I was excited to get my hands on the DOD Boneshaker for one important reason: The collaboration of DOD and Mark Wentz of Black Arts Toneworks, who designed the circuitry. Black Arts, if you don’t known by now, makes some of the very best fuzz and distortion boxes around, with its Pharaoh fuzz being one of my all-time personal favorites.
Initially, I was expecting the Boneshaker to be along the lines of a very high-gain distortion. It can be, but the Boneshaker straddles the line between a medium-gain overdrive and distortion (and at times, even fuzz). A few things account for this wide range, with the EQ making the biggest impact. Unlike some dirt boxes that might have a single tone control, the Boneshaker features a stacked three-band parametric EQ. The pedal gives two dials each for bass, midrange and treble. This really helps to match guitars and amps to this pedal, as well as giving a wide tonal palette to be creative.
Within a few minutes, I found I was getting a really cool Josh Homme-type tone from his Kyuss days, which led me to the next revelation of this pedal—it loves downtuned guitars and even bass. In addition to the parametric EQ, the Boneshaker also sports a Depth control, which filters the amount of bass that enters the circuit. It doesn’t make as much of an impact if you’re using a Stratocaster, but using a guitar with lower tunings (my favorite was a PRS in drop C) it really adds a thicker, heavier punch. I suspect bass players will find this very helpful and satisfying as well.
The other controls—Level and Distortion—are functionally obvious, but the amount of distortion is really impacted by the types of pickups being used. For example, my relatively low-powered Stratocaster pickups, tuned to standard, make the Boneshaker feel more like an overdrive, even with the Distortion level set fairly high. Conversely, the high-powered pickups in my PRS make the Boneshaker feel like a much very heavier distortion, bordering on fuzz. And like the Black Arts Pharaoh, the Boneshaker has one more trick up its sleeve—it loves stacking. I tried using an overdrive and a boost pedal running into the Boneshaker, with very satisfying, heavy-gain crunch from any pickup combination.
Lastly, the Boneshaker works really well with the Distortion set lower and running into an already-overdriven amp. It just makes the amp a little thicker, a little heavier, and a little meaner. Depending how the EQ is shaped, the Boneshaker can be somewhat transparent, or it can really color the amp—your choice.
What We Like: Versatility. On its own, I liked the Boneshaker best with downtuned guitars and higher-output pickups. However, stacking it with a boost, overdrive or even another fuzz, and the Boneshaker really comes alive in any situation. With the Distortion dialed back, it works well with an overdriven amp. Having a three-band parametric EQ for finding your unique tone is just the icing on the cake.
Concerns: With the Distortion turned up past 3 o’clock, it gets pretty noisy. Depth control seemed marginally effective with some guitars.