Catalinbread launches the Formula 51, an overdrive pedal inspired by the Fender Tweed Champ

Catalinbread Formula overdrive pedal
(Image credit: Catalinbread)

Catalinbread has expanded its Formula family of effects pedals by unveiling the Formula 51 – a compact overdrive pedal that promises to harness the tones of Fender’s classic one-knob Tweed Champ guitar amp.

Joined by new-look versions of the existing Formula 55 and 5F6 pedals, the amp-in-a-box is also the latest addition to the brand’s Foundation Overdrive collection, which comprises numerous overdrives inspired by some of the most famous tube amp circuits of all time. 

Highlights from the wider collection include the '70s Marshall Super Lead-inspired Dirty Little Secret and Vox AC30-esque Galileo, with each pedal vowing to deliver “all of the real amp feel, dynamics, and tones” found on the original amps.

As such, the Formula 51 is in esteemed company, and once again sets itself a tall order by striving for the versatile tones of the Tweed Champ, which was born out of numerous revisions and circuit alterations that began way back in the 1940s.

Catalinbread Formula overdrive pedal

(Image credit: Catalinbread)

The amp itself, first known as the Champion 800, features only one control – a Volume knob – yet is capable of an impressive range of cult classic tones championed by a handful of A-list guitar stars, such as Neil Young, from “gently gritty cleans to honking, mid-heavy blown out distortion”.

These tones are the goal for the Formula 51, which recruits a preamp, discrete power amp simulator and an output transformer in effort to cover all the sonic and dynamic bases.

It also expands the control set, coming equipped with knobs for SAG, Tone, Volume and Gain. Volume and Gain are fairly straightforward, but the Tone is particularly intriguing: according to Catalinbread, it’s inspired by the “vintage amplifier playbook” and incorporates the mid-scoop control of the Framus Cobra amp.

In practice, when Tone is all the way down, the Tweed Champ sounds are at the forefront, though when it’s maxed out the pedal supposedly taps into later “Blackface” amp tones.

SAG adds extra versatility to the mix, controlling the degradation of the transformer in an effort to further conjure up and fine-tune a range of vintage tube amp sounds.

The Formula 51 arrives alongside new-look versions of Catalinbread’s Formula 55 and Formula 5F6, which are inspired by the 5E3 Tweed Deluxe and '50s classic Tweed Bassman, respectively.

In terms of price, the new Formula 51 is available now for $179, while the Formula 55 and 5F6 can be purchased for $189 and $179, respectively.

To find out more, visit Catalinbread.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.