Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 116
VG APPROVED GEAR
TONE DEEP DOWN
The Radial Tonebone Hot
British V9 and North-Star
ince the mid '90s, Radial Engineering has been making audio products
with a rep for superb performance and
top-tier construction. Its Tonebone pedal
line has gained exceptional street cred,
finding long-term arrangements on the
pedalboards of some of the baddest cats
in the six-string arena.
The company's Hot British V9 is an updated solidstate version of the Hot British
tube distortion pedal. It's smaller than the
original but has all the ballsy Marshall plexiisms, powers with a 9-volt adapter (instead
of the 15-volt), and no longer has a 12AX7.
The unit's switches and knobs deliver a
cornucopia of tonal settings, its tight work
area is home to Level, Drive, and two postdistortion EQ knobs labeled Low and High.
The Contour knob controls the personality
of the rig from easygoing to outright rude.
The two switches offer three-position
tone-shaping (Dark, Normal, and Bright),
with the second switch offering variations
in Mid Boost.
The unit also contains a Class A buffering
circuit to drive longer cables and maintain
tonal integrity. It's small yet heavier than
most pedals, but it unleashes a wide variety
of heavy-duty distorted sounds. Played
through a Fender blackface combo you have
your pick of everything from gritty Chicago
blues to a London street riot with goo-gobs of
cantankerous crunch and daylong sustain.
A relatively quiet pedal, the V9's swarm
of controls also presents the option of mixslicing top-end with thickness or lower-gain
midrange chunk. It's a versatile pedal with
the potential for violence, but its strength
lies in its portability and willingness to
help you get what you need out of mystery
backlines. In other words, it's a great traveling companion.
Another Tonebone offering is the NorthStar Overdrive, marketed to country guitarists with a rock-and-roll edge. A two-in-one
pedal, the North-Star delivers articulate
overdrive as well as 24dBs of clean boost to
push a clean amp to the outskirts of chunky
oomph. Tough and compact like the Hot
British, the North-Star has a user-friendly
Price: $169.99 (each)
interface that allows you to jump right in
and get going with Level, Tone, and a Drive
knob, and a three-way Range switch (Low,
Normal, and High) to finetune EQ.
Max the Drive knob, and you're instantly
aware that the North-Star is made for rock
guys who work in the cleaner end of the
sonic spectrum. Also perfect for country
players who require beaucoup articulation,
clarity, and zero mud, this pedal works great
when stacked with other overdrives. It'll also
push a dirty amp for some righteous solos
without messing up your tone. Its clean
responsiveness shines with a Telecaster and
propels you to kick out your best double-stop
twang and cluck.
The Boost side is a thing of beauty, offering
the absolute correct amount of robust gain
without being an overdrive. The North-Star
also comes with Send and Return inputs
that engage when the Boost is on, allowing
you to add time-based effects along with
From diabolical distortion to semibreakup, Radial Tonebone's Hot British
and the North-Star stomp boxes provide
the teeth that give your music bark some
bite. - Oscar Jordan