Amzel Cheshire Cat review

The purr-fect friend for distortion tweakers…

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The original blue Cheshire Cat is one of those `secret weapon’ pedals you find yourself wondering about when you sneak a look at someone’s setup after a gig. This new, green version boasts higher-quality potentiometers and a smaller footprint.

In other respects, the Cheshire Cat retains its unique appeal: six extremely interactive controls that really enable you to sculpt your sound. Distort and volume are the basics – keep the inject control turned down and you’ll have the services of a conventional distortion pedal.

Turn it up and you bring the resonance, frequency and accent knobs into play, giving you full access to the Tone Evaporator circuit. This is designed so the tone filter affects only the part of the signal that exceeds the distortion threshold, while leaving your basic guitar sound alone.        

In use

With inject all the way down, the basic sound is very usable. With distort at zero, you can set the volume so your pedal level matches your thru level. The result is a very pleasing lift to the guitar’s upper mids and a hint of gain ± basically, the pedal can function like a high-quality coloured boost.

Edging the distort up soon brings on a very amp-like character, where your playing dynamic controls the balance between clean and distorted sounds. The journey onwards takes you via crunchy chords to a full-on, compressed Velcro-fuzz vibe. If you want to tweak these tones, in a fairly conventional way, you can now turn up the inject knob while making sure the resonance control is set to minimum – which is actually when it’s wound fully-clockwise.

The freq knob functions like a basic tone control. Accent manipulates the playing dynamics – increasing it yields a more compressed, softer and valve-like character. You can increase the extent to which these controls shape the distortion by adjusting the inject level. When you’re ready to get serious about tone shaping, you start advancing the res knob.

This affects the unit’s filter response, and the effect is immediately noticeable. With res at full, sweeping the freq knob has an effect like the Q control on an envelope filter, yielding choked tones and vowel-like tonal characters. Somewhere on this trajectory, you inevitably hit an awesome lead sound or a funky lo-fi rhythm vibe.

What’s especially nice is that once you find your killer tone you can make it more or less pronounced by using the inject knob like a mix control. This is useful in the studio if you want to adjust the sound for different parts of a song.

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Price $248 Contact www.amzelelectronics.com

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