EarthQuaker Devices releases the Sunn O))) Life Pedal V3 – doom guitar tone connoisseurs rejoice

EarthQuaker Devices has reissued the Sunn O))) Life Pedal, with volume three of one of the most sought-after guitar effects pedals in recent years looking resplendent in a newly designed enclosure, and promising all the same city-levelling power of previous editions of the octave distortion and booster.

Designed in partnership with drone pioneers Sunn O))), and taking its name from their 2019 album, Life Metal, the pedal recreates “the core front end chain” of those sessions, and combines an octave fuzz inspired by vintage Shin-Ei FY2 and FY6 units with big box Rat-style distortion, and a big ol' clean boost to send the vintage tube amp in your life into hosannas of ecstasy.

While Sunn O))) guitarists Greg Anderson and Stephen O’Malley have a phalanx of vintage Model T Sunn guitar amplifiers at their disposal, pedalboards well-stocked with rare Japanese vintage fuzz pedals – and the kudos to hire Steve Albini – the Life Pedal offers easy access to some those sounds, all packaged in a compact format. Little wonder previous editions sold out so quickly.

EarthQuaker Devices Sunn O))) Life Pedal V3

(Image credit: EarthQuaker Devices)

There are two sides to the pedal, Magnitude and Amplitude, each with their own designated footswitch. A third footswitch brings the octave effect in and out. The Amplitude side is where you’ll find the distortion pedal side of the unit, with controls for Amplitude, Filter and Distortion, and a three-way rotary dial for selecting your desired clipping. 

Choose position one for no diodes and you will get “full grinding OpAmp assault at maximum volume” suggests EQD, while the second position offers asymmetric clipping with two silicone diodes and one LED, the third presenting players with the reassuringly familiar dual-silicon diode sound. 

The Distortion knob is packing up to +60dB of gain. The Filter knob controls a low pass filter and has a ~500Hz–30kHz frequency response. Amplitude controls output volume for both distortion and octave.

EarthQuaker Devices Sunn O))) Life Pedal V3

(Image credit: EarthQuaker Devices)

Speaking of which, the all-analogue octave effect is controlled by the Octave dial – turn it clockwise for more of it in your signal. The octave mix can also be controlled by an external expression pedal, which opens up a whole new arena for experimental sounds, but do note the effect is monophonic, with the best results achieved when playing above the 12th fret while on the neck pickup of your electric guitar.

Finally, there’s the Magnitude dial, custodian of an all-discrete MOSFET booster. You’ll find unity gain at 12 o’clock and a ruined speaker cone at the fully clockwise position… probably.

You can use it for guitar or bass guitar. Check out the bass demo below. As with previous editions, this is likely to sell quickly. Priced $299 / £369 street, the Life Pedal V3 is available now. See EarthQuaker Devices for more details.

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.