Hello Sailor Effects is a relatively new company to the world of boutique guitar pedals. Manager Joseph Halliday is currently establishing the brand in his spare time and has made a handful of pedals to date. Guitar Jar reviews “The Demon” – a boost pedal designed to take an already cranked valve amp to the next level.
…the pedal looks great and it’s a going to be a head turner if you mount it on your pedalboard…
Hello Sailor Effects have a refreshing attitude towards the kudos of the boutique pedal market. Joseph remarks, “Boutique doesn’t mean you should have to re-mortgage your home or sell your car to be able to afford a boutique pedal – don’t let the price fool you”.
What makes that statement interesting is the choice of components used to construct the pedal; high grade components are implemented throughout, some of which are found in the top-end boutique pedal market.
Unscrewing the back of the pedal to reveal its inner workings, it’s clear to see a lot of time, care and attention has gone into constructing the unit. The wiring looks immaculate, featuring a vintage Phillips capacitor that dates from the early 80’s, high quality Suntan and box film capacitors and a Bournes trim pot for addtional biasing (this is set to Joseph’s recommended setting at the time of build).
The pedal is powered by a 9V power supply and there’s an interesting 9V filter on the side of the pedal to power an additional effects unit via a 2.1mm DC jack if desired. This pedal cannot be powered by a battery due to the 9V filter supply, however, for the “battery only” tone hounds among us, the filter can be omitted on request to allow the use of a battery.
The pedal is from Hello Sailor’s “Japanese Range” and is visibly striking, sporting transfers akin to classic Japanese tattoos and artwork. In addition, the pedal is hand painted (bright yellow) and I could visibly see paint drips around the sides of the pedal which really gives this pedal true boutique character. I’m probably correct in saying that no two Hello Sailor Effects pedals are truly the same.
True bypass comes as standard, a 3pdt stomp switch is used and when the The Demon is activated, a bright blue LED is clearly visible, helping you to see the pedal, however dark the venue.
The Demon is a simple to use pedal aimed at guitarists who just want to plug in and play. With just a volume control on the top of the pedal, it’s a case of setting your valve amp to the point of break up and setting The Demon to a level that’s going to tip your amp over the edge.
Joseph’s favourite setting is to have the valve amp on the edge of break up and set the volume on The Demon to 3 O’clock. I preferred the volume a little less than that, but that’s just personal taste.
To adjust the bias on the internal trim pot (this limits the output gain) it’s a case of unscrewing the back of the pedal and adjusting the pot with a small flat-head screw driver. As mentioned previously, Hello Sailor Effects set the pot at their recommended setting and in my experience of using this pedal, it’s a “set it and forget it” affair.
The pedal behaved just as expected; at 9 O’clock on the volume control, a minor increase in volume was encountered. At 12 O’clock, the valves were being seriously pushed and both a volume and overdrive increase were very present. With the dial set to 3’Oclock, the amp became very saturated indeed.
With Steve’s rig and with The Demon set at anything past 1 O’clock, the tone sounded a bit too muddy in the lower end when heavy chords were strummed. At 3 O’clock on the volume control, the chords lacked definition, the tone was quite muddy and the amp became very saturated – however, on this setting, solos, riffs and licks sounded good.
The Demon sounded best to our ears with the amplifier set on the edge of break up and the volume control set to approximately 11 O’clock. This allowed Steve to rely more on his picking and playing dynamics, changing effortlessly from various chord progressions to juicy lead breaks.
With regards to the internal trim pot, when I adjusted the screw from the recommended setting, it was difficult to notice a huge difference in the amount of gain the pedal produced. Admittedly, I didn’t adjust the trim pot too drastically (as I’m always a bit of a chicken with messing with the guts of effects pedals) but you do have the option to turn the bias screw a few times in each direction. After experimenting for a few minutes, I didn’t really notice anything too drastic in the change of gain, so I returned the screw back to its original setting and left it as “stock”.
One point to mention – when the pedal was used with a loud amp and with the volume control on The Demon set relatively high, a slight high frequency squeal reminiscent of an AM radio could be heard when the guitar wasn’t being played. As soon as the guitar was played however, the squeal disappeared. I’m not sure why this occurred, it could simply be a result of the large amount of high gain ready to kick into an already cranked amp. When we used the pedal on a setting that was more suited and dialled into Steve’s setup, there wasn’t a squeal to be heard.
I can’t really comment too much with regards to reliability as I haven’t used the pedal in anger over a consistent amount of time to give an honest response. What I do know however, Hello Sailor Effects are good in their communication and I’m confident their customer service would be just as responsive.
…Hello Sailor Effects has a bright future and I’m confident that the more pedals they produce and their standard of products improves even further, they can expect an exciting career in establishing themselves in the boutique pedal market….
The Demon pushes your already cranked valve amp truly over the edge. The pedal has a large amount of volume gain on tap and responds well to playing dynamics. I noticed that if it’s pushed too much, you may have to play with your amp/guitar tone settings to reduce the bass frequencies and you may notice a slight frequency squeal if really pushing the volume setting.
The pedal looks great and it’s a going to be a head turner if you mount it on your pedalboard. With features such as the quality components, the additional 9V filtered power supply and the hand finished paint job, you really do feel you own a pedal that’s truly unique.
Hello Sailor Effects has a bright future and I’m confident that the more pedals they produce and their standard of products improves even further, they can expect an exciting career in establishing Hello Sailor Effects in the boutique pedal market.
I’ve saved the best bit of information until last though – when filming the accompanying video, I asked Ben and Steve how much they expected to pay for The Demon. They threw a couple of typical boutique prices in the air, but they were miles away from the current RRP for this pedal.
At the time of writing (end of 2010/beginning of 2011) this pedal retails at the incredible price of £29.99 + shipping costs (no pun intended). That’s an absolute unheard of price, in any pedal market, certainly for boutique pedals – but don’t expect this price to stay so low for long though as Joseph is selling The Demon at low cost, to help grow the brand. As Hello Sailor Effects become more established and the quality of the products improves, I’m sure it will only be a matter of time before we see their prices rise accordingly.
For very low cost, guitarists can get their hands on a handmade, hand finished boutique boost pedal that does the job well. As Joseph mentioned at the beginning of this review: “Boutique doesn’t mean you should have to re-mortgage your home or sell your car to be able to afford a boutique pedal”… well, he isn’t wrong in this instance.
Hello Sailor Effects is good British boutique pedal company that has an exciting future ahead of them. Snap up their pedals at these amazing prices while you still can!
The Demon by Hello Sailor Effects:
Big thanks to Steve Coates and Ben Clarke for making this video. You can hear how much the The Demon slams the front of Steve’s Fender Blues Deluxe; there’s a serious amount of boost on tap, but when the pedal is dialled into your setup, it responds well to playing dynamics.
For more information about Hello Sailor Effects, please visit: