If you had to choose only one pedal, what would it be and why? I guess we all asked ourselves that question and it’s for sure not an easy one. I think mine would have to be one that’s as versatile, yet basic, as possible. I might have found it in the Fire Bottle from Effectrode. Here’s my review.
OK, this is a bold statement, I know. What is the perfect pedal? Well, it’s a very subjective opinion and what might work for me, might be very wrong for you. It’s also about finding the pedal, or pedals, that will do the job then and there and that also makes a perfect match for your guitar and amp. My desert island pedal would have to be one that could make my guitar and amp sound better – like I was using several amazing sounding pedals. In my opinion, only a booster or overdrive would do just that. It’s down to the basics and the pure tone.
I must admit, I did have a hard time figuring out the Fire Bottle. It took me some time to realize that this is not just another booster. It’s much more than that and it really forces you to rethink the whole concept of tone and what it is that makes up a good tone. Once I got to know it though, I fell in love.
The Fire Bottle is essentially a pedal-sized vintage tube amp input stage designed to boost your cleans or, when driven hard, push your tube amp into creamy overdrive. The pedal is housed in a sturdy chassis featuring a sub-miniature NOS 6112 tube, true bypass switching, stage ready led and 12V adapter powering. It is recommended that the pedal is place first in your chain and used with magnetic single coil pickups for optimal performance.
The boost control ranges from 0dB unity gain to a massive 30dB boost. The tone control is a classic Fender ‘Harvard’ tube amp tone control with internal ‘Q’ adjustment to fine-tune the response. At the top of the pedal there’s a three-way mini toggle switch, the Vari-Z, that allows your to fine-tune and alter the tone of your single coils. Middle position is flat and all the pedal does, is boosting your guitar signal. In the down position the resonant peak drops about 2KHz making a single coil sound closer to a P90 or late 50s low output humbucker. In the up position the resonant peak drops down 4KHz creating a much fuller and fatter sound.
Now, this may sound very technical but what it really means is that the Fire Bottle is an extremely versatile booster that allows your to not only boost but also alter the basis for all your tones. Leave the toggle in the middle for a flat boost with crystal clean headroom ideal for your clean tones or for boosting an overdrive or distortion. Switch it down for fattening up your cleans or slightly overdriven rhythms and switch it down to make your overdrives and distortions sing for ages with dark and creamy mid range. The pedal can also be used for specific applications like beefing up your slide tones or glissandos (Gilmour’s slide technique on Echoes).
It’s very hard to describe a pedal that doesn’t do much. Well, not as much as a distortion or phaser anyway. The Fire Bottle is a tool and one you’d want to leave on all the time. I’ve tested the pedal on countless amps and guitars and no matter how good they sounded alone they always sounded better with the Fire Bottle. The guitar sounded more open and dynamic and the amp sounded richer, with more harmonics and attack. Although I’ve grown very fond of the down -2KHz position, I must say that my favourite setup is just a flat frequency setting, with moderate tone and boost setup. It makes the guitar amp and sound huge… an very expensive!
My desert island pedal? Well, I don’t know if I can ever answer that question but the Fire Bottle is damn close to being one. Highly recommended! Check out effectrode.com for more details.