I DREAM OF AND LIVE FOR GREAT GUITAR TONE
My name is Steen, I live in Copenhagen, Denmark, and I am the founder of LunaStone. First of all, I am a passionate guitarist, but I am also an engineer and something of a dreamer who constantly pursues divine guitar tone.
Decades of gigging and studio sessions taught me an important lesson: Nothing takes my focus off the music like poor sound. And even more importantly, it affects how I play. Eventually, this made me obsessed with the idea of creating the perfect overdrive pedal.
I want loads of transparency and sustain when I kick in a drive pedal. I want to hear my beloved amp and the nuances of my guitar, even at various pickup settings, through the drive. From subtle crunch to high gain, I want to be able to hear me. Because that is when I play my absolute best!
Therefore, I decided to start from scratch. I isolated every single component, played, listened, tuned and tweaked until I knew exactly how different transistors like JFETs, MOSFETs, BJTs, and a handful of classic op-amps and diodes, amplified and colored my guitar tone. Based on these intensive experiments and thorough listening sessions, I came up with a brand new design that I call TrueOverDrive™.
The most fundamental finding I made was that diode-clipping is not the answer when your goal is to create the ultimate overdrive tone. Interestingly, though, the vast majority of drive pedals are based on diode-clipping, so this is truly a major leap away from traditional designs.
In essence, My TrueOverDrive approach is based strictly on cascaded gain stages all the way from input to output. This way, it sounds and feels like a real tube amp overdriving the signal. The dynamics are similar to what you get from cranked tubes, and I can control so many tonal nuances with nothing but my fingers and the volume knob on my guitar. And most important of all, I can keep my sole focus on playing the music that I love.
But please don’t take my word for it – try it out for yourself. And have fun playing the music that you love. Because that is what it all boils down to and what drives me and my team more than anything – the love for creating, playing and living music!
Steen Grøntved – Founder of LunaStone
What is TrueOverDrive™?
There are basically three terminologies that are used to describe distorting guitar effects: distortion, fuzz, and overdrive. Over the years, these names have been mixed together.
For most manufacturers, categorizing is more a matter of taste and what they think a particular pedal sounds like rather than the actual physical differences in the electronic circuits. Essentially, ‘distortion’ covers everything that distorts a signal, whereas ‘overdrive’ relates to overdriving amp circuits, pushing a signal on the input of the amp that is hotter than what the amp is designed to cope with.
Today, most distortion and overdrive guitar effects on the market use clipping diodes to create the distorting effect of the guitar signal. Our TrueOverDrive™ pedals, Wise Guy, Big Fella and Three Stage Rocket, use a technique that have no clipping diodes in the signal chain at all. The overdrive comes exclusively from cascading gain stages, much like in a real tube amplifier. The result is a very transparent and tube-like sound with lots of sustain and body. The reactions we have received from many guitar players, who have tried our pedals, is that they sound like a hot-rodded Fender amp or a Marshall Plexi Head driven hard.
Wise Guy, Big Fella and TSR Differences
Although these pedals are ‘siblings’, they differ greatly in terms of overdrive character and in how they shape your tone. The Wise Guy has a mid-focused voice resembling very classic overdrive sound as you known from the 60’s-70’s, but with a lot more gain under the hood.
The Big Fella has a huge low-end and a thick body combined with a massively smooth and a transparent drive. The Three Stage Rocket is basically the Big Fella on steroids, but with more control flexibility, as well as the option to use the boost circuit to feed the overdrive for even more gain.
All pedals have plenty of gain, tons of sustain and deliver transparent tones even at high gain settings.
LunaStone’s Opinion on True Bypass
Buffered pedals versus True Bypass is almost a religious subject nowadays. In my guitar setup, I want to be able to engage/disengage all physical components that my guitar signal is going through.
I would add a buffer that I like – but only if it is needed. I have discussed this topic with several guitarists who add more buffers to their pedal-chain to make up for what they think is a loss of signal. In most cases, though, this is not the problem. If you already have a couple of effects with built-in buffers, your signal is already buffered pretty well.
However, there is a good chance that your signal will become overly ‘colored’ by the buffers in the signal chain – standalone, built into pedals or in combination. And even though a buffer is designed to amplify 1:1, this ratio may not be realized due to differences in the transistors, resistors, and capacitors – especially if the products are mass-produced and not individually calibrated.
These are the reasons why all LunaStone™ pedals are based on True Bypass designs.