Unlock Josh Homme’s QOTSA tones with the Skeleton Key, the new £99 drive pedal from Funny Little Boxes

Funny Little Boxes Skeleton Key
(Image credit: Funny Little Boxes)

Funny Little Boxes has unveiled a compact distortion pedal that offers the “thunderous sound of Queens Of The Stone Age in a box”. 

A two-hander between the English guitar effects pedal company and the Let’s Play All YouTube channel, the Skeleton Key is based around an op-amp driven circuit, controlled by a simple three-knob setup, and it promises to be the secret that legions of guitar players have been searching for – Josh Homme's guitar tone.

This is the boldest of claims. There are no shortage of theories and recommendations when it comes to his Queens Of The Stone Age electric guitar sound. 

Type “How to nail Josh Homme’s guitar tones” into your Google search bar and you’ll get “About 5,610,000” results, and even then that seems like a conservative estimate from the algorithm. This is a subject that has captured the imagination of countless guitar players ever since Homme came out of the desert with the big sky riffing of Kyuss. 

Homme’s tones are warm, kind of woolly, kind of fuzzy, analogue, old-school and yet never having really existed before he came on the scene. They are so prized that when players got wind that a Peavey Decade was used by Homme in the studio, prices for the practice amp rocketed – even if any of Peavey’s solid-state practice combos could have performed a similar job. 

In April 2022, Acorn Amps replicated that Peavey Decade mojo in a stompbox with the Solid State – a preamp pedal marketed to Homme superfans. Still the search continues. Homme’s tone is a Mona Lisa smile for guitar players. It’s Big Foot. It’s the Loch Ness Monster. It’s a mystery that won’t quit. 

Even if Funny Little Boxes’ Skeleton Key opens the door to his rhythm sounds, we’ll wager that the search will still continue. But listening to the demo video, in which the scratchy hot-wool of the No One Knows riff is played on a Charvel Superstrat and sounds… well, convincing, this Skeleton Key is definitely worth investigating.

Funny Little Boxes Skeleton Key

(Image credit: Funny Little Boxes)

It’s also inexpensive, priced £99 and available direct from Funny Little Boxes. It has top-mounted jacks on an enclosure that’s painted pillar-box red and emblazoned with custom artwork from Queens Of The Stone Age artist Boneface, and it is fairly straightforward, with Gain, Tone and Volume controls for dialling in a sound. 

That sound encompasses tones from across Homme's QOTSA catalogue, from the early hits of their eponymous debut, through the Rated R/Songs For The Deaf era to the present day with Paper Machete.

“The QOTSA sound has had guitarists forking out on expensive amps and pedals for years and still left them wanting,” says Funny Little Boxes. “Want no more as the Skeleton Key unlocks them.”

You can judge for yourself in the demo video above. And find our more at Funny Little Boxes.

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.