You can just picture the scene at the Crazy Tube Circuits HQ when the idea for the Unobtanium came up. Action items from previous meetings called for suggestions on how to make an amp-in-a-box style overdrive pedal with a difference.
But with so many drive pedals on the market, how do you cut through the mix?
Why not make a twofer, with a faithful clone of one of the most sought-after overdrives of all time on one side and amp-style drive on the other? No, make that two tube amp-style drives, and make them Dumbles. They don’t call it Crazy Tube Circuits for nothing.
And that is what we have here. Now, to source a Dumble guitar amps – a Steel String Singer and Overdrive Special – and one of those gold-boxed Klon Centaurs would be a six-figure endeavour, a John Mayer setup. For many of us, this would be one of the routes available to most of us to bring those sorts of electric guitar tones within reach.
There’s a lot going on here but the setup looks simple and approachable enough. On the overdrive side, you’ve got a switch that takes you between a standard Klon-style drive and a modded mode with extra gain and headroom. Another toggle switches between buffered and true bypass. Controls comprise Volume, Gain and Treble.
The D-style side has dials for Volume, Gain, Tone and Emphasis, with a toggle switch for alternating between a Steel String Singer-esque voicing (SSS) and an Overdrive Special (ODS).
Choose the SSS mode and you’ve got “clean and transparent overdrive with natural organic compression”. ODS adds a little more heat on the gain, boosting the mids and teasing out more juicy harmonic overtones.
One might imagine that either mode would benefit from a Tube Screamer in front of it for maximum SRV, and CTC recognises that the slightly larger format allows for more routing options, and has equipped the Unobtanium with an effects loop, so you can easily integrate the rest of your pedalboard or use both effects independently.
There is also an external footswitch input so you can toggle between SSS and ODS modes. Inside the enclosure you'll find trimpots to adjust EQ and volume boost of D-style drives. An internal charge
The top-mounted jacks should ease it onto your ‘board. If the magic of three Holy Grail tones in one pedal is real, the question might be whether you could bring yourself to take it off. Available now, the Unobtanium is priced €289.
See Crazy Tube Circuits for more details.