Menatone’s been on my radar for quite some time, since my neighborhood guitar store, Willie’s American Guitars, stock the whole line. At once time I had the amazing Kar Krash, whose fast touch and feel still form quite an impression in my mind. Let’s see how Foxy Brown is.
What It Is
It’s a low- to mid-gain overdrive pedal styled after Marshall 18-watter amps. The 18 watts are very different tonally from other sounds you’d think of when you think of “Marshall” — like the upper-mid kerrang of JCM 800s, for example. It’s a tone that has much more in common with tweed-era Fenders.
Foxy Brown has gain and volume knobs. There’s a lot of volume on tap, so if you goose up the gain you’d have to turn down the volume. The tone knob is interesting — at noon it’s unity, then when you turn it counter-clockwise it adds bass, when you turn it up it adds treble. So it doesn’t get darker when you turn it down, it just gets fatter. Very nice.
The sag knob is interesting. The more you turn it up, the more the note attack gets “squashed” or develops a tube-amp-like “sag.” This is a pretty subtle effect and at first I couldn’t really detect it. It’s more obvious the more gain you have, and if you use Foxy Brown to drive another ovedrive/distortion or an amp’s overdrive, then it is more apparent. It’s there even when Foxy Brown is the only pedal supplying dirt, but its gain is not enough to really make a pronounced effect on its own.
How It Sounds
Right off the bat, what’s impressive about it is that it perfectly preserves the guitar’s dynamics. Or should I say — the touch and feel of the guitar is completely unaffected. You can turn it on, and the feel doesn’t change a single bit, even when the gain is cranked. It gets loud when you hit it hard, and gets soft when you hit the strings lightly. Just like plugging into a clean amp, but this doesn’t happen often with guitar pedals. Very nice.
The overdrive character is expectedly jangly. It’s not super tight, you can’t really do hard rock with this. It’s better suited for strumming, but with attitude. Because the tone knob really doesn’t really roll off the highs, the tone doen’t really mellow out — it gets fatter when the tone knob’s rolled off but it stays raspy in top range. When you crank the gain it gets fairly distorted, but the character of the overdrive stays the same, but at the highest settings (3 o’clock and up) single notes develop this rubbery/synthy feel that sounds unnatural for an electric guitar. Couple that with the fact that it has zero compression, and you get a pedal that’s really unsuited for high-gain single-note leads.
If you’re looking for a real amp-like low-gainer with attitude or mid-gain rhythm guitar pedal, this is a great pedal to consider. Its touch-sensitivity/volume-knob clean-up is as good as a real tube amp, and its built-in sag makes it feel like one, too. If you want to play single-note leads on it you may want to compress or stack with another, more sustaining pedal, however. I think it’s another one of those pedals with unique feel/feature, where if that’s not what you’re looking for you may not “get” it, but if it does meet your need, it’ll be an indispensable tool in your arsenal.