Out of the several different effects pedal brands out there right now, few of them are as unique in name as they are in the tone that they deliver. Sure, you have your BOSS, MXR and Electro Harmonix variety of pedals that are great staples in the effects industry, but what if you want something a little … different? How about something with a delicious name? Well, that latter one might not be on everyone’s list but regardless, that’s what you’re getting if it’s a Way Huge effects pedal. Those of you familiar with many of my reviews will know that I have a certain soft spot for the Way Huge brand, specifically their tongue-in-cheek approach to naming their stomp boxes along with their outstanding tones.
Back in the early ‘90s, Way Huge was an independent company known as a “boutique” dealer of effects pedals which basically meant that they made less of them and charged more because of it. A lot less of them actually, as by the time the company shut down production in the late ‘90s, anyone lucky enough to even have the chance to buy a Way Huge pedal would have to do so at a hefty premium. Plenty of stories went around the music forums about these rare, unique pedals, the awesome tones they delivered and the gargantuan price it took to own them. Luckily for us, in 2008 Jim Dunlop bought the company and has now resurrected the line, keeping the pedals as precise as the originals but with a few modern improvements on select models. What this means for us is superb tones at a much, MUCH more reasonable price. So far, we have reviewed four out of the five re-releases Dunlop has given us, so now, to top off the collection, we bring you the review of their Pork Loin Soft-Clip Injection Overdrive. In case you want to check out the rest of the pack, just hit the links below.
The Features of the Way Huge Pork Loin Overdrive Pedal
The first thing that I hear when players try out any of the Way Huge line of pedals is just how downright versatile they are and the Pork Loin is no different. Sure, we all know by now that a guitar’s tone has just as much to do with the effects and amp settings as it does with the way the instrument is played but as long as you have your technique down, the Pork Loin has a lot to offer. I’m positive you will find the several different attainable rock tones in this pedal worth its purchase. As an overdrive pedal, the main job of the Pork Loin is to infuse just the right amount of grit to your sound. A bit dirtier than a fuzz effect but nowhere near as crunchy as distortion, overdrive was first achieved by overloading the gain on traditional valve/tube amplifiers and quickly became a staple of ‘60s rock and blues. The reason I bring this up is because traditionally, the best way to get a warm, natural and harmonic overdrive was with through the use of one a valve/tube amplifier which is why I was so impressed with the similar results achieved through the Pork Loin and a modest solid state amp. Even switching it over from my humbucker equipped Les Paul to a single coil Strat yielded pretty consistent results – which might be a problem for those who just have to have the natural tone of their preferred guitar shine through. Also, fans out there of that vintage “classic” overdrive sound might not like the original overall sound of this pedal, but for those of you who do want to mess around with a variety of less traditional – but all in all great sounding – overdrive tones, the Pork Loin delivers!
First of all, much of the tonal variations afforded by the Pork Loin come from its unique build; it is essentially an overdrive and a booster pedal all in one, making it the perfect choice for those out there who love the sound of cleanblend overdrive. But before we take a look at some of the more interesting applications of the pedal, let’s check out how exactly what knobs we have to control this loin. There are eight different controls on the Pork Loin which includes four internal trim pots for added versatility, although the bulk of the tones created will be done through outside knobs. The Volume knob controls the output of the signal while the Overdrive knob lets you dial in the right amount of overdrive intensity – give it a little for a tiny bit of smooth fuzz or full blast for some thick grit. The Clean knob is probably the control most responsible for much of the Pork Loin’s versatility since there are a few neat little tricks you can apply with it. You can blend in clean tones with your selected amount of overdrive – obviously – and although there are plenty of tones available from just mixing these two controls to different levels, you can get a great clean and compressed boosted signal by switching the Overdrive completely off and giving the pedal a significant level of Clean – perfect for sending you amp or preamp into natural overdrive, especially for those lucky enough to own a quality tube/valve amplifier! The Curve control is more for fine tuning than anything else as it lets you manage the corner frequencies of the overdrive.
While the internal trim pot controls can change the overall tone of the pedal, they are more of the set-and-forget variety that most people won’t bother changing after their initial setup – which I’m sure is why Way Huge decided to make them internal. The Filter knob adjusts the clean preamp tonal spectrum, the Voice knob controls the mid frequencies of the clean, Presence tweaks the high end on the overdrive and finally, the Drive Mix controls the mix of the overdrive (setting it all the way down gives you tones from its British preamp circuitry with no overdrive effect). All in all these controls are meant more for individual needs than to offer different tonal effects. The Voice knob for example should be set so that the mid frequencies of the pedal don’t overpower your vocals, which also resides in that all important mid range. Anyways, set these to your needs and you’re done.
Just like the rest of the Way Huge line of pedals, the Pork Loin is a truly versatile pedal with enough settings to quickly jam around with plenty of different overdrive tones along with a few important internal knobs that customize to a player’s individual preferences making this little gadget feel as if it were built especially for you, but that’s not to say it’s for just about anyone. Those of you out there who don’t necessarily like the sound of cleanblend overdrive will probably still not be won over with the Pork Loin, regardless of how well it can produce natural and smooth overdrive, but for players out there with a bit more of an open mind on this particular effect will love its versatility. All in all, for less than $170, the Way Huge Pork Loin overdrive is worth every penny!