Catalinbead has hopped on the DIY pedal hype trend with the Knight School