Apparently, there’s a new guy who’s been hanging around the bar lately. He calls himself the Wise Guy, and he’s made by Lunastone of Denmark. He’s not gonna tell you where you’ll find Jimmy Hoffa. He’s not gonna tell you who ordered the hit on JFK. He’s not a rat. Maybe most interesting of all is the fact that he’ll deliver the gamut of true-to-life, tube-like overdrive tones—but you gotta approach him the right way.
Lunastone’s Wise Guy pedal offers a bit more than meets the eye. Underneath its hard-as-nails, marinara-red housing is a special circuit. Although the circuit takes inspiration from the JRC4558D op-amp, Lunastone totally redesigned the circuit for its own purposes. So, instead of the typical clipping diodes which some pedals use to produce distortion, the Wise Guy relies instead upon “cascading gain stages” in the way that a genuine tube amplifier would. Essentially, the Wise Guy’s circuitry more accurately mimics the circuitry of a real tube amp. The result: an extremely tube-like overdrive, complete with fantastic breakup, rich harmonics, and signature equalization. Most people will never know the difference between the tone of a Wise Guy and a tube amp.
By the way, did I mention that the housing is tough as tough can be? It’s not gonna crack, even during the harshest RICO indictment. Like I said, the Wise Guy’s not a rat.
There is one way to get the Wise Guy to flip on you—but I don’t mean he’ll go to the Feds. No way. He’s more like a gentleman who knows when it’s best to be subtle and best to be, how shall I say, a little “forceful.” Switching between overdrive circuits one and two requires a mere flip of the Wise Guy’s ultra-cool toggle switch.
Anyhow, the Wise Guy’s first overdrive circuit produces a restrained, mid-heavy distortion that’s best for when you need to straighten up a guy just a little. Maybe he fell behind on his payments a week, or maybe he’s just not showing the proper respect—nothing too serious. Circuit one’s distortion is great for a bit of bluesy crunch or for a bit of color. On the high end you’ll get some nice breakup and some good sustain, but it’s not gonna be a full-out rocker. There’s no need for that here. The Wise Guy knows when to hold back. It’s how he’s gotten this far in life.
But if you flip his toggle to circuit two—oh boy, watch out. You flip the Wise Guy’s toggle to circuit two when you know there’s a rat. Not only is the second circuit’s distortion louder, it’s also going to provide more sustain; you flip the Wise Guy’s toggle and you’re probably gonna end up at the bottom of a river.
Despite the Wise Guy’s emphasis on mids, I’d say that he delivers a “darker” overdrive in each of its circuits, especially when the Tone knob is set to noon. It’s a distinct, classic tone that reminds me of my Vox amp when I push the tubes pretty hard. It’s not honky, but it is a bit compressed and more focused in the mid-range than other pedals. Turning up the Tone adds a bit of air to the overall sound, but it’s not going to become hissy or shrill. No way. He always tells a good story in dulcet tones.
The Wise Guy also features a helpful Boost circuit, which adds up to an additional 15 decibels to the signal. To be sure, the Wise Guy is already a fairly loud pedal, even without the boost. But he’s not gonna go around leaking static and noise about the operation. No way.
So, that’s the lowdown on the Wise Guy. I recommend him, but only if you’re not a rat.
What We Like: Exceptionally tube-like distortion; a useful Boost circuit; two overdrive circuits; it’s not a rat.
Concerns: My only concern is for you, my friend. You’d better not be a rat. And if you are, you’d better stay away from the Wise Guy, or else you’ll disappear.