Guitarists could argue all day about whether Eric Clapton still cuts the mustard. While many now regard him as a boring old snooze who should've hung up his designer loafers years ago, others remember a time when he rocked.
To them he is forever 'Slowhand,' Britain's greatest blues guitarist, and for those who saw him back in the 1960s he was even 'God'. At his best, Clapton was all about tone and that's exactly what this DigiTech Crossroads pedal promises mere mortals: seven of Eric's greatest guitar sounds in one compact box.
You don't have to be a Clapton fan to enjoy the sounds on offer here. Some of you will have already figured out that Eric used some great vintage gear to get his legendary tones. We're talking about a 1964 Gibson SG, a 1964 Gibson ES-335, a mega-bucks Gibson L-5 jazz guitar, a 1939 Martin 000-42 acoustic and 'Brownie,' his 1956 Fender Stratocaster. All that drool-inducing guitar porn and we haven't even mentioned the vintage Marshall and Fender amps that are modelled by this awesome pedal yet...
And imagine this: no matter what make or model of electric guitar you have in your gigbag, whether it be an entry-level Squier or a top spec PRS, it can now sound like a vintage Martin 000-42 - one of the greatest acoustic guitars ever made. How cool is that? For many players this accurate acoustic simulation alone - a killer tool for live work - will make the Crossroads pedal worth its asking price.
DigiTech has included some welcome flexibility with the Crossroads. The pedal has four control knobs: level, model and control one and two. Level is just volume by another name and model selects each of the seven onboard tones. Controls one and two, when set at 12 o'clock, give you Eric's tones. Twisting them up or down from that centre position allows you to alter various parameters like overdrive level or amount of reverb. This extra control means non-Clapton fans can enjoy this pedal too.
The Martin acoustic sound was taken from Eric's MTV Unplugged rendition of Layla. And that's the format here, with each of the seven tones on the Crossroads modelled on a particular song from Eric's back catalogue. Position one is the Cream classic, Sunshine Of Your Love. This setting nails Eric's legendary 1960s 'woman tone' setup of Gibson SG, Marshall amp and wah pedal. Next up is the live Crossroads tone. That's a Gibson ES-335 and a Marshall stack set to stun. Position three is a perfect recreation of the swirling Leslie cabinet sound from Badge, the best simulation we've ever heard. What's next? Only one of the greatest guitar tones of all time - the original 1970 recording of Layla by Derek and The Dominoes. Eric used his 1956 Strat, 'Brownie,' through a Fender Champ amp on Layla, and once again DigiTech has done its homework and reproduced his tone perfectly. The three remaining sounds on the Crossroads are taken from Eric's later work. Apart from the Martin acoustic already mentioned, you'll get his country rock sound from 1977's Lay Down Sally, and the beautiful Gibson L-5 jazz tone from his 2001 album Reptile.
The only real disappointment is that DigiTech hasn't included Eric's Bluesbreaker tone - the holy grail of British electric blues guitar. Its inclusion would have made a lot of guitarists very happy and it feels like an opportunity missed. We would have happily sacrificed the Lay Down Sally setting - not one of Eric's finest moments, in our opinion - for some of his 1960s raw blues power.