The MXR Duke Of Tone answered the prayers of many players who don't want to wait around four years for an Analog Man King Of Tone overdrive pedal order. Most won't be able to tell the different except for one key issues; you'd need two Dukes to replicate a King. Maybe players can look to Tone City's £70 King Of Blues then?
Well it's certainly not got the authentic Mike Piera attention to design and detail in its blueprint, but as we noted in our cheap overdrive pedals roundup of boutique alternatives, it could be a reasonable way to get defined, harmonic overdrive, but combined with the influence of another in-demand pedal; the Klon Centaur.
Rather than the KOT's two identical overdrives in one unit with the option to switch between three modes, the King Of Blues channels a klone's 'transparent' boost for side A. Side B is said to be based on the original Marshall Bluesbreaker that many liken the KOT to.
That's a hell of a combo on. paper, so does it deliver? Well, as it happens Andertons put it in the mix with a King Of Tone and a Duke recently…
The UK retailer is a Tone City stockist and it could be argued it has a vested interest in mentioning this cheaper option. However you can also judge with your ears from Danish Peter's playing with his trademark Purple Custom shop Tele.
To be fair, Lee Anderton and Pete are quite honest in their appraisal of the Duke compared to the King (and they find the internal trim pot for treble cut that's vital to a fair side by side comparison because it's reportedly not set the same from the factory as the KOT). Then at the end they pull out the Tone City King Of Blues, and things get interesting!
Comparing the King Of Blues's Engine (side) B reflects favourably. Though an A/B with the King Of Blues's side A seems a bit redundant as it's based on a Klon, not a KOT. It's also important to note that Pete's King Of Tone has the optional higher gain mod, compared with the Duke that doesn't have that added capability.
Our conclusion? No matter what you budget or patience for long waiting lists is, we've never had it so good as guitarists with pedal choice. The King Of Blues impresses with two overdrives that can be stacked together – and for £70, who can complain?
And for authenticity we are loving the £179 Duke Of Tone; spend time with this pedal and its three modes and there's so much range to be enjoyed, that really lives up to the reputation the KOT as an overdrive pedal that compliments your guitar's character. And we might just be able to squeeze it on the pedalboard next to our Tumnus klone too.