Review: Fredric Effects Regent 150 Preamp & Verzerrer Distortion

These two British-made pedals have both been designed in tribute to obscure kit from the old Eastern Bloc… but the results could hardly be more different.

East Germany used to be famous for Brecht, the Stasi and a lot of heavily drugged shot-putters. But repressive regimes need musical equipment too, so what better place for an indie pedal maker such as Fredric Effects to look for some left-field inspiration?

The Regent 150 Preamp is based on the front end of the Vermona Regent 150K, an amp from the 70s that almost certainly never made it over the Berlin Wall, while the Verzerrer is an update of ‘East Germany’s only distortion effect’, the Bohm Trickverzerrer. This should be interesting.

There’s a nice picture of one of those Vermona amps on the Fredric Effects website. By crikey it’s no looker, but you can see how lovingly the Regent 150 pedal has been modelled on the oh-so-dated styling of its inspiration. Fredric main man Tim Webster says he went into this project expecting the result to be a lo-fi oddity, but ended up with an unexpectedly musical tone-improver.

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That’s not quite the idea with the Verzerrer, which aims to faithfully recreate the primitive Bohm device but with modernised controls (the original required a screwdriver). It does, however, have six added dip-switches on the circuit board for assorted noise-reducing and volume-boosting functions. This one’s housed in a wedge-shaped enclosure reminiscent of the infamous Maestro Fuzz-Tone… which may not be an accident.

Fredric-Effects-Regent-150-Preamp-&-Verzerrer-Distortion
The Verzerrer is a simpler proposition – some of the tones here are sheer nastiness

In use

In the nicest possible way, how can anything that looks this naff sound this good? It takes us a while to get the best out of the Regent 150, but once we get there it’s a very, very hard pedal to switch off.

There’s a lot of top end available here, so the best starting point is with the treble set at zero while the other two controls both point to 12 o’clock. What comes out is a lot like the bypass tone but sweetened up with a sliver of extra zing. From there we can easily move to a gently mid-scooped boost that’s easily tightened up by pulling back the bass, or – with our amp set to the sweet spot – something like the focused chime of a Tube Screamer or even a Rangemaster.

There’s more, but we don’t have room to describe it all. Basically this is a magic-dust sprinkler along the lines of the Hudson Broadcast – maybe not quite so refined, certainly more hissy, but definitely more tweakable and arguably even more addictive.

Fredric-Effects-Regent-150-Preamp-&-Verzerrer-Distortion
The Regent 150 Preamp/EQ may look like an oddity but is heaps of versatile fun

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The Verzerrer is a much simpler proposition: it’s just pure nastiness. This pedal nails the splutter-fuzz effect as well as any we’ve tried, and the knobs do give some control over just how ratty and pinched it gets; but it’s limited, and the dip-switches don’t really open up any more creative options.

Of course, that’s the price of being true to an original circuit from the gloomy side of the Iron Curtain. We’re still glad the Verzerrer exists… but not half as glad as we are about its more colourful friend.

Key Features

Regent 150 Preamp: 9/10 (Editor’s Choice)

  • PRICE £120
  • DESCRIPTION Preamp and EQ pedal, made in UK
  • CONTROLS Bass, treble, volume
  • FEATURES True bypass; powered by 9-volt battery or mains supply (not included)
  • DIMENSIONS 109 x 68 x 49mm
  • VERDICT At least three pedals in one, all of them superb

Verzerrer: 7/10

  • PRICE £140
  • DESCRIPTION Distortion pedal, made in UK
  • CONTROLS Tone, input level, volume, intensity, bias
  • FEATURES True bypass; powered by 9-volt battery or mains supply (not included)
  • DIMENSIONS 144 x 82 x 65mm
  • CONTACT fredric.co.uk
  • VERDICT A fun box of angry splatter that’s a bit one-dimensional

Like these? Try this

Regent 150 Preamp

Verzerrer

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