The electric guitar players usually love to collect all sorts of pedals. Well, unless they’re really into the good old guitar in the amp with no added effects setup, or if they just don’t have enough money.
Either way, you’ll often see guitarists with all sorts of stuff in their signal chains, put within unusual loops, connected to different pedal controllers, expression pedals, and all sorts of wacky and fun stuff. However, there are certain pedals that just get easily overlooked, despite their importance.
Some of these pedals might just seem boring and uninteresting, or players usually don’t know how to properly use them, as is the case with a compressor.
There is one pretty simple pedal that people tend to overlook, and that’s a boost pedal. Yes, a stomp that just boosts your signal – nothing more.
But if guitar heroes like Tony Iommi, Ritchie Blackmore, and many others have used these over the years, then they must be worth it, right? Well, here we will be examining one of these boost pedals, the Zvex Super Hard On.
Zvex Effects is a relatively smaller pedal manufacturer that offers a whole variety of products. Everything from distortions and overdrives, over wahs and volume pedals, all the way to those super quirky step sequencers.
Aside from focusing on making good sounding products, Zvex also cares a lot about the design and overall aesthetics of their products.
But let’s find out more about this weirdly named Super Hard On booster pedal and what exactly makes it stand out from similar products by other companies.
The Super Hard On – just like any or most of other booster pedals – is pretty straightforward. There are input and output, one switch, and one control knob.
Well, this one is just a little bit more complex as it features an additional output jack which can be used for an additional amp or a tuner or a DI box or anything that you might have in mind like, for instance, separate effect loops.
But while it is fairly simple, Zvex definitely dedicated some real time and effort in making the pedal’s circuit. The input has a really high impedance and the output goes over the 8-volt peak.
What this actually does we’ll discuss more in the “Performance” section of the review. The transistor in Super Hard On are also very sensitive so it was required of the company to install a protection circuit in order to further prolong the life of the pedal.
Super Hard On can either be powered by either a standard classic 9-volt battery or a 9-volt DC adapter or a pedalboard power supply.
Since it takes only about 20 mA of power, it won’t really cause any trouble if you’re running multiple pedals through one single power supply.
It should also be noted that Zvex Super Hard On features true bypass.
There are two different versions of this pedal – the regular Super Hard On and Super Hard On Vexter. From the technical and practical perspective, they’re both pretty much identical. But when it comes to the design, the regular Super Hard On is hand painted. And more expensive.
Both have that lovely gorilla holding a guitar painted on it, although these are in different colors on these two products. The regular Super Hard On is painted gold and has no labels on the front panel.
The Vexter version is gray and has the printed labels for input and outputs and has “crackle okay” written for the only knob on the pedal.
The switch, which is a classic one you see on most of the pedals, is located right at the very center of the front panel, something that is a bit strange but doesn’t really matter as it doesn’t interfere with the pedal’s operation.
The overall dimensions of the Super Hard On are relatively small and you won’t have any problems fitting it into a standard pedalboard.
While the entire concept of a booster pedal might seem a bit too simple, this pedal is pretty useful and serves its purpose. The manual states that the pedal will allow your pickups to sound like they did the day they came out of the factory.
The output that exceeds 8 volts, what we mentioned in the “Features” section, distorts the sound in a way that resembles triode overload and does not create fuzz.
It gets the best results when used with a vintage or a vintage-style tube amp, pushing the signal and creating that organic distortion. It also helps up thicken the sound of single-coil pickups, especially going through tube amps.
The Super Hard On can also help in those cases where you go from the clean sound and stomp on your distortion only to realize that you’re actually sounding weaker. By pushing your signal, this pedal can help you overcome the problem.
It’s pretty obvious that the pedal is pretty well built inside out. In addition, Zvex being a small independent pedal company and all, the support is great, but you probably won’t have any issues or unexpected failures.
At the same time, it’s pretty weird to pay so much for a booster pedal. In this day and age where everything is going digital, it might seem weird to some that you have paid around $200 for such a product.
However, if you’re into the classic stuff and really care about your tone being 100% organic, then it’s definitely for you.
Either for boosting the clean channel of a tube amp and bringing it into natural distortions, boosting your amp’s lead channel, or just beefing up the sound of your distortion and overdrive pedals, Zvex Super Hard On comes as a great solution.
You just need to know what you’re looking for.