025 | Electro-Harmonix Soul Food: A Closer Look at this Affordable Overdrive | Transcript

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Scott Schwertly:
Hello, and welcome to episode 25 of the Sonic Renegades podcast. We're exploring Renegade pedals that have changed the music landscape. Today, we've got another fun one from one of our favorite companies. We're going to be talking about the Electro-Harmonix Soul Food. If you love the Klon Centaur and you appreciate its history and legacy, then you're going to love this affordable overdrive pedal.

Hey, everybody. Welcome to episode 25 of the Sonic Renegades podcast, Scott Schwertly, and Eric Wilson here with you guys from Siren Pedals. And today, we're going to be talking about one of our favorite companies and specifically a really cool pedal from this company. And that is the Electro-Harmonix Soul Food Overdrive Pedal. If you're familiar with the history and the legacy behind the infamous Klon Centaur. This is basically the very affordable version of that, which again, we're going to be unpacking in this episode today. So it's a fantastic pedal, super cheap, super great. Definitely, a nice addition if you're wanting to get sort of that Klon Centaur magic on your board.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. I've gotten the chance to play it a little bit yesterday and a little bit this morning, and I've really enjoyed it so far. So I've had a couple of different Klon clones, and it definitely holds up with some of them. So, yeah.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. And that's the beauty of it. I mean, it's, I think you can get it as cheap as about 65 bucks on the street.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah.

Scott Schwertly:
Maybe like $85 somewhere, in certain places. I think I saw one for like 85, 86 on Sweetwater. So yeah, super affordable as compared to its predecessor or the one that inspired it, that being the Klon Centaur, which is in a totally different price category, those can range easily from 1800 to three grand. So quite the difference.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah, for sure. And even, well, even compared to the newer, the KTR, it's still in a different price range because the KTR runs typically... I think it's like 260 or something.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah, it's-

Eric Wilson:
And this is what like 90 new, something like that. [crosstalk 00:02:19]

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. 90 new, 85.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. [crosstalk 00:02:21]

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. Somewhere in that ball range... Yeah, ballpark. So, yeah totally different, difference as far as price categories there. Now, for those of you not familiar with the Klon Centaur. This is basically the main inspiration behind the one that we're talking about today, which is the EHX Soul Food. So this Klon Centaur is famously known because it actually goes all the way back to 1994, where it was created by an individual named Bill Finnegan. And he actually only created 8,000 units over a short period of time. So if you think about from like maybe 1994 to around 2009, there weren't a whole lot of these actually produced. And so bottom line is they're really, really, rare and because they're rare and hard to find they run at an extraordinary price tag. But those that can get their hands on them, absolutely love them. And there are so many famous artists today that who do have them, again, swear by them and think that they're probably the best, overdrive pedal that you can possibly get.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah, I know John Mayer's obviously been known to use one. Mike McCready from Pearl Jam, Chris Walla from Death Cab. And though... I mean, the list goes on and on. And you can see even that list, just the different genres of music that they're playing is so different. So obviously it's usable for people in any genre. I know after he discontinued it in 2009, that's kind of when this whole movement of creating different clones of it and all that kind of picked up. But then Bill Finnegan actually re-introduced the Klon as the Klon KTR in 2014. And so it's actually still available today, so you can pick one up, but they run around $260.

Scott Schwertly:
So definitely a much more affordable option compared to the one before it, I mean, I'd definitely take 260.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. [crosstalk 00:04:08].

Scott Schwertly:
Over three grand any day. So, speaking of that diversity of musicians that you're talking about, Eric, you mentioned already from like John Mayer, to other folks, but kind of on that other opposite of that spectrum, just to kind of again, showcase the diversity of it. You've got people like Joe Perry from Aerosmith, Ed O'Brien from Radiohead. So, Stone Gossard, I think even, Eric, when we were talking about this earlier, even Mike McCready, I think, so both Stone and Mike from Pearl Jam. So totally different worlds, but all fans, obviously of the Klon Centaur and just again, I think what really makes it magical, I think everything I've read about it, I actually have not had the privilege to actually play an original Klon Centaur. But just that sort of transparent overdrive tone that it provides. Eric, have you had a chance to play one yet? I don't know if we actually talked about that?

