The Point: A Great low gain overdrive that plays like butter
The Damage: $135
I’d be willing to wager a fair amount that if CMAT Mods pedals had flashier exteriors, they would sell a bunch more. The Butah low gain overdrive is one example in their lineup that is plain on the outside but sounds damn good, going from smooth to gritty with ease, and doesn’t cost a lot.
Simple but effective
The Butah is very simple to use, with just tone, gain, and level controls. Nothing fancy here, but it is true bypass and made with top quality parts. One beef I tend to have with dirt pedals is their excessive amount of volume, which can lead to unnecessary noise. It’s not much of an issue for live/bar players, but for the home/studio user, it can be a problem. Some dirt pedals have too much, where unity is almost in the counter clockwise position. And a slight adjustment up tends to jump too quickly.
Not so with the Butah. In fact, I was surprised to find myself turning the volume up all the way and adjusting the gain accordingly. Oddly I decided to take a look at the manual (who reads a manual for a pedal with three controls, am I right?) and this is one recommendation for setting this pedal. Max the volume, then turn up the gain to what sounds good to you. It doesn’t have a lot of gain; it’s not supposed to. But what it has is surprisingly versatile. It reminded me of the added grit you hear from old classic tube amps.
Of course it depends on how you set your amp, too. Is your amp set clean, slightly dirty, or set full on distorted? The Butah can give you a nice clean boost, or it can push a slightly dirty amp into more saturation. A heavier driven amp with the gain turned up on the Butah will give you heavier tones.
Boost or light crunch, your choice
As mentioned, the Butah doesn’t have a ton of volume, especially if your amp is set clean and you’re using single coil pickups. I found I liked to crank the volume all the way and gain at noon to get a nice fairly clean boost. It adds a really sweet presence to your tone. Adjust the tone control if you need more or less treble, but what I really enjoyed about the Butah is that my low end stayed intact and my mids weren’t boosted. I especially liked this when using an amp like a Vox AC15/30 that has a fair amount of mids on its own. You might say the Butah is the polar opposite of a tube screamer, which for some folks is a great thing.
Once the gain is past noon you start adding some grittier tones to a light crunch. With the gain maxed you get an organic sounding crunch. It depends somewhat on your pickups, but you aren’t likely to get a heavier crunch with this pedal, and that’s not its purpose. CMAT Mods has other pedals for that.
The Butah is one of those easily overlooked pedals on the market. There are a ton of overdrive pedals to choose from these days. But not that many excel at being just a low gain overdrive, for those players that want some nice added crunch or just a nice shimmering boost without mucking up your clean tone. You might very well find that you’ll want to keep the Butah on all the time and just ride your guitar’s volume control. The Butah is a bargain pedal with great usable tones and hand-constructed in the USA at a very reasonable price. You won’t be disappointed.