In the last few months we’ve reviewed two excellent updates on that perennial favorite, the Tone Bender MKII. Brazil’s Deep Trip returns to the market via the road less taken, bringing us its take on the Tone Bender MKI, but delivering much more.
Literally right out of the box, the Kryptone nailed those wonderful Mick Ronson tones from Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars. This was with the Bias setting at about 3:00, Fuzz and Lows controls wide open, and with a healthy dose of Highs. Leaving the Lows open (this control is a high-pass filter, so you can use it to clean up your low end), setting Highs (cut and boost) to taste and rolling the Bias back to about noon gets you spot-on MKII tones, delivering that pedal’s marriage of super-thick low end and onset of square-wave clipping. From here, you can easily get the slightly more refined tones of the MKIII.
Moving back toward 7:00 on the Bias knob as you roll off the Lows will start edging you towards those original Fuzz-Tone, uh, tones. Similarly, playing with the bias and judicious EQ-ing can get you into Fuzz Face territory. Somewhere in the midst of all this you can find the more nasal, biting tones of the Italian-made Vox Tone Bender.
I’m not a germanium purist, and my refusal to bow to orthodoxy is rewarded by the silicon-based Kryptone. There’s great volume knob clean up and amazing depth of tone, as you’d expect from germanium, but you also get gobs of output, reliable pedal response, trouble-free wah stacking, and freedom from batteries.
The Highs control never gets ice pick-y; it just adds presence and attack. The range of the Lows knob is wonderfully broad, and I got those aforementioned Ronson tones using a single coil bridge pick up—a slight twist of the dials yielded the same effect with Ronno’s preferred humbuckers. And despite the rich, monstrous fuzz on tap, string-to-string separation is excellent; with the Fuzz dialed back to noon (or lower), you could have a fantastic overdrive.
What we like: The versatility. Ostensibly based on the Tone Bender MKI, itself an update on the Maestro Fuzz-Tone (I think), the Kryptone dips its toes in that primordial fuzz well, but stretches its legs well into Tone Bender MKIII territory with its well-implemented tone (Highs and Lows) and bias controls.
Concerns: Man, this thing is big. And the design is kinda busy. Do you really care?
Tone: Girth. Depth. Teeth. Everything you want from a Tone Bender—every Tone Bender—is here.
Build quality: The form factor makes me crazy. That said, the pedal certainly feels solid, and at least it’s not modeled after the original housing.
Value: Fantastic versatility, but it’s not cheap. If you just want a MKII, MKIII or Fuzz-Tone, you could find a clone or update that sounds as good (or, in some cases, worse) for less, but the tweakability is tough to ignore.
Overall rating: Simply put, this is like the Tone Bender mothership. It’s not cheap, and it’s not small but it’s damned good. If you love fuzz, this is a Trip you ought to take.