Plenty of stompbox fans remember the single-knob simplicity of Earthquaker Devices’ Speaker Cranker Overdrive. Kicking it up a notch, the new Special Cranker is another discrete analog OD that adds crunch and sustain while retaining the sonic qualities that make your favorite amp so cool.
Using knobs for Level, Tone, and More, the player controls volume, EQ, and the amount of gain for bumping-up grit and boost while leaving the amplifier’s personality intact. A toggle switch labeled “Mode” activates a diode selector offering asymmetrical silicon (Si) and germanium (Ge) diodes; toggled right, the Si sounds are brighter, edgier, and modern, with increased output and gain. Set left, Ge yields softer, warmer, more-organic tones with less output. The two work in conjunction with the More and Tone controls to create a variety of pleasingly gainy signal-shaping sounds for rhythm or lead. They work equally well in terms of responsiveness, clarity, and playing dynamics, but Si can cut like a Rambo knife.
With humbuckers or single-coils, the Special Cranker accentuates the best qualities of an amplifier. Powered by a 9-volt adapter, it’s the perfect size, easy to use, and adds sparkle and resonance, harmonics and sustain. Plus, it navigates the middle ground between overdrive and fuzz while doubling as a rock-and-roll clean boost in the best way.
This article originally appeared in VG’s August 2022 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.