You don't get Lovepedal famous in the highly varied gear industry without justification. With a history of offering a serious menagerie of effects from the subtle to the in-your-face and a certain mystique as to what special pedal might be up for grabs next, Sean at Lovepedal has a way of turning the merely curious into the seriously devoted. That doesn't happen by accident, either; Lovepedal's products are made with high-quality parts and just generally sound great. This particular pedal, the Hi Volt Custom 1, takes the concept of hard-driven JFETs and goes to town with it. For the not so electrically inclined, JFETS are a type of transistor that behave in a surprisingly tube-like fashion when pushed past their nominal range – they're about as close in behavior to a clipping preamp tube as you can get, and they're found in some of the greatest pedals on the market!
How Hi is the Volt, exactly?
Running off of a standard 9V battery or common supply (make sure your polarity is correct, of course!), the Hi Volt Custom 1 uses a type of circuit known as a "charge pump" to bump the internal voltage up to 16V, raising its headroom substantially and giving you all the more room to play with the sound. Versatility is the name of the game, and as the pedal's title playfully calls back to, a high voltage ceiling gives you more range of adjustment to find your tone in this uncommonly capable pedal.
What's to Love about this Pedal?
A lot, as it turns out! It has an extremely wide range of usable gain thanks to its design, and you can get convincing tones from whichever flavor of crunch tickles your fancy – while it is not explicitly an "amp in a box" style pedal, nevertheless you'll be able to use its tone shaping capabilities and panoramic-wide gain range to call forth just about any sort of distorted tone you can imagine.
I'd be totally remiss if I didn't spend a little time talking about its tone shaping, by the way: it uses a three-band active EQ, which means you can either cut or boost the conventional Low, Mid, and High frequency bands. They are each well-selected to maximize the pedal's versatility, and getting to know how the EQ works on this pedal will be an extremely rewarding experience. Get the Low, Mid, and High just right and lower the gain – or your guitar's volume, the benefit of voltage headroom – and it recalls classic Marshall tones. Change it all around and you're hearing Mesa-like distortion. And that's not some limited continuum, either; learn it well and you won't be stuck with sounding like just this or that, you'll have a ton of great sounds on your tonal plate.
Lovepedal is generally well respected for construction quality, and this pedal is no exception, with smart choices made in every area. Players will find themselves at perfect ease gigging this very ruggedly built pedal. Perhaps the best part is that it delivers all of the above in a sturdy package with minimal space requirements – it'll fit on your board, even assuming it doesn't make room for itself by making some other distortion pedals redundant.
What We Like: This is a fantastic, versatile pedal with a huge range of sounds, built to last, and priced well within market expectations for something as capable as it is. Plug in, crank up, rock out.
Tone: Which tones? There are a ton of 'em! The active EQ and huge range of gain ensures that you'll be able to get AT LEAST one incredible tone out of it no matter how esoteric your personal setup. I'd wager far more than that.
Build Quality: From the enclosure to the jacks, pots, and switches all the way to the PCB this is a quality unit. I have zero concerns about reliability. It even has a recessed, but still clearly visible, LED, a consideration not commonly found on pedals these days but which highlights the extent to which all efforts have been made to ensure durability.
Value: With this much range, the price is totally in line with industry standards – even though the construction quality and versatility put its worth a bit higher than your average similarly priced pedal.
Overall : Nailing a huge range of great tones and using design techniques that push it forward in the ever-rollicking distortion pedal "arms race," Lovepedal has managed to put out a pedal that I feel is worthy of just about any guitarist's attention.