Since purchasing a Marshall Vintage/Modern combo, my pedalboard has shrunk considerably. In the Guitar Jar review of that amp, I’ve mentioned how I use my guitar volume control to achieve clean/rhythm/lead sounds. From time to time though, I’ve also been using a ZVEX Super-Duper 2-in-1 Boost Pedal to drive the Marshall valves even harder…
The ZVEX Super-Duper 2-in-1 pedal is essentially two ZVEX SHO pedals in one unit (you may or may not want to Google the full meaning of this ZVEX acronym!). The ZVEX SHO is a simple boost pedal, where the Super-Duper 2-in-1 puts two units together, allowing you to have the option to run either channel separately, or at the same time.
The first channel is a normal ZVEX SHO unit, where the second channel is almost identical, except with the addition of a Master Volume control.
You have to take things easy with this pedal. If you accidentally turn on the pedal with the volume boost settings fairly high, you may accidentally damage your amplifier. These pedals allow you to really crank the volume, so be advised to turn the settings off prior to firing up your amp.
When engaging the pedal, it’s dead easy to find a boost level for both channels very easily. Channel 1 is a simple boost and channel 2 features the Master Volume that pretty much acts as an overdrive/distortion pedal with any output volume. If both channels are on, they simply cascade into each other and if you crank the Master Volume of channel 2 to max, you then have two identical SHO pedals in one box.
It’s worth mentioning the knobs crackle when you adjust them, but that is OK apparently, as it’s just the components re-biasing themselves.
I don’t actually use this pedal as a volume boost as such; I mainly use it to drive the front of my amp even harder. Recently I’ve dialled my amplifier to run less pre-amp gain whilst cranking the amp’s Master Volume. As a result, I’m achieving a classic rock sound of the 70’s, where the Marshall is sounding very full, musical, overdriven and teetering on the edge of some heavier distortion.
When I engage channel 1, the amp drives even harder, which is exactly what I want. It’s a full, classic sound and still very musical, with the valves really working at this point. I find this setting to be perfect just to add that additional grunt in the rhythm/lead as and when it’s required. This channel also seems to add a bit of top-end sparkle, but I’m not too sure if that’s a feature of the pedal or my ears playing tricks on me. To be honest though, when playing through the Vintage/Modern, the subtle addition of this top end sparkle really compliments the amp.
Selecting channel 2 is interesting, as reducing the channels Master Volume control, you can really crank the channel and achieve a face melting valve driven sound. I’ve found the sound quality is a bit muffled if you use the pedal like this – don’t get me wrong, it still sounds good, but channel 1 sounds so much clearer, retaining the original tone of the amp, just with those valves being pushed a bit harder.
You can crank the Master Volume of channel 2, eliminating it from use but the problem there lies when cascading channel 1 & 2 – you will either get evicted, damage your hearing, kill your amp or all of the above. Be warned! Cascading the channels is fun, but you may need to tweak the settings as it can sound a bit mushy at higher volume levels.
ZVEX effects are handmade and have a reputation of being built to extremely high standards. I haven’t had any issues with this pedal yet and I’ve used it on and off for about 7 months.
ZVEX pedals are expensive – but like most things you get what you pay for. The Super-Duper 2-in-1 is a good pedal and it’s nice to have the flexibility to crank channel 2 and reduce the channel Master Volume to give your amp an even more overdriven sound.
Personally, I think I’d prefer just the single channel stomp box, so maybe a single boost unit like the ZVEX SHO would be more suited for me. Either way, if you’re looking to boost & push the valves on your all-ready driven amp, this is a thoroughly good pedal that will do just that and more if desired.