British Steel with American Feel
Like all ThorpyFX reviews, this one is going to start with the build, aesthetic and functional prowess immediately apparent upon unboxing. Stainless steel laser-etched enclosure: check. Recessed knobs for setting savings: check. Side screws for flush board attachment: check. It’s just as good under the hood—top shelf WIMA and Panasonic caps: check, Burr-Brown Op-amp and Neutrik jacks: check and check, ready to engage and dispatch a dirty deluge of wanton destruction. This is all above-standard uniform for Britain’s fastest-rising boutique builder, but unlike the equally amazing Gunshot with its distinctly British tone, The Warthog rests firmly in the American boot camp of tonal thunder.
The control set reads familiar with the standard fare of Volume, Gain and Tone on tap. Of course, the range of these controls is anything but standard fare in that they have been tuned for maximal versatility, with minimal head scratching and virtually no un-sweet spots. The Tone control is at first counterintuitive; as it is turned clockwise the highs roll off which is great for shaving off brittle frequencies off overly bright amps. Speaking of amps, the ThorpyFX unique Calibre control does something really special as it is pushed forward—a squidgy hairnet of loosey-goosey grit is introduced into the equation. To my ears, this is akin to the voltage sag on a cooking tube-rectified amp on the verge of meltdown. The filthy opening riff to ZZ Top’s comeback single “I Gotsta Get Paid” comes to mind, but The Warthog isn’t all about full-fat filth and red-eyed rage, it can get downright Visine clean and act as a semi-transparent boost as well.
The Duality of the Jungian Dirt Box
Like The Peacekeeper that shipped with today’s subject in review, I put the Warthog through its paces starting from both clean and edge-of-breakup jumping off points. With all the controls set to noon, The Warthog is an American dream of distorted grandeur. No nasally, congested undefined muck here, just corpulent sinewy gobs of gristly-yet-articulate breakup. The overall ever-present tonal signature is slightly scooped in the mids, which is no surprise given the design spec. In fact, at lower Gain settings with the Calibre control backed off, The Warthog exuded an airy high end and tubby-yet tight bottom that was downright Fender-ish in nature. Turning the pedal on and off with these settings showed subtle difference almost like my old Hot Cake, although there was way more high end on tap with the Tone wound back. This helped clear the smoke of my Orange amp’s somewhat-bleary highs, injecting a welcome bit of clarity and sparkle into the mix.
Moving from Yin to Yang, I set the amp to a damn near clinically boring sterile clean tone and dimed the Gain and Calibre controls to see what this armored beast was capable of as its own sole source of distortion. The beautiful cacophony could only be described as a 6L6-powered high-gain tube amp in full meltdown. Think dimed Soldano with a bit of Muff fuzz thrown in for good measure. Crushing cascades of distortion bliss bore down like a Niagara Falls of filth.
What We Like
This bad boy sports peerless real-deal mil-spec construction and pure American distortion destruction coupled with the ability to go covert and act as a semi-clean booster to boot. I love the Cobain-esque Sonic Blue enclosure and chicken-head-red control knobs as well, which is an indicator of the American high gain tones on tap. I must also mention that the Peacekeeper sounds unreal either goosing in front of the Warthog or boosting it down the line. A killer duo.