Pro Tone Pedals makes pedals for metal. It’s not just fun to say, it’s the truth. Sure, you could use them for anything, and hell if anyone can stop you, but it’s pretty clear where their loyalties lie. With signature pedals for Keith Merrow, all of Ministry, and 1/3 of Periphery, these handmade stompers are intended for chug, shred, djent, doom, grind, core, crunch, jud jud, squeal, and tap tap tappy.
So when Pro Tone sent me the Dead Horse overdrive for review I was happy to do some of those things through it. I set my favorite tone on my AxeFx II (Angle Severe, AKA Engl Savage clone), thinking it couldn’t possibly be improved. But the pedal makes everything somehow more…. metallic. You can hear in the A/B portion of the video how it tightens up the tone and gives it a mean crunch. The tone knob is the star here. Turning it to the right makes your tone more aggressive, and to the left it makes it more doomy. So basically you can use it for any style of metal or rock, and you just use that tone knob to find your personal level of aggression or doominess, depending on your taste and the kind of amp you’re going through. Your amp might be too bright to crank the tone, in which case you probably won’t want to have it up too high. For me, I like it all the way to the right. It makes the guitars real sit in their place in the mix and makes leads cut.
Of course sometimes I like my leads really smoothed out, especially if I’m using the bridge pickup, so if I was using it in my live rig I might be inclined to have the tone more towards the left and with the volume and drive up a bit. I got some really excellent results doing this in front of my Blackstar HT-20 tube combo, which also reacted nicely to the pedal. Rather than switching pickups and channels, I was able to just step on the pedal to get a nice tonal change that was perfect for solos. Of course, I’d really like to have one for each, but that would involve additional dancing.
Another cool use I found was as a reverse boost. Take the Dead Horse‘s volume down a bit for a lower gain rhythm setting, then set your amp for a higher gain lead setting, and switch the pedal OFF for solos. Seems a little counterintuitive, but I thought it was kind of a creative usage for on overdrive – an underdrive, if you will.
The drive on the pedal was also very usable and, although it won’t give you a really hairy distortion, it’s plenty for a singing lead and adding grit and sustain to your clean tone. It’s also easily one of the most metal looking pedals on the market, with a sort of Giger-esque robo-horse head that has a diode switch for an eye.
Speaking of the diode switch, you may wonder what it’s for. Instead of trying to explain it myself, I’ll let Dennis from Pro Tone tell you in this video PSA. Once you watch it, you’ll realize why I didn’t bother messing with it for the heavy rhythm parts.
This isn’t your grandpa’s green screamie. It’s more biting, and made for aggressive music. The Dead Horse is also true bypass, and made entirely by hand in the US. So if you want a Tube Screamer-style pedal but also want to show the emperor you’re not afraid, head over to the Pro Tone website and order one direct from the manufacturer.