The market for OOP guitar effects pedals that have posthumously been elevated to holy grail status is so crowded that there’s plenty of room for the enterprising pedal company to offer more affordable alternatives.
With the launch of the Centavo and Warmdrive, Warm Audio has done just that, presenting players with two classic overdrive pedals that offer plenty change from 200 bucks.
One look at the picture above and pedalboard aficionados will be able to tell you straight off what these two are all about. The Centavo, in Warm Audio’s words, is an “accurate recreation of the most sought-after overdrive pedal of all time”, which, if market forces are to believed, has to be the Klon Centaur.
For an original ‘Horsie’ unit, expect to pay over five grand – but here Warm Audio asks for $179, and in an era of countless klones, this actually goes all in with the pastiche by borrowing heavily from the original for the enclosure design, with its champagne housing complemented by ox-blood knobs.
The Warmdrive references a pedal that is more of a cult classic, the Hermida Audio Zendrive, for an original in its box, hand-built and signed by Alfonso Hermida, the asking price can be up to £799 on Reverb.com. Warm Audio’s new drive – again, using similar a design as Hermida for its enclosure – is priced $179.
What you get for that money is not just a bargain version of a pedal that is long out-of-production and now rarer than hen’s teeth, but a sound that approximates the musical drive of the ne plus ultra of boutique tube amps – a Dumble.
And yes, no one can afford one of those.
Let’s look at these in more detail, starting with the Centavo. Warm Audio lists this as a ‘professional overdrive pedal’ and that is backed up by the list of players who have used one on the ‘board. Among whom, Jeff Beck is responsible for one of the features here, with the Centavo’s Mod switch on the back of the unit a mod he requested on the original Bill Finnegan design.
This rocker switch extends the pedal’s low-end response giving you more drive in the bass registers – great for thickening up a Strat, say.
The Centavo can be deployed as a boost pedal, always on, always working your guitar amp, but really earns its corn when dialling in a transparent crunch that enhances the magic between your electric guitar and the amp. The controls are simple: Gain, Treble and Output.
Warm Audio says it’ll take a bit to take it to break up; turning the Gain and Output to just shy of 12 o’clock will take it right up to the edge, thereafter you have some more teeth in the gain.
What the cork sniffers want to know, however, is what is under the hood, and here Warm Audio has used an array of premium components, with TL072 Op Amps, vintage-style diodes and an internal charge pump voltage regulator to make it respond like the originals.
As for the Warmdrive, you have controls for Volume, Gain, Voice and Tone, and plenty of sounds to explore.
“Whether you’re driving cleans into breakup, thickening up rhythm tones, or saturating solos, the Warmdrive can transform your amp from a polite and clean pedal platform into a fuzzy monster,” says the Warm Audio blurb.
In other words, it promises an abundance of sweet spots, with a wide range of dynamic gain for players to augment their sound with, either pushing their amp to break-up or saturated drive, or using the pedal itself to get there.
The Voice serves as a pre-clipping tone shaping control while Tone shapes it after the clipping stage, and experimenting with these two dials should be a lot of fun for those chasing that D-style drive a la Mayer, SRV, Ford et al. In short, if you can’t afford the six figures it would take to prise a Dumble out of the second hand gear market then the D-curious would do well to audition this.
Its circuit features 2N7000 MOSFETs, an NE5532 Op-Amp, carbon resistors, and 1N34A Germanium / Schottky BAT41 diodes.
The Warmdrive is true bypass while the Centavo is buffered. Both take a 9V DC pedalboard power supply, and both are available now, the Centavo priced £185 / $179 street, the Warmdrive £158 / $149.
See Warm Audio for more details.