Eric Wilson:
I have not had the chance to play a real one. I own a Ceriatone Centura, which is obviously a clone. And then I've also owned the J. Rockett Archer, which is also a clone. And actually, from what I've heard, J. Rockett is actually the ones who did the first run of the KTR. So the Archer may be a very close replica, who's to say?

Scott Schwertly:
But then obviously as you can see it, there's a lot of people that, again, swear by this pedal and Eric, as you mentioned earlier back... I think it was again, 2014, with the KTR that sort of brought on all the... Actually, maybe even back to 2009, that began the process of all these clones emerging. One of them being obviously the Soul Food that we're talking about today.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. So I know the Soul Food, it was released in December 2013, kind of showcased at Nam in winter 2014, January there. And it's really been kind of the Klon clone for people who even can't afford the more expensive clones. So like I know the J. Rockett Archer runs about a 160. JHS, had a clone for a while, which he discontinued his as soon as Bill Finnegan, reissued the KTR and the KTR started. So really what the Soul Food has done is that it's kind of served a purpose where people who typically can't afford a Klon or even like a higher-end Klon clone. They're still able to afford this pedal, and still, I get that tone or at least something similar.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. And artists that use it that could actually probably afford something a lot better, but actually choose to use this. It was kind of interesting to see folks like Albert Hammond Jr. actually uses the Soul Food, probably could afford a much better pedal or not to say that this one's bad, but could probably afford one of the higher versions, chooses to use it. Daniel Donato, Cosmic Country, that whole realm. He also has been known to have the Soul Food on his board, which is interesting.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah, I know, I saw Peter Stroud uses it, which he plays for Sheryl Crow. If you're not familiar with him, if you've ever heard of or seen the Elliot Guitars Tonemaster, that's his signature guitar, killer player. And then also this was a odd one. I saw Lee Malia, who's a guitarist for Bringing Me The Horizon. It would have been a band I listened to in high school. I saw that he's been using one of these. And then, I mean, the list kind of goes on. It's a lot of people that I didn't really know who they were, but yeah, there's a laundry list of people who use it probably because it is so affordable.

Scott Schwertly:
Oh yeah, for sure. I mean, it's... if you don't have an overdrive pedal. If you're in the market for an overdrive pedal, or maybe you just have your eye on the Klon Centaur, and you just want to get an idea of what it would be like to have one, this is a perfect pedal to start with, again, as we mentioned, it's super affordable. Yeah. And it really won't break your bank to have that as an option on your board. Now with, any pedal, we always talk about here on the podcast that there isn't like a perfect pedal. So every pedal got flaws and weaknesses. If we had to pinpoint any sort of flaws that we see in this one. I think probably the general consensus out there is that it doesn't scream. So if you're looking for that kind of pedal that will provide sort of those screaming tones, you're not going to get that from this. And then also the trouble could be maybe just a little bit shrill. Other than that, it does overdrive really, really well.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. I know the things that I like about it is obviously like the price, it's super affordable. It gives you a really light boost to a nice crunch. But yeah, like you said, the presence is a lot more pronounced in it than maybe another Klon clone or the actual Klon. But I mean it's small, it's nice and compact which the Klon obviously is not, that thing's huge. So it's a nice, small, compact, really easy with power requirements. You can throw it right on your board, and it's honestly, it's a good build quality. So I throw Electro-Harmonix stuff up there with Boss stuff as far as it's super durable. So I really liked that about it. But yeah, like you said, the highest can be a lot more pronounced than maybe the original Klon, but that's really the only thing I've found in comparing it with the Klon clone that I normally use.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. I mean, it definitely has a lot of positive attributes for sure for its price range. It does a lot in that compact size, which is great. There also, when I've used it in the past, it feels like there's, great headroom, it's aggressive enough, for what you would need on the overdrive front. And I'd love to, I think probably the most notable thing about it, it's just got that nice sort of clean boost quality to it, which is fantastic.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. I know my favorite thing about Klon clones, and like the Klon is the way the mids react. So obviously like when you're looking at like major overdrives, there's like obviously a Tube Screamer, which is very mid present, but then there's also like the Klon and Klon clones that are also very mid presence. So I really liked the way that it kind of... It tightens up your sound in a way, but it doesn't choke it. And so it's still nice, and it's punchy. And, but if you turn the gain knob up, you can get a little more grit, but it's still like, it's all contained without sounding honky, which the more you talk about guitar, the more the words sound a lot more ridiculous.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. It seems like every time you talk about any sort of pedal these days, they all kind of say the same stuff. So I know that's kind of like the running joke with pedals that exist out there, but yeah, they all have their-

Eric Wilson:
Another transparent overdrive. Oh boy.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. Transparent is definitely an overused word; that's for sure. All right. Well, switching gears here, let's actually talk about like what this pedal is, what it does. So it actually has pretty simple controls. We're dealing with three knobs here, volume, drive, and treble, pretty straightforward. Eric, you want to walk everybody through it?

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. So your volume control is going to be well, just that it's going to control your volume. Your gain control is going to take you from almost no gain to where it's just kind of the pedal operating this like a boost up to like a medium-ish gain. And then the treble knob as well, just as you turn it left, it can tame the treble. Or if you need more presence for whatever amp you're using, you can turn it further to the right. So the controls are all... I really haven't found anything that's like unusable on it. So they're really, the controls are really great. You're able to really refine your sound. Really get a good sound, no matter how you're setting it. So really enjoyed the way Electro-Harmonix did the controls on it. I feel like it wasn't too far of a deviation from the typical setup on any Klon clone.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah, definitely. And it just goes back to what we're talking about earlier about this being just a very compact, simple pedal, super affordable. You get pretty close to that Klon magic without breaking the bank, which is a beautiful thing.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. So we're going to play it for you so we can show you a couple of the different sounds probably do just kind of a lighter gain boost kind of thing. And then I'll kind of dime it out and see how much gain I can get out of it. Just to kind of show you the general range of it. And for this one, going to be using the Les Paul through the Strymon Iridium.

Scott Schwertly:
Nice. Nice. All right. Well, we're going to plug all this stuff in, and we'll see you guys on the other side, right.

Eric Wilson:
But that's the Electro-Harmonix Soul Food. It gets you all the good Klon tones at a nice price.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. Not bad at all. Can't really complain about this pedal. So yeah, absolutely love it.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. It's really a great price to get introduced into the, kind of the Klon world, and yeah. Sounds great.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. I mean 60 to 80 bucks for like a name brand overdrive pedal. Yeah. You can't beat it. I mean, obviously, you can get a really, really cheap overdrive pedal, like a Donner pedal or something like that for 30 or 40 bucks, but spend the extra 20, $30 go with EHX get the Soul Food if you're looking, especially- [crosstalk 00:14:15]

Eric Wilson:
Get something in a metal case.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, yeah, definitely a great option for even as you mentioned, Eric, for somebody who's wanting to get into that, Klon world, it's a perfect starting point. So awesome. Well, that's what we wanted to cover for you guys today. That is the Electro-Harmonix Soul Food. Join us next time. We're actually going to talk about one of our very own. We're going to talk about Siren's Airavata Distortion pedal. We love it; it's a fun one. I know it's on my board, Eric, it's on your board. It's replaced a lot of the other distortion pedals that I've had in the past. I sound like I'm self-promoting here, but I love it. It's such a great distortion pedal.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. It's been great for me. I've had like a couple issues. I've always loved the tone of a rap, but I've always had a couple issues with just a couple of the things that go on with it when I'm using it. And the changes we made to the Airavata really, really helped out a lot.

Scott Schwertly:
Oh yeah. It's a fun one for sure. And it does so much and yeah. Excited to be talking about that one in our next episode. So yeah, until then guys have a great day, have a great week and we'll see you next time.

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