Pedals

Catalinbread Formula 55

  • By Phillip Dodge @tonereport
  • March 11, 2017
  • 24 Comments

I’m here today to talk about the new Formula 55 “foundation overdrive” from Catalinbread. This new take on a Fender Tweed Deluxe-voiced overdrive pedal came about when Howard Gee, Catalinbread’s chief pedal designer, learned that some of the parts in the Formula 5 were no longer available. Rather than spending time testing and specifying new parts, Howard broke out the bread board and started anew.

Increased Headroom and Low Frequencies
While the Formula 55 shares some family resemblance to the Formula 5, it has its own thing going on. The Formula 5 has been one of my favorite overdrives for home playing for years. I love the feel, the responsiveness, the flubby bass, and the way it compresses just like a real Tweed Deluxe. Of course, every time I try to use it with a band, those attributes that make it a blast at home become impediments. It’s just too spongy and too compressed. Luckily, for the Formula 55 Catalinbread designed a Tweed-flavored pedal that imagines the 5E3 preamp mated to a much more powerful output stage. It’s sort of like that trick where someone takes a Tweed Deluxe and modifies the power amp to take 6L6s or even EL34s. You still get the all the touch and feel of a Tweed Deluxe, but with a HUGE bump in low end and head room.

Wider Gain Range
You also get a much wider range of grit in the Formula 55. On the Formula 5, things were dirty with the Gain turned all of the way down and they only got crazier from there. The Formula 55 sports a Volume control rather than Gain control. And it also offers a push button control for selecting between Hi and Lo Gain settings. With Volume all of the way down, you get no output. Between 8:00 and 10:00, you get sparkly cleans. The range from 10:00 to 3:00 are where you find the edge of breakup tones and had me alternating between Black Crowes riffs and classic Tom Petty. From 3:00 to 5:00 you get a big crunchy tone that works well for AC/DC riffs (certainly not a sound you’d expect from a Tweed Deluxe). You have the grit and the grease of the Tweed sound, but with plenty of low end and punch—it’s a best-of-both-worlds tone.

Switching to the Hi Gain settings, you move into the heavier Tweed tones. Once again, with the volume all of the way down, you get no signal. As you turn it up, you start to get more sag, more compression, but still more low end than you might expect. It’s worth noting that the tone gets a little thicker in low-mids when you switch to the Hi Gain setting. The tones between 3:00 and 9:00 are wonderfully dirty, but they still clean up with lighter playing. As you turn the dial beyond 10:00, you enter the land of Neil Young and Crazy Horse—instant feedback. and it sounds like your amp is going to explode. There’s gobs of compression, but the bass never falls apart the way it would with a real Tweed Deluxe.

The new design is set up like a Master Volume amp but behaves more like an attenuator. The Volume control adjusts both volume and distortion and then the Master controls the amount of sound hitting your amp. With either of these turned all of the way down, you get no output.

Interaction between Tone and Volume
Just like a real Tweed Deluxe, there is a lot of interaction between the Tone Control and the Volume control. As you increase the Volume control, the Tone control makes less of an impact (especially in Hi Gain mode). But with the Volume lower, turning up the Tone adds extra harmonic complexity, grit, and compression. And of course, the Presence control is there to attenuate some highs (when needed) and to tune the Formula 55 to a mixture of guitars and amps.

Stackability
Like all of the Catalinbread Foundation Overdrives, the Formula 55 was born to stack and it behaves like an amp when doing so. If it’s set relatively clean, hit it with a big boost and get a big jump in volume. When it’s compressed and distorted, hitting it with that same boost just adds to the compression and sustain. I had fun pairing it with a Catalinbread Naga Viper, a Way Huge Green Rhino, and a Catalinbread Belle Epoch—heck yeah it sounds good with delay running into it!

What We Like
The Formula 55 offers a wide range of Tweed-flavored tones in a simple, rock solid, and affordable package. It feels like a real amp and excels and grafting vintage Fender Tweed flavor onto any amp.


Concerns
For straight up Tweed Deluxe emulation (warts and all), the Formula 55 doesn’t quite equal its predecessor. But given the option, I’ll take the added features and functionality of the 55.

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

24 Comments

  1. nyrsfqMax

    topil76n4e buy viagra online legally - online pharmacy viagra - buy viagra online - <a href="http://viagraonlinetop2017.com"> viagra online</a> - viagra for sale online

  2. RalphMip

    cialis one day foglietto illustrativo

    http://cialisxrm.com/

    can i take cozaar and cialis

    buy generic cialis

  3. nmuwztMax

    payday loans az payday loans direct lenders only <a href="http://paydayloans2017.com"> best payday loans</a> legitimate payday loans online no credit check  ace payday loans

  4. valeraaxolf

    cialis headaches

        buy cialis

      buy cialis

      wow)) cialis legal

  5. Moisesaxolf

    cialis viagra salud

        viagra coupons

      viagra coupons

      viagra spray dooz 99000

  6. Moisesaxolf

    viagra generic yet

        viagra

      buy viagra online

      levitra cialis cost viagra

  7. valeraaxolf

    compre cialis en mastercard

        cialis coupon

      cialis for sale

      free samples canada cialis

  8. Moisesaxolf

    does viagra help you get

        viagra online

      buy viagra online

      preco generico viagra

  9. Moisesaxolf

    viagra music

        viagra online

      buy viagra

      viagra kaufen europa

  10. nimxtgMax

    payday loans online same day payday loans direct lender <a href="http://paydayloans2017.com"> payday loans direct lenders only</a> what is a payday loan  payday loan no credit check

  11. Moisesaxolf

    viagra and alternatives to

        viagra

      viagra

      viagra price canadian,

  12. Moisesaxolf

    we choice buy viagra low price

        buy viagra

      viagra coupons

      no prescription order viagra

  13. Soloaxolf

    real fast loans bad credit

        pay day loans

      pay day loans

      cash advance robertsdale al

  14. Ylosaxolf

    viagra vra

        buy viagra

      viagra

      cheap viagra soft tabs uk

  15. Ylosaxolf

    buy herbal viagra canada

        viagra online

      viagra online

      only today official viagra

  16. Ylosaxolf

    cheap viagra 150 mg

        cheap viagra

      buy viagra

      generic viagra for sale usa

  17. Ylosaxolf

    viagra 100mg england

        viagra

      viagra coupons

      100 mg viagra or 50 mg

  18. Ylosaxolf

    cheap viagra capsuls

        viagra

      viagra

      no prescription generic viagra

  19. Ylosaxolf

    preisnachlass viagra pfizer

        buy viagra

      buy viagra online

      kopa viagra utomlands

  20. Cesaraxolf

    wie viel cialis

        online cialis

      buy cialis

      cialis generico in farmacia

  21. Cesaraxolf

    when generic cialis

        cheap cialis

      buy cialis online

      cialis y levitra en venta

  22. Geraldhap

    pharmacy prices
    canadian pharmacy
    overseas pharmacy forum
    prednisone for dogs side effects
    the canadian pharmacy
    herbal viagra

  23. Jkosaxolf

    cialis daily use canada

        cialis

      cialis canada

      cialis soft tabs 10 pills usa

  24. FelipeGript

    canada pharmacies online pharmacy
    http://canadianpharmacyrxbsl.com/
    candrugstore com
    generic cialis 2017
    visit poster’s website
    cialis on line but in the united states