Danish pedal builders Lunastone have quite the reputation for making awesome overdrive pedals. Their True Overdrive 1 and 2 are some of the chewiest, most amp-like drive pedals you’ll ever play, finding their way onto the boards of touring pros and session aces around the world. So when their Distortion 1 and Red Fuzz 1 dropped, Nick Jennison was very excited to take a closer look at them.
While both pedals share the same beautiful minimalist enclosure, huge LED and angled knob layout with the True Overdrive 1 & 2, these two pedals are very much in the “pedal gain” camp. The Distortion 1 is essentially an updated take on the classic orange-coloured distortion pedal the late 70s, while the Red Fuzz 1 is a thick and classy sounding vinage-style fuzz pedal. But unlike the vintage pedals that inspired them, the Distortion 1 and Red Fuzz 1 don’t need an overdriving amp to help them along.
Resplendent in 70s orange, the Distortion 1 is a classic hard clipping distortion pedal at its heart, but there’s a little sponginess at the back end that feels like a high gain distortion pedal running into a cranked-up amp. Compared to the pedals that inspired it, it has a little more sag and smoothness in the highs - even running into a clean amp. This is important, because traditionally this type of pedal can be a little raspy without a “bed” of amp gain to soften those edges. If you’ve ever tried to cop Steve Vai’s classic “distortion pedal” tone using a clean amp, you’ll know what I mean.
The Distortion 1 has none of that harshness, but there’s still plenty of searing bite at the upper reaches of the tone control if you want it. There’s a very healthy amount of gain on tap too, but it’s not the compressed, US-style gain you’ll hear in many high gain pedals - this is very much a late 70s/early 80s sounding pedal. Think Randy Rhoads, early George Lynch, or even Satch.
RED FUZZ 1:
Much like the Distortion 1, the Red Fuzz 1 is a classic 60s/70s inspired fuzz with a little added back-end compression and saturation to help it “sit” with a clean amp. If you’ve ever run a Fuzz Face or a Tone Bender into a bright sounding clean amp, you’ll be familiar with how thin and buzzy they can sound - and how important the right amp is when it comes to recreating those classic fuzz tones of yesteryear. The Red Fuzz 1 is nowhere near as picky as those classic pedals, and will get you into Hendrix territory without having to annihilate your audience with volume. It also has a very usable range of gain, unlike classic 60s fuzzes that have to be run flat out. This means you can get just a hint of fuzz-inspired overdrive or full-on raging grind. The low cut becomes especially useful at higher gain ranges, either for helping cut through a mix or creating full-on blown-out chaos.
Both the Distortion 1 and Red Fuzz 1 are great sounding takes on classic gain pedals, re-imagined to play nicely with modern rigs. They represent a way to get some of the best-loved tones of the 60s, 70s and early 80s through just about any clean amp. They also benefit from Lunastone’s superb build quality, and (unlike the classic pedals that inspired them) they’re both true bypass and run on a standard 9v power supply. If you like classic tones but don’t fancy winding your plexi up to 11, you need to check these out!
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