When it comes to types of distortion, tone hounds can sometimes be a bit like Goldilocks. Sure, we’re not intruding into the sylvan abode of a bear family, but we’re certainly tinkering with our pedals until the sound is “just right.” And tinkering is just what the folks at WMD have encouraged with their new Goldilocks Planet distortion pedal. The pedal goes back to the basics of op-amp distortion, yet adds a couple of extra controls for making the tone “just right.”
According to WMD, hard, rather than soft clipping is a feature of solid state-based distortion. Tube-based distortion is “smooth” and “compressed” while solid state op-amp distortion is “crisp and aggressive.” My tests have borne out this claim. Apparently, the Goldilocks Planet’s Density, Tone, and Presence knobs are the additions to the mere Gain and Volume knobs of the vintage circuits. The Presence and Tone knobs essentially play off each other, and allow for a greater range of tonal shades than previously possible. In other words, the sound will be, yes, “just right.”
The Goldilocks Planet offers three distortion modes, each of which can be selected with the small toggle switch on the center of the handsome, matte-blue metal housing. The leftmost setting selects an asymmetrical silicon diode path; the center setting, a console-like distortion; and the rightmost setting a symmetrical path or arrangement of the silicon diodes. Just what exactly the symmetry or lack thereof has to do with producing distortion is above this humble Tone Reporter’s head. Yet I can say that an appreciable difference exists between the different settings. In general, it seemed that the asymmetrical side was a bit more compressed than the right-hand side, as WMD says it will be—and the right-hand side produced a smoother distortion.
The toggle’s middle “Console” setting offers more than I expected. Like a true console, the Goldilocks Planet faithfully relays the signal to the output without any coloration when the knobs are all set around noon. In the moderate Gain settings, the pedal acted as a boost. Adjustments of the Presence, Tone, and Density knobs introduce a variety of equalization effects to the signal. I particularly liked that the Tone circuit seemed to actually boost the low frequencies rather than cut the higher ones. But just like a console, the Goldilocks Planet can also produce crisp, bright distortion when the Gain is set really high.
When I left the control knobs at noon and flipped the toggle to the asymmetrical mode, the signal volume dropped just a bit, but the distortion also seemed to become more intense, especially as the Tone knob’s setting was increased. The distortion was a bit less heavy in the low end, even when the Tone is set back to noon. Actually, I’d say that the asymmetrical distortion lacks the mid-range punch that the Console setting delivers. The symmetrical diode setting (on the right) offers more distortion than the Console setting when the latter’s Gain is pushed high. In testing, it seemed that the higher frequencies were either dampened or cut out by the symmetrical setting’s distortion. Yet the signal still felt full in the mid- and lower-ranges.
As I mentioned, the Presence and Tone knobs play off each other. WMD’s other addition to its pedal’s tone-sculpting tools is the Density knob. This circuit controls a pre-gain high-pass filter, which WMD explains will “control the amount of low frequencies to be overdriven.” And, true to the company’s word, higher Density settings produced a fuller, deeper distortion. Lower Density settings produced a sharper, more focused tone.
If readers in search of that crisp op-amp-style distortion have been searching for the perfect pedal, might I suggest that they consider the Goldilocks Planet? Its wide range of EQ options makes for finding the tone which is “just right” a reality. Give it a shot—it won’t disappoint.
What We Like: Crisp distortion with a great range of EQ options typically not available in simple op-amp style distortion effects.
Concerns: I searched my mind for doubts, yet I found none. It’s a solid pedal.