enough to be the first to test drive Zinky’s Mofo amp and 2×12 cabinet, which was introduced in 2000 – a very cool rig.
Before launching his company, Zinky was employed as an amp designer at the Fender Custom Amp Shop, and was responsible for the development of a variety of popular amp models. The True Grit is his first stompbox.
Designed to produce a range of tones, the True Grit pedal is switchable between low-gain and high-gain modes. It’s built in a wedge-shaped metal box approximately 53/4″ x 41/2″ in size with two footswitches and five rotary knobs. An on/off footswitch (on the left) activates the effect, and a second “Boost” footswitch (on the right) allows you to alternate between the low and high-gain modes. LEDs indicate the mode for each switch – a green LED indicates when the effect is on, a yellow LED shows when the Boost is active.
The “Gain” and “Grit” knobs determine the amount of sustain and dirt. The gain control is self-explanatory, and “Grit” adjusts the upper midrange harmonics. The individual Bass and Treble controls let you dial in EQ, and the Volume governs overall output.
The effect operates on either a single 9-volt battery or an AC adapter, both of which are included.
We set up the True Grit with our favorite 100-watt Marshall plexi stack and started with all the controls set at 12 o’clock and the amp set fairly clean – well, as clean as an old Marshall can get.
First, we adjusted the pedal’s volume and gain to match the amp’s output. From there, it was really easy to dial up cool sounds right away. The True Grit offers a range of tones, from transparent boost for leads (or subtle enhancehancement) to warm, bluesy overdrive to gargantuan AC/DC-type overdrive to Yardbirds-type fuzz and hard-edged rock.
Depending on what you’re doing and whether you want to use the True Grit’s main distortion sound for lead or rhythm, there are a lot of options at your fingertips. We found the True Grit a nice complement to the inherent sound of our amp, and it produced a useful variety of tones for an assortment of musical styles. In some situations, the Boost settings may be a bit over the top (i.e. when used in conjunction with an already overdriven amp), the higher gain/higher grit settings may be excessive. But then again, it all depends on what type of sound you’re looking for.
Overall, the True Grit performed as promised, simply, efficiently, and without some of the extraneous noise that often plagues similar tone-coloring devices.
Zinky True Grit Pedal
Type Of Effect: Overdrive/distortion/fuzz unit.
Features: Separate On/Off and Boost foot-switches; Con-trols for Gain, Bass, Grit, Treb-le, Volume; Oper-ates on 9-volt battery or AC adapter, one year warranty.
Price: $135 (w/AC adapter and 9-volt battery).
Contact: Zinky Electronics & Smokey Amplifiers, PO Box 3973, Flagstaff, AZ 86003, (928) 522-0800, www.smokeyamps.com,e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s July ’02 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.