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This article was originally published in issue #54
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Everything feels heavy and solidly put together, with no cheap plastics in sight that could snap or break mid-gig. Even the latching footswitch makes a solid ‘thunk’ noise that oozes quality.
Amazing range of highly responsive drive tones
Six-way Filter control adds tons of versatility
Lots of headroom thanks to 18v internal operation
No battery operation
Following on from its big brother, that was in production from 2005 to 2015 and remains in constant use with world-class bands such as Queens of the Stone Age, Aerosmith, Living Colour and Muse; Tom Quayle reviews the new and miniaturised Pigtronix Disnortion Micro Pedal
The original Pigtronix Distnortion pedal was a large format, 18v, analogue dual overdrive and fuzz unit with some cool features and became loved for its excellent sound and tons of headroom. In an age where micro pedals have become de rigueur for all manufacturers, Pigtronix has magically shrunk the enormous Distnortion into the tiny Distnortion Micro pedal, measuring less than 4” tall and 1.5” wide. Amazingly, despite sporting a 9v input, Pigtronix has managed to retain the internal 18v headroom from the original pedal, but there have been some compromises and even some gains from housing the dual overdrive and fuzz circuits in such a small housing.
Whilst you can no longer switch each circuit on and off independently, a new switch allows you to run the overdrive and fuzz in series or parallel modes for a huge range of sounds, from subtle edge of break up and drive tones in parallel mode to raging, out of control saturation in series mode. The 6 stage CMOS overdrive and analogue, diode-clipping fuzz circuits remain the same, giving excellent tube-like overdrive and pick dynamics, combined with a very cool and responsive fuzz. It’s just that now you can get way more gain than was ever possible with the original pedal.
The unit is incredibly well built with its thick metal chassis housing very neatly produced innards and high quality in and out jack sockets. There are four controls – Gain, Volume, Drive Tone and a six-way Fuzz Shape – all sporting high-end metal knobs with a grippy texture around the edges and easy to read faces, plus a small push switch for selecting series or parallel signal routing. Everything feels heavy and solidly put together, with no cheap plastics in sight that could snap or break mid-gig. Even the latching footswitch makes a solid ‘thunk’ noise that oozes quality. With all this said, the pedal is manufactured in China, so Pigtronix can keep the quality high without charging extortionate prices – a very nice combination.
The controls are easy to understand yet very powerful. The Gain dial controls the drive level for both the overdrive and fuzz circuits at the same time, while the volume control allows for both clean boosts and level setting as desired without introducing additional noise to your signal. The Drive Tone sets the cutoff frequency of a low pass filter placed on the output of the drive circuit only. This allows for attenuation of the highs when turned counter-clockwise and is very effective at taming more aggressively spikey pickups or amps. The six-way fuzz shape control is incredibly useful, placing six different filter shapes across the fuzz circuit for drastically different sounds in each position. These are referred to by Pigtronix as – 1. No Filter, 2. Mid Bump (808), 3. Low Pass (Carlos), 4. Treble (AM Radio), 5. Mid-Scoop (Muff) and 6. Low Pass (Bass). These filter ‘presets’ give the Distnortion Micro and an incredible level of versatility, effectively giving you six different drive pedals in one, or twelve when you combine them with the series/parallel routing switch.
In use, the Disnortion Micro is a powerhouse of drive sounds. To have such a range of quality tones from such a tiny box is remarkable, meaning that this could potentially be the only drive pedal you need on your pedal board. In parallel mode, the pedal responds wonderfully to pick attack and strength, with a very amp-like bloom and breakup. Even with the gain on full, you get bags of clarity, even with complex chords and the low end is well preserved from your original tone. This mode really allows you to hear your amp and guitar accurately and offers up enough gain for classic rock chords and bluesier lead tones. In series mode, things go completely crazy with more gain than you could possibly need and tones that approach self-oscillation at times, depending on which pickup you are using. Of course, you get True Bypass operation to preserve your tone while the pedal is bypassed and it’s worth bearing in mind that the pedal is too small to take a 9v battery, so a power supply is required.
Pigtronix has really hit it out of the park with their Distnortion Micro pedal. The package feels excellent overall, and they have even included a perfectly sized pre-cut Velcro strip in the box for quick mounting to your existing pedal board. The size, tonal palette, quality build and components and affordable price point make this a pedal that all self-respecting drive connoisseurs simply must check out. Superb stuff from Pigtronix again!
6 stage CMOS Overdrive
Diode Clipping Fuzz
18v internal headroom
True Bypass switching