Lunastone’s Three Stage Rocket some of the tastiest overdrive this side of the moon. In fact, I’d even say that this latest pedal, which was designed in collaboration with guitarist Søren Anderson, reminds me of just how great an overdrive pedal can sound when it’s done well. Whether it’s added color, Page-like distortion, or all-out thunder which would rival a Saturn V at liftoff, the Three Stage Rocket covers nearly all the sonic territory a tone hound could ever want.
The Three Stage Rocket’s first two stages comprise two transparent, highly flexible overdrive circuits. Accessing either one is as simple as tapping the OD1-OD2 foot switch after activating the distortion with the Drive foot switch.
The first circuit, OD1, is the more restrained of the two. It’s great for adding a bit of color, for warming up a clean passage with a little bit of an edge. Mid-range settings reminded me of Jimmy Page’s classic semi-clean tone. The effect encouraged a bit of light strumming on open string chords, and really punched up the ringing harmony of those D-form chords farther up the neck that Page put to such good use in songs such as “Over the Hills and Far Away.”
So responsive was the OD1 circuit’s distortion that I didn’t have to bother with turning off the drive during various “delicate” passages I played. All I needed to do was to give a chord a good hard strum and the Three Stage Rocket ignited my tone with long-lasting sustain, and a rich, thick distortion. At the highest drive level, the OD1 circuit provides a smooth, even overdrive which was never noisy or difficult to work with. In fact, the OD1’s distortion was perfect for both Page-style soloing and even basic power chord rock.
Circuit OD2 acts as the second stage of this overdrive rocket. It’s the stage that will send your tone flying to the outer reaches of overdrive. Although it’s louder and more distorted than the first stage, it’s also as nuanced as the OD1 circuit, and just as responsive. OD2 delivers added sustain and heaviness to boot.
Both the OD1 and OD2 circuits delivered the sort of smooth, even distortion which I, personally, think is the most satisfying. Not once was the Three Stage Rocket’s tone muddy or tinny, even when the Tone knob was set for lower or higher frequencies. I loved both circuits, but I have to make special mention of the OD1 circuit, which is simply a great, all-purpose overdrive circuit whose responsiveness leaves many in the dust, back on the launch pad. Anderson and Lunastone have a winner on their hands, and clearly know what’s cooking in the sonic kitchen.
Now, if all of this weren’t enough, the Three Stage Rocket offers a third stage—a boost, which increases the pedal’s volume and the distortion. Lunastone cleverly wired the Boost circuit with a toggle that selects whether the signal will be boosted before or after it passes through the distortion circuit. “Post” Boost intensifies the output as expected: the signal, whether clean or dirty (Boost can be engaged even when the distortion has been bypassed) becomes louder, probably on the order of 10 to 15db. So far, so good. What makes the Boost really cool is that in its “Pre” setting, the overdrive circuit can be driven harder. A harder-driven overdrive is a more distorted overdrive. In other words, a person could play with quiet, single-coil pickups, but essentially boost their output and achieve humbucker-like levels of loudness.
If readers are in the market for a great all-around overdrive pedal, I highly recommend that they consider the Three Stage Rocket. Upon hearing the effect they will undoubtedly be over the moon.
What We Like: Smooth, even distortion with a clever and useful boost which operates before or after the distortion circuits.
Concerns: The model I reviewed had a faulty indicator LED for the OD switch.