It’s not every day that you receive a Harlot in the mail. When that day comes, be ready. The Larry Alan Harlot, born in Lansing, Michigan, is a saucy little drive pedal that can turn any guitar playing session into a torrid affair. Featuring pinup graphics, high quality polyfilm capacitors and metal film resistors, and two knobs, there’s only one thing she wants to do, and that is get down and dirty.
Like you, I have heard, seen, and played many dirt pedals, and I must admit, when I removed the Harlot from its box, I was prepared to be underwhelmed, due my broad dirt experience. Sure, it looks fancy, but what can this Harlot do for me? All of my concerns were immediately laid to rest upon plugging in.
Like a transaction with a lady of the night, this pedal operates in a very straightforward manner. You turn it on and adjust the Level and Gain knobs to taste. It produces everything from clean-ish boosts to thick, saturated drive. And while the boost capabilities are pleasing and will certainly get the job done, you’re going to want to use the dirt this gal gives up. With the Gain at noon, there is already a generous amount of drive. Turning it up yields thick sustain that melds well with other dirt boxes. A clean boost into the Harlot produces an outstanding raunchy solo tone that will sound great in any mix.
It would be wrong to call the Harlot a one-trick pony, but the trick she does best is giving a generous amount of gain and boost to your signal. With single coils, I found myself playing power-punk-style riffage in the vein of The Stooges. With humbuckers, I conjured up burly rhythm tones that chugged along like Thomas the Train’s badass older brother that skipped college because he didn’t care.
The Harlot lends body and fullness to a clean amp and transforms an amp on the edge of breakup into a wild rock and roll machine. Setting the Harlot alone atop of a vintage Marshall-style amp makes for a simple, perfect and powerful pair.
The Harlot is somewhat limited due to its lack of a tone knob or EQ section. You’ll essentially get out of it what you put into it, so that means setting up your amp and other dirt boxes just right so you can optimize your tone. Being a simpleton, I didn’t mind the lack of tone controls—players are only a step away from rocking out.
Larry Alan has produced a very capable drive pedal in the Harlot. Whether you’re after a simple, slightly dirty boost or a rowdy distortion, you’ll either with ease. Sure, it’s less versatile than other options with various knobs and switches, and it’s probably not a be-all end-all drive pedal. In short, the Harlot isn’t going to make you dinner or fold the laundry, but she’ll show you a hell of a good time; each gig will be a night to remember.
What we like: Simple, great sounding dirt box.
Concerns: Not for the knob tweaker on an endless tone quest.