Hot idea: pack a sturdy-yet-petite 1590B casing with specially selected parts rendering a powerful, variable guitar overdrive, add a couple of vintage-look knobs, a titillating pinup-girl graphic, and call it The Harlot. On second thought, include a pinup graphic inside the meticulously wired box. That’s right, there are two pinup girls. We know – we looked!
From Michigan-based Larry Alan Guitars comes this user-friendly device with a big sound. In addition to the babe in garter and stockings graphics, you’ll find a stomp switch and a Gain and a Level knob, with an LED showing when The Harlot is engaged.
Hand-wired with a specially selected transistor, noise-cutting polyfilm capacitors, and metal film resistors with first-class Neutrik connectors, The Harlot renders a quiet, all-analog signal path. Manufactured with easy-to-assemble fabricated board and driven with a 9-volt battery or adapter via the DC jack, the pedal performs with the simplicity of early OD pedals, but with the advantages of the latest and finest technologies, including true-bypass switching.
The Harlot’s graphics fit right in at a New Orleans nightclub where there is still a tradition of burlesque. Plugged into a small tube amp, with Gain and Level knobs at 12 o’clock, it goosed the amp with some tuneful breakup, singing with a touch of compression. Lower gain settings were a sweetener that played well with chords – even the “color chords” that sometimes react poorly to an overdriven sound.
Past twelve o’clock with the Gain knob, The Harlot decided to kick up her heels. Even with relatively low output vintage single-coil pickups, the 1 to 3 o’clock range produced a gritty sustain, lightly compressed without being squashed, great for slide and left-hand tremolo workouts. Throwing caution to the wind, we dimed the Gain knob with the guitar volume down, added a Holy Grail reverb pedal, and volume-swelled into the kind of harmonic-jumping soundscape that develops and expands with every left-hand dynamic. Dropping the plug from a PRS into The Harlot expanded that territory, with the extra gain from the humbuckers supplying the juice for serious ’60s-style fuzz.
Indeed, occupying only a small pocket of pedalboard space and operating with a minimum of extraneous noise, The Harlot has all the bump and grind of a classic OD pedal.
This article originally appeared in VG October 2015 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.