The TAL Audio Armadillo Blues Preamp/Roadkill Fuzz is a dual-purpose pedal the company describes as “A low-noise instrument preamp with a footswitchable harmonic overdrive designed for the professional musician.”
Professional players and producers have indeed caught wind of the Roadkill’s usefulness as a front-end signal booster, especially for guitars with low-output pickups, and for recording acoustic guitars in the studio, where it allows the user to dial in lower frequencies (via a three-band EQ) while avoiding the boominess that mics can add.
But we were more concerned with how the Armadillo/Roadkill worked through a good ol’ electric rig. So we grabbed a tube combo amp and a single-coil-equipped Strings-n-Things Blues Master II, along with an all-pickups-aboard Robin Ranger Pro.
The heretofore-known-as Armadillo/Roadkill has only one switch despite its two distinct functions; there is no on/off switch for the clean boost operation. You plug it in, and it’s working; the stompswitch’s sole function is to activate/deactivate the Roadkill fuzz circuit.
On to the test…
Before we began tweaking the EQ, we noticed that the Armadillo’s all-analog circuit delivered the promised quiet and transparent preamplification. The active tone controls’ boost and cut functions work well, adding punch to the lows and sparkle to the highs. And even with the gain control turned up considerably, the preamp remained quiet, allowing the guitar’s natural tone to shine.
The activation of the Roadkill fuzz circuit gave the pedal added drive and sustain if used moderately, adding only a bit of noise. And the only nit we’d pick is that there is no status LED for the fuzz, so if you’re using the pedal for just a touch of boost, you might not be sure whether it’s on or off.
But there’s no mistaking on/off when you drive it a bit harder. Turning up the fuzz pushes the tone more into the realm of a Big Muff than an overdrive pedal. Ultimately, we found it worked better as a boost than a distortion pedal (which is its intent, anyway).
Overall, the Armadillo’s analog circuitry and quiet high-fidelity filters make this an outstanding pedal. Its ability to render essentially non-colored tone and a bit of fuzz make it unique and versatile.
Armadillo Blues Roadkill
Type of Pedal: Clean boost/fuzzbox.
Features: Quiet, high-fidelity circuits, made in the U.S.- Roadkill fuzz circuit.
Contact: TAL Audio, 23324 NW 102 Ave., Alachua, FL 32615, taljaz@bellsouth. net, www.talaudio.com.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Oct. ’02 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.