Gimme a K, L, O, N! If you are a guitar player who loves analog stomp boxes or are just mad about your tone (which all of us are), then you have probably heard, read about or been lucky enough to use a Klon Centaur. The name is synonymous with industry leading pure transparent overdrive. The history of hype all began in 1994 when Bill Finnegan released one of the first
“boutique” analog pedals in a time when many players were dabbling in the newest digital trends and rack gear. The idea caught on, and around 5400 of them were made up until 2009 when they were discontinued. Thus began the legendary rise of the diamond handed rare air grabbers sending the price of these pedals to as much as $8000 on the secondhand market.
If you take a peek under the hood of the Klon, it has all the makings of the best overdrive pedal. It differs from most overdrives in the way the gain pot is also used to mix in more clean signal. Couple that with a charge pump to run the guts at higher voltages giving the player more internal headroom and you can get a versatile plethora of uses.
Some guitarists swear by the Centaur as strictly a clean boost. Dial the gain back and rock the treble at noon and you can get that full transparent boost. Other players go for the gusto and crank the Volume to get the tone of your guitar and amp combination – only much, much bigger.
So who do you know that uses one? Well, Nels Cline of Wilco famously had this to say about his “I’ve written about it before. It's an amp in a box. No more worries in the world of AMP DU JOUR about overdrive tone. It will always be OK.” Along with Cline, other famous users include: Stone Gossard and Mike McCready from Pearl Jam, Warren Haynes, Britt Daniel from Spoon, David Grissom, Chris Walla from Death Cab for Cutie, and John Mayer. That is a nice tip of the cap to an analog hunk of metal and circuits to be able to sustain players across that range of musical stylings. Fundamentally this is the main reason the pedal leveled up to legendary status.
Given the high demand and consequently the price, the desire for top notch tone has given rise to a Klone War of sorts( not a misspelling ;) . The beauty of this, is that other boutique fx houses like the fellas from Interstellar Audio Machines, can summon the purity of the original pedal, but offer it at a price that is reachable to all. Interstellar’s Octonaut Hyperdrive is a prime example of what is possible in todays world with legendary guitarists such as Jimmy Herring of Widespread Panic, Zach Myers of Shinedown, Pete Loeffler of Chevelle, Jesse Triplett of Collective Soul and many more clamoring to get their hands on the Octonaut for all their overdrive needs. Suffice it to say that the torch has been passed opening up a new sonic wonderland to all who desire the tone of the gods.