Muffs and fuzz are cool but sometimes you just want to plug into a pedal that deliver classic tube amp like distortion no matter what. Iâ€™ve always been a huge fan of the timeless tones based on the LM308 chip. Arc Effects recently released the Soothsayer – their take on the old classic. Naturally, I had to check it out. Hereâ€™s my review.
The classic distortion weâ€™re talking about is of course the RAT. The pedal first appeared in the late 70s and together with the Tube Screamer, they marked a new era for distortions and overdrives. These pedals were designed to emulate the tone of a cranked tube amp and gave the guitarist an opportunity to get these tones on smaller amps and without the hassle of moody and sometimes unreliable tubes.
The Arc Effects Soothsayer is housed in a TRex-sized casing, with controls for tone (clockwise), volume and gain, true bypass switching and a bright stage ready led. The pedal also feature a 3-way toggle switch for different clipping stages: led, open and boutique. An internal trim pot also allows you to switch between high or low gain mode. Kind of like alternating between a Tube Screamer and RAT.
Thereâ€™s a lot going on here and the Soothsayer is definitely one of the more versatile distortions on the market. The design and circuit is high quality all the way and itâ€™s also a fairly silent pedal, although the high amount of gain and mid range naturally create some noise.
Letâ€™s go through the different clipping stages. First position (from the right) has a lot of gain and a fair amount of mid range. Still the tone is very dynamic and responds well to your playing. I used this for Young Lust in the clip, as it has some of the qualities of a Big Muff. The middle position is an open clipping, resulting in a slightly louder and perhaps less sophisticated distortion. This one makes a very good overdrive and at high gain settings it gets dark and squeezed like a germanium fuzz on full blast. The last position, the boutique, is the closest to a RAT, with a warm and smooth character. In dives right into those classic tones.
What I like about the Soothsayer is that apart from it sounding really good, Arc Effects has also manage to tackle the cons about the RAT. This one sounds much more open, still it has lots of mid range for that smooth tone. It sounds well balanced and never muddy, yet it has a great deal more low end compared to the RAT.
As we talked about in the How to Get Killer Tone on Your Bedroom Setup feature, mid range is crucial for getting your guitar to cut through a band mix. Both on recordings but not least on stage where the sound can get pretty dense. The Soothsayer does an excellent job at this and itâ€™s also a great choice for your bedroom setup, where typically mids scooped pedals can sound rather thin.
So as I said in the beginning of this review Iâ€™ve always been a huge fan of the RAT and the Soothsayer is, in my very honest opinion, by far the best take on the classic pedal. In fact, I like this one better. Check out Arc Effects for more info and be sure to watch Bret Kingmanâ€™s review for more on the different settings and tones.