Review: Fulltone Secret Freq Distortion Pedal

Human hearing is most sensitive in the frequency range of about 1kHz to 5kHz, which is also where human speech is most intelligible. These are, similarly, the ideal midrange frequencies for the guitar, especially when you want your solos to prevail over a mix.

Over the years, guitarists have used various devices to find the ideal midrange sweet spot, including wah pedals, treble boosters, EQ and small combo amps. The Fulltone Secret Freq offers an excellent solution for guitarists who want fat, full midrange with vocal-like singing expressiveness that brings their playing right to the front of the mix.

Feaures The Secret Freq is essentially a distortion pedal with volume and distortion controls, but the circuit also includes a Freq control that boosts a certain narrow-band midrange frequency up to 20dB and a Highs control that cuts high frequencies when it’s turned down from its full clockwise/neutral EQ setting. Professional-quality features include true-bypass switching, a brilliant-red LED, four thumbwheel screws that provide screwdriver-free access to the battery compartment, and a center-negative DC adapter jack that handles any voltage from nine to 18 volts.

Performance Unlike wah pedals and treble boosters, the Fulltone Secret Freq provides sweet, expressive midrange without cutting crucial bass and upper-treble frequencies, producing rich, full-range tones that sound absolutely massive. The distortion control provides everything from subtle overdrive crunch to the aggressive roar of a fully cranked classic amp. Instead of compressing the guitar’s tone, the Secret Freq delivers smooth, singing sustain by enhancing the frequencies the ear wants to hear while maintaining excellent dynamics that preserve the guitar’s natural liveliness. Many midrange boosters have a pinched, nasal tone, but the Secret Freq’s character is satisfyingly dulcet and resonant, especially with single-coil pickups that need a little extra midrange enhancement.

List Price $225

Manufacturer Fulltone,

The Bottom Line

By enhancing key midrange frequencies, the Fulltone Secret Freq provides expressive, dynamic overdrive and distortion tones that boost solos to the front of the mix.

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Chris Gill, Video by Paul Riario

Chris is the co-author of Eruption - Conversations with Eddie Van Halen. He is a 40-year music industry veteran who started at Boardwalk Entertainment (Joan Jett, Night Ranger) and Roland US before becoming a guitar journalist in 1991. He has interviewed more than 600 artists, written more than 1,400 product reviews and contributed to Jeff Beck’s Beck 01: Hot Rods and Rock & Roll and Eric Clapton’s Six String Stories.