Visual Sound Garagetone Chainsaw

Let's hear it for hands: they pull the strings, fret the notes and throw the horns. But if all you do with your feet is tap out time, mount monitors and shoe the odd stage invader, then you're halving your body's potential to rock.

At this point, the more highbrow members of our readership will probably start muttering something about "favouring the organic break-up of valves" to "cheap outboard distortion". Their loss.

"Spin the dials and you'll hit a sweet spot that's bang in the middle of the sonic spectrum."

From the boutique-style units through to more affordable additions to your pedalboard, the modern pedal marketplace is a fun-packed pick 'n' mix, where a rainbow of sexy and savage stompboxes jostle for the attention of our size 10s.

No sector is more seductive (or more saturated) than distortion. From the moment that Roger Mayer built his first fuzzbox for Jimmy Page back in 1963, distortion pedals have been part of our lives. In 2011, there are so many models that stacking them up could recreate the Great Wall of China (possibly), which is cool, but also means it takes a special flavour of filth to get our attention and stop us going over to the multi-fx side.

Build

Calm down, folks: despite evoking skin-masked lunatics chasing nubile teenagers in slasher movies, the Visual Sound blurb quietly reminds that the Chainsaw is "a unique and very musical distortion, in contrast to its name".

Oh well. At least the Chinese manufacture means this high-end US builder is able to shoot for "expensive boutique distortion" at sub-60-quid, and if the controls are thin on the ground - Drive, Tone and Volume huddled on a steel chassis with the much-coveted true bypass - then that's exactly what you want on the road.

Sounds

No prizes for features, then, so it all comes down to tone. First reaction: this pedal is an absolute killer paired with a singlecoil guitar (we used a Tele).

Spin the dials and you'll hit a sweet spot that's bang in the middle of the sonic spectrum, where the low-end is thumping, the mids are bringing warmth and colour, and the top end is scything through the mix, if not quite like a chainsaw then certainly like a hedge-trimmer.

This unit's lower-level gain is perfect for bringing understated attitude to blues runs and punchy alt country, but VS's advice to pair it with a Drivetrain or V2 Route 808 is revealing, and the Chainsaw doesn't quite convince as a pedal for screaming molten-metal leads.

MusicRadar Rating

4 / 5 stars
Pros

Nice lower-level gain. Good tone.

Cons

Works best in conjunction with other pedals.

Verdict

10 years ago, you'd have killed to get this in your gigbag. Today, modelling units are threatening to make standalone distortion pedals an endangered species… but the Chainsaw can still cut the mustard.

Review Policy
All MusicRadar's reviews are by independent product specialists, who are not aligned to any gear manufacturer or retailer. Our experts also write for renowned magazines such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Computer Music, Future Music and Rhythm. All are part of Future PLC, the biggest publisher of music making magazines in the world.

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