Aclam The Woman Tone: What is it?
If you’ve got anything by Cream nestling in your record collection you will already know what sort of sound your electric guitar will make when it goes through The Woman Tone from the Barcelona-based pedal company Aclam.
The ‘woman tone’ was of course how Eric Clapton described a certain sound he got. Slightly nasal, rich in mids, evoking classic soul singers of the era – the women, so to speak – you can’t miss it. And yes, you might well say, ‘Why can’t I just roll the tone control back on my guitar till I find the sweet spot?’ That is certainly a strategy. Clapton never made any huge secret out of it.
But Clapton’s rig, specifically his Marshall stack, was huge, and good luck to anyone who has the space to house one and the opportunity to crank it loud enough to make it sing. Good luck to anyone who owns a 1964 SG, too.
For most of us – for reasons of price, practicality and whatever – all that gear is out of the question, hence the need for something more convenient. Yes, something pedal-sized. And Aclam has stepped up, with what could be considered a Marshall-in-a-box overdrive pedal with a few twists. Firstly, its circuit features an analogue pickup emulation to solve the problem of where to source your 1964 Gibson SG.
This is designed to replicate the original PAF humbuckers you might find on a vintage Gibson. There are three controls on the enclosure, Volume, Gain and Woman Tone, and an undeniable Gibson vibe, with Aclam using black Top Hat-style with silver inserts for the controls and – best of all – featuring artwork by Marijke Koger, who was leader of The Fool, the Dutch art collective who gave Clapton’s SG the psychedelic treatment back in the day.
It’s a nice touch, as are the easy-access fasteners on the enclosure. You will also find an internal DIP switch for activating a darker voicing. There are two footswitches on the pedal. One to engage/bypass the effect, the other for bringing the Woman Tone into play. And that makes what might have been a niche drive pedal for Clapton superfans something really interesting. After all, what is The Woman Tone but a Plexi-style drive pedal with a specialist approach to EQ?
Aclam The Woman Tone: Performance and verdict
In a sense, with the eponymous Woman Tone footswitchable, the pedal is a two-channel drive pedal.
The Marijke Koger artwork, the name of the pedal, and its whole raison d’être are something of a distraction. The Woman Tone can serve all kinds of purposes on your pedalboard. As a regular overdrive, there is more than a whiff of vintage Marshall about it. With plenty of output underneath that volume control, it can also push your amp without overly saturating your sound.
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You won’t lack for gutsy drive. It nails the throttled Plexi sound, and that as we know works a treat with all kinds of guitars and for all kinds of styles. The pedal sounds great with humbuckers and single-coils alike, and the option of a darker voicing could come in real handy if you’ve got a Telecaster with a super-sharp bridge pickup and you want to take some of the high-end vinegar out of your sound.
That said, the Woman Tone knob really does roll the high-end off, working from 10 to 0. Where you would want to set it is a matter of taste, but across the frequencies, there’s a nice dynamic response to the gain, too. And yes, if you’ve got the Sunshine Of Your Love riff in your vocabulary, that is a more than appropriate means to taste The Woman Tone’s effectiveness at nailing that nasally vocal drive sound.
The build quality is impressive. Aclam’s Smart Track pedalboard mounting is a nice touch and could come in handy. It would be a picture to have Clapton A/B this with some of the gear he’s got locked away, just to see how close it gets. But for any player looking to access that sound without faffing around with your guitar’s controls, it’s just a click of a footswitch away.
Where next to go down the Cream rabbit hole? Well, you might just have to find a drummer as talented as Ginger Baker. Sadly there’s no pedal that can help with that.
MusicRadar verdict: It’s true to its name, offering a two-stage drive setup that brings in the Woman Tone at the touch of a footswitch, but it also serves as yet another superb option for players seeking out cranked Plexi drive in a pedal format. Who doesn’t like that?
Aclam The Woman Tone: The web says
"First off, as hinted at above, this is simply a great-sounding overdrive pedal by any measure. The voicing is certainly in the cranked-vintage-Marshall ballpark, but that’s a broad and extremely versatile crunch and lead tone for many genres and playing styles anyway.
"Setting aside the woman tone feature, the pedal makes achieving classic-rock sounds a breeze. But the pedal is also dynamic and expressive when applied to other styles as well, adapting to everything from roots and alt to indie and other more-contemporary gain-ramping needs."
Guitar Player (opens in new tab)
"Does it work? Absolutely. Your guitar and amp obviously make their own contribution, but we tried it with several different combinations and got pretty consistent results – that instantly familiar, smoothly sustaining distortion sound was always there in full voice."
Guitarist (opens in new tab)
Aclam The Woman Tone: Hands-on demos
Aclam The Woman Tone: Specifications
- ORIGIN: Spain
- TYPE: Overdrive pedal
- FEATURES: Relay true bypass, Smart Track pedalboard mounting
- CONTROLS: Gain, Woman Tone, Volume, internal DIP switch (darker tone), Woman Mode footswitch, Bypass footswitch
- CONNECTIONS: Standard input, standard output
- POWER: 9V DC adaptor (not supplied) 40mA
- DIMENSIONS: 137 (w) x 88 (d) x 55mm (h)
- CONTACT: Aclam (opens in new tab)