Guitar Pedal Reviews

Analog Man King Of Tone


Analog Man, in collaboration with Jim Weider, have come out with the pedal we have been looking for many years – the Analog Man King Of Tone.

There are many overdrive pedals on the market, but none of them have been quite right, preserving the tone of the guitar and adding the right amount of overdrive without compromise. There are some good clean boosts available, but they just don’t have enough drive to really give your amp the distortion you often want. There are some newer OD pedals that have a great frequency response, but to me they sound too DRY, a bit sterile and cardboardy.

There are also some nice sounding pedals available but their sound is too “saturated”, losing the touch and feel of your guitar. That is where the Analog Man King Of Tone pedal comes in – it has enough warm overdrive but still preserves the tones of your quality guitars and amps. If you are looking for a big change in your sound, or a lot of distortion, this is probably not the pedal for you.

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Analog Man King Of Tone Details

Jim had been using an original TS-808 for well over 20 years, it’s now housed in a 1980s TS9 case after Rick Danko stepped on it at a concert that THE BAND played. Jim likes the tone of his TS-808, but has always found it loses some low end and is a bit too heavy in the mids. I also love TS808s and have sold thousands of TS9s with our TS808 mods.

But sometimes I have wished for a less compressed, more open and natural sound with more of the guitar’s actual tone, or as Jim says “you can hear the note better”. A Tube Screamer makes it easier to play and sound good due to the compression and vocal midrange boost, but a master player like Jim would often prefer less coloration to allow his techniques and superb tone to get through.

A good friend of ours suggested the old Marshall Blues breaker pedal might work for Jim, so we found one on ebay and I had it sent to Jim who said it was pretty good. So I got another one on ebay and modified it quickly with some improved parts for a baseline test. I brought it up to Woodstock and Jim’s sounded better, I was surprised! Then I opened Jim’s up and saw that it was already modified heavily!! I thought he was playing a joke on me, but he just laughed, someone sold it on eBay like that.

I tried those mods but didn’t like them much, so we totally redid the circuit with different diodes, chips, capacitors, treble trimpots, modes- pretty much everything was changed. And of course the Analog Man King Of Tone is two pedal circuits in one box. So our Analog Man King Of Tone pedal is not much like, and does not sound much like a BB pedal anymore. Especially the clean or distortion modes are different, and the higher gain option changes it even more, making it more useful throughout the DRIVE knob range. We used the higher gain Analog Man King Of Tone circuit as the base for the Prince Of Tone which came out in 2012, and improved the DISTORTION mode also on the POT.

The Analog Man King Of Tone overdrive was designed to take an amp at reasonable settings, and make it sound like it would sound if it were naturally driven to pure, smooth, tube distortion. It was fine-tuned with Jim’s 1960s Fender Deluxe Reverb amp to duplicate the sound when his amp is singing, but at lower volume settings – to simulate the natural tube amp distortion of preamp and power tubes. It does the same thing on other amps like Vox, Marshall, etc, making them sing in their own voice.

Jim’s amp was modified by our good friend the late Cesar Diaz, and is about the best sounding Fender amp I have heard. Later on, I tested the Analog Man King Of Tone on my own 1966 Deluxe Reverb amp. My amp is stock, and does not sound that great when it’s cranked up. It gets loud but not very warm or singing, a little harsh. My amp sounds MUCH better using the Analog Man King Of Tone for overdrive, then it sounds very close to Jim’s amp.

Tube Screamer Comparison
Everyone seems to know what a Tube Screamer sounds like, so we can use them to describe how the Analog Man King Of Tone sounds. Even our modified Tube Screamers and all the boutique TS clones out there are still basically tube screamers, so this info will still apply. The Analog Man King Of Tone is one of the few overdrive pedals available that is NOT based on a Tube Screamer circuit. In OD mode, it has a little less drive available than a Tube Screamer. It has quite a bit more volume available than a Tube Screamer and The TONE control has a similar range. The Analog Man King Of Tone has less compression than a tube screamer, and also does not boost the mids or cut the low end as much. It does not have a large amount of distortion.

Once we had a prototype that Jim liked and used on stage several times, I emailed the circuit to my collaborator in Japan, Ohbayashi san, and he tried several ideas I gave him. CAMTAC Ohbayashi san has a superb ear for details like capacitor and chip selection and came up with some great ideas for the pedal- a chip and diodes that made it sound even better! The special JRC chip he preferred was designed for audio tone controls, and has a warm yet clear sound. The diodes are more open sounding, for a stronger, clearer, less compressed sound and more volume. All the nuances of your playing and each string of the guitar will come through clearly.

The Version 4 King of Tone was developed in late 2005 due to popular demand for separate controls for each channel of the original 4 knob Analog Man King Of Tone. The original Analog Man King Of Tone was one overdrive circuit, with 2 channels, having separate volume controls and internal configurations. Almost all “dual overdrive” pedals available are like this. The Ver4 Analog Man King Of Tone is actually TWO overdrive pedals in one box, one on each side. Remember that each side is a separate pedal, and they are the same except for how you set the DIP switches. Each side has an on/off switch, LED, and three independent knobs. Each side also has configuration DIP switches and a TREBLE trim pot on the inside. Having two actual overdrive circuits allows you to use both pedals at once, in series (stacking) for even more possible tones and levels of drive!

Each side has its own Volume, Drive, and Tone control and LED. We use SUPER BRIGHT Yellow and Red LEDs so you can easily tell which channel is selected. In addition, there is a TREBLE INCREASE knob on the inside of the pedal. This is a small knob or trimpot which can be turned by hand or with a pick or small screwdriver. Jim does not need more treble for his Tele, but I found it allowed some superb tones with my ’59 reissue Les Paul through my ’69 Marshall amp, similar to the sweet yet biting tones of Michael Bloomfield (I believe he used a Fender Twin amp with his famous 1959 sunburst).

DIP switch settings
There is also a four position configuration DIP switch on the inside of the Analog Man King Of Tone which you can use to choose between Clean, OD, and DISTORTION modes for each side. I designed this switch to allow almost anyone to be able to find the exact sounds they want. This picture shows the factory settings. It is two pairs of two switches, the left two switches are for the red side and the right two for the yellow side. You can set either side to normal OD mode or CLEAN mode by moving it’s OD/CLEAN dip switch (switch 1 or 3). You can set either side for additional distortion, with the DIST dip switches (2 and 4). When you turn one of these DIST switches ON you get significantly more and harder distortion, and a little less volume. When the DIST switch is on you can’t get the normal OD or CLEAN modes on that side. See the manual for specific information on setting the DIP switches.

The modes are:

  1. Normal Overdrive mode (OD mode): This is the standard Analog Man King Of Tone sound, which Jim likes best- a little less drive available than a tube screamer. Factory DIP switch setting has this mode on the right (red) channel. This mode can get about 4 times louder than a tube screamer if desired. This mode engages SOFT CLIPPING like most overdrive pedals.
  2. CLEAN mode : This mode has less drive, can be used for clean boosts or clearer, louder sounds. It’s like a clean boost with an overdrive knob. CLEAN MODE is even less compressed than the standard OD mode. The factory DIP switch setting uses this mode on the left (yellow) channel. This mode can get twice as loud as the OD mode. You can think of the clean mode as the OD mode with the overdrive removed, allowing louder, clearer tone. But the drive knob still functions and can add some drive to the sound, and volume as it’s turned up. It’s a cool sound with the drive knob cranked! This mode has NO CLIPPING, like most boost pedals.
  3. DISTORTION mode : This mode has more drive than the standard OD mode- a touch of hard distortion. The sound is more compressed, yet retains the King Of Tone character. This mode can get about twice as loud as a tube screamer. Think of this mode as a cross between a Boss DS-1 distortion and OD-1 overdrive, with more clarity. We recommend most players use the OD and CLEAN modes. While the DIST mode sounds great, and I like to use it on certain occasions, it does not allow the pedal to get it’s absolute BEST tones. You can put an aged single malt Scotch whisky on ice, but it would be a shame to dilute it! The DIST mode is awesome with the HIGHER GAIN option. This mode engages HARD CLIPPING like most distortion pedals and some fuzzes. It’s best to turn the OD dip switch down when using the DIST mode, especially with the higher gain option to avoid duplicate clipping (soft and hard clipping together).

Either side can be set to any of the three modes, with the DIP switches. I recommend setting the right side for most distorted sounds and the left for cleaner, then when used together you get more of a volume boost. But if you want more distortion and compression, you can try it the other way around too.

At low DRIVE settings, or when playing softly, there is not much difference between the three modes- they all clean up very nicely as the clipping does not start until you turn the DRIVE knob up higher. This pedal cleans up a lot better than a Tube Screamer type pedal, if you play softly or turn your guitar down they will not have the underlying fuzziness that most pedals have.

DIP switch simple chart

  • both sides clean boost : off off off off
  • red side OD, yellow side Boost (factory setting) : ON off off off
  • red side clean boost, yellow side OD : off off ON off
  • both sides OD : ON off ON off
  • both sides DIST : off ON off ON

Voltage of King of Tone
Running the Analog Man King Of Tone at higher voltage will give it some more headroom and clarity, especially in CLEAN BOOST mode. New Analog Man King Of Tone pedals can be run up to 18V no problem. On older ones, you may have to check, as the electrolytic capacitors determine the maximum safe voltage. There are two of them near the power jack, between the two white TREBLE trimpots, C10 and C11. They are 100uF and will have a voltage listed too, 16V or 25V usually. They are sometimes mounted on the bottom of the board which makes it tough to get to them. Don’t exceed the listed voltage on them. We used high voltage caps in the last several years for 18V usage.


Pedal Type: Dual Overdrive – two separate pedals in one enclosure
Analog/Digital: Analog
Inputs: 1 x 1/4″
Outputs: 1 x 1/4″
Bypass Switching: True Bypass
Power Source: 9V DC power supply (not included, also accepts 18V for increased headroom)
9V Battery Option: Yes
Input Impedance: 1 Mega Ohm
Current Draw: 6-10mA
Dimensions: 4.75″ x 3.75″ x 1.5″ (Width x Length x Height)
LEDs: Super bright red and yellow LEDs

Analog Man King Of Tone Reviews

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