A few weeks ago I reviewed the Colossus and I’m still impressed by the little beast. Mojo Hand FX has got me hooked and when they recently released a pedal that not only sported familiar graphics but also promised to capture David Gilmour’s tone, I just had to check it out. Here’s my review of the Iron Bell.
The Iron Bell is housed in a MXR-sized box with a bright status led, true bypass switching and it runs on either 9V battery or a Boss-style adapter. The pedal feature controls for volume, gain, tone and colour. The first three are pretty obvious, while the Colour control allow you to sculpt the frequency of the tone control – much like a mid range booster, although a bit more subtle.
To say that the Iron Bell is “Gilmour-in-a-box” is perhaps not fair. Of course, it takes much more than a simple stompbox to recreate his tones. But that was never really the intention either. The Iron Bell is designed to capture the vibe and feel of Gilmour’s tones throughout the decades. Since the early 70s, David has always paired his distortions with boosters and overdrives. From the Fuzz Face and Colorsound Power Boost combo to the classic Big Muff and Tube Driver setup, his tones has always had that powerful edge to them.
The Iron Bell isn’t based on any particular pedal but it definitely got a Big Muff flavour to it. It’s got the bright, aggressive top of the Ram’s Head, the fat lows of the early Sovtek models and the creamy, saturated gain of the RAT. If you do need a reference, think of a mix between the Cornish P2 and G2.
The first clip in the video, is an attempt at the Animals ram’s head and Power Boost combo. By maxing the gain, leaving the tone at noon and rolling off the colour, you’ll get a bright, aggressive tone with an amazing sustain and attack. The second clip, demonstrates David’s more recent Big Muff and Tube Driver combo as heard on the 2006 On an Island tour. By increasing the colour for a bit more mids, you’ll get that familiar, throaty tone. The last clip, feature the Iron Bell set up as an overdrive, typical of the smooth Division Bell Tube Driver and P90 pickups tones. Even with the gain rolled down considerably, the Iron Bell produce a creamy and warm tone.
So how does it compare to the Colossus? Well, while the Colossus is based on the Sovtek Civil War, with a dark, thunderous tone, the Iron Bell has much more gain and sustain, a brighter top and considerably less lower end. I also think it’s a bit more versatile than the Colossus, being capable of more than just the typical Big Muff tones. They both serve different purposes.
The Iron Bell can be paired up with a booster but personally I think it sounds best alone, with perhaps only some modulation and delay. What I especially like about it, is its ability to maintain its sustain and attack even at the lowest gain settings. Increasing the volume, also enhances the compression and smoothness. The Iron Bell also works nicely on bedroom setups and low volume levels.
Mojo Hand has done it again! Check out the Iron Bell if you’re searching for a versatile Big Muff-ish distortion that’ll provide a wide range of classic tones. Highly recommended! Visit mojohandfx.com for more details.
The Iron Bell was tested for both stage and home setups with a Reeves Custom 50 and a Laney CUB12 with both single coils and humbuckers.