Solar Guitars puts the pedal to the metal with its stompbox debut, CHUG – a high-gain preamp with a noise gate

Ola Englund’s über-metal guitar brand, Solar Guitars, has made a powerplay for the metalhead’s pedalboard with the launch of its first ever stompbox – and, of course, it is named CHUG.

Referencing Englund’s YouTube catchphrase, this is indeed a unit that is built to chug, and is a high-gain preamp pedal, complete with an onboard noise gate to tighten up those riffs and keep unwanted noise at bay.

Solar has spent the past two years developing the pedal – a process that vice president and product developer Joe Delaney described as “totally intense”.

“Between the actual metal approach to the industrial design and the aggressively expansive feature set including multiple gain shaping options and a noise gate, we made something very special for the metal community in that it was created with a single goal… to Chug,” he said.

CHUG is an amp-in-a-box pedal that can be used as a standalone distortion pedal in front of your guitar amp, with a power amplifier or through your amp’s effects loop, or it can be sent direct into a guitar audio interface, which for the latter there is a bundled CHUG IR with each unit.

The controls are amp-like, with Solar using dual-function knobs to maximise tone-shaping power from a compact enclosure. There are Bass, Middle, and Treble dials. Both Bass and Treble are dual-function knobs, with the outer knobs adjusting Bass and Treble and the inner/top knobs controlling Presence and Depth respectively.

Solar Guitars CHUG

(Image credit: Solar Guitars)

Gain is a standalone dial, while the Output/Gate and LF Gain/HF Gain once more pull double shifts.

The latter is interesting and should prove very handy for fine-tuning your sound, particularly if you are alternating between electric guitars in standard tuning and low tunings, with the control allowing you to tailor how much of the low and high frequencies from your instrument enters the gain stage.

It answers the question that has been asked for ages… IT WILL CHUG!

Ola Englund

The noise gate shares space with the Output control. The outer/lower knob handles output, the inner/top knob controls the threshold of the noise gate, and it is worth noting that this threshold is affected by the gain controls on the pedal. When the gate is at work and stopping noise the LED will illuminate red. When green, it is waving everything on through.

“I always wanted the sound of a raging amplifier in pedal format, and we got it right with the CHUG,” said Ola Englund. “It answers the question that has been asked for ages… IT WILL CHUG!”

CHUG measures 4.72 x 2.75”, has a buffered bypass, and takes a 9V DC pedalboard power supply. It is shipping now, priced $199. See Solar Guitars for more information.

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.