Chevtone Honeyburst Germanium Overdrive
Chevtone Honeyburst Germanium Overdrive
Chevtone Honeyburst Germanium Overdrive
Chevtone Honeyburst Germanium Overdrive

Chevtone Honeyburst Germanium Overdrive

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$159.00
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$159.00
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Chevtone Honeyburst in mint condition with original box. 

Germanium transistors are what gave birth to the classic original Fuzz boxes. On the plus side they can be very rich, full and have a beautiful blooming quality.

On the face of it, the Honeyburst is a pretty straightforward overdrive pedal. It comes in a painted box (complete with a subtle honeycomb pattern), with top-mounted sockets, three controls, a mini-toggle and a bypass switch. The controls are labelled Vol (you know what that is) Tang (that’s drive to you) and Sweet (that’ll be the tone control), capped with bright orange knobs, they’re bold and unmissable. But it’s the Mode toggle that makes this more than just-another-overdrive-pedal. 

Here, we get to choose the flavour of the Honeyburst’s gain, as Chevtone’s circuit implements germanium, silicon and LED clipping diodes. Why would we want to do that? Well, as overdrive fans will know, each of these clipping methods has its own signature: germanium was used in many a vintage fuzz pedal and is revered for its smooth-sounding, colourful high gain. Silicon typically provides a slightly lower amount of gain and LEDs, meanwhile, offer a high amount of headroom, making this a great option when lower-gain transparency is required - in a boost for example.

The Honeyburst is designed to be a low-gain overdrive/boost rather than an all-out amp-in-a-box type source of overdrive. So, we started with our valve amp set on a fairly clean tone - just on the edge of breaking up - and with the pedal’s output set to match the volume of our clean channel to get a reference point. From here, we started upping the Tang to about halfway while also pushing the Volume control slightly. With these settings we’re really in boost territory, and with the toggle switch in the middle ‘LED’ position there’s an apparent level and low-end kick. 

Of course, the other clipping modes will also serve this purpose too - we’re talking subtleties rather than entirely different circuits - but as a boost the LED mode works like a charm for those situations where you just want ‘more’ without dramatically changing your feel or tone.

From here you have a choice - upping the output works our amp’s preamp harder while still remaining transparent, but roll in a little more of the Tang control and the Honeyburst’s diodes start to impart more colour on the sound. This comes in the form of added bite and presence from all three modes for a solid rock overdrive sound when played with humbuckers. But the gravelly, hard-edged, throaty tones coming from the silicon and germanium modes really come into play with the gain turned up. We did find that the LED mode started to become muddy at higher-gain settings, particularly when pushing into higher-gain amp settings. But with both the silicon and germanium modes, our note separation remains intact and we have a rock rhythm sound with added punch for very little effort.    

But while it’s sensible to remain in that territory, the real fun with any gain supplier is to crank it and see exactly how far it’ll go. The result is some pretty abrupt clipping that while we can’t really call full-on fuzz – it’s still overdrive, but it definitely has a vintage, fuzzy edge to it. If you’re looking for '60s-style tones, you’ll find them here: bags of compression and sustain while still maintaining clarity. With our neck single coil engaged, it’s part Hendrix/part garage rock. Back on the bridge humbucker, there’s a definite Smashing Pumpkins vibe to the germanium mode at higher gain settings, and tuned-down, we get some cool stoner-rock type tones that lean towards the lower-gain, grinding side of QOTSA.

Curiously, the germanium mode displayed a little more aggression to our ears in the ‘ripped velcro’ type fuzz territory than the silicon, which is the reverse of what we were expecting.

For what seems like a simple pedal, there are plenty of ways to use the Honeyburst thanks to the Mode toggle. As a boost, we liked the silicon and LED modes the best: allowing our amp to take the tonal strain and squeeze a little more out of the preamp valves. With the Honeyburst controls dimed, the germanium mode is where it holds most of its character.

 

We have to hand it to Chevtone. The Honeyburst looks brilliant, works for a surprising number of applications and sounds great for all of them. It can sometimes seem like everyone and their soldering iron is vying for a plot on your pedalboard, but there’s a lot to like here.