Bill Finnegan warns Klon Centaur fraudsters are getting more sophisticated and shares tips for spotting a fake

(Image credit: Future)

You can debate about whether it is overrated, whether it is the best, but there’s no denying that Klon Centaur is the most legendary overdrive pedal in history, but with that mythos comes hefty prices on the vintage market, and with some units selling north of £5,000, there is no shortage of fraudsters looking to pass off a fake as an original. 

The Klon’s creator, Bill Finnegan, warned of this a few months ago on the Klon LLC Instagram account, and yesterday, 31 August, explained how the fakes are becoming more sophisticated and shared some pointers for spotting one.

Hitherto, Finnegan was reluctant to post advice on certifying a genuine vintage Klon, on the basis that such information will only inform the fraudsters. But when a buyer got in touch with him after become suspicious that his Klon was a counterfeit, Finnegan pointed out some key differences on Instagram.

“A dead giveaway that this is a fake unit is the die-cast enclosure: note the three circular flash impressions in the casting (two of which are on either side of the footswitch),” wrote Finnegan. “Note also the raised portion of the fin that creates the battery compartment – that raised portion does not exist in any of the sand-cast enclosures used in genuine Centaur units.”

You can see these details quite clearly in the photo, and so that should be that, right? Simply open up the unit you are about to buy and check it. But Finnegan has seen this story before. He warns that the fraudsters are getting wise to this, refining the design as they had already done on this particular fake.

“Also note, with this fake Centaur, that the fraudsters have corrected an obvious problem with their previous efforts, and are now using potentiometers that closely resemble the original CTS pots that I have used in every genuine Centaur,” Finnegan continued, leaving those searching for a Klon Centaur on the vintage market with a warning. 

“The takeaway here is that as genuine Centaur units are now worth quite a lot of money, there is a very considerable incentive for unscrupulous people to try to create and sell fraudulent units,” he wrote, “so . . . buyer beware.”

Launched in 1994, now out of production, the future is unclear for the Klon Centaur; there was talk – as there is always talk with this pedal –that Finnegan would release further batches. 

There are some certainties, however. One is that, with the vintage pedal market overheated to such an extent, more scammers will make counterfeit Klons, more people will be fooled, and greater caution is needed from anyone looking to add an original to their pedalboard. Indeed, these look the part with the gooped circuit. Verification of any vintage unit from an expert would be advisable.

The other is that other pedal manufacturers will continue to make their own versions of the Klon Centaur, adding features, modding it, and these Klon clones will undoubtably be cheaper than a second-hand original. Whether this Klon clone will sound as good as the original or not, that’s another question – one everyone wants to know the answer to,

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.