Street price: $80
Small footprint effect pedals have been quite the rage lately. Products from such manufacturers as Lovepedal, Malekko and Mooer have been continually appearing on pedalboards and proving “size doesn’t matter” when it comes to tone. Hotone Audio debuted several new micro pedals at this year’s NAMM show. Manufactured in China, these stompboxes include advancements that make miniature pedals more user friendly beyond their size alone.
Their Skyline series pedals each have a durable zinc alloy outer cover. The design of the top knobs makes your settings easily identifiable, and a metal rod across the surface keeps your foot from moving the knobs. Included with each pedal are custom-fit bottom adhesives. There are a variety of effects in the series, including a looper, tuner, delay, octaver, tremolo and more.
We checked out the Grass overdrive, which features volume, voice and gain controls, plus an on/off bright switch. I presumed it to be a Tube Screamer-style overdrive, but Hotone claims this pedal takes inspiration from Dumble characteristics, so I thought it might have a few tricks up its sleeve. Sure enough, though its gain stage is similar to a Tube Screamer, the Grass is much more than a small-scale clone. With the gain cranked, the Grass is thick and rich – and when set to 0, there is absolutely no distortion, and you can use the volume and voice knobs to tailor a transparent clean boost.
My favorite setting is volume at 3:00, voice at 9:00, gain about 3, and bright switch engaged. With a clean amp, it gets you into Chuck Berry territory, and in front of distortion, it preserves the original tone while injecting some familiar mid-range grind, without taking out most of your low end.
Like most of Hotone’s other Skyline pedals, the Grass is priced at $80 street. If you’re looking for big tone on a small scale, these micro machines are definitely worth checking out!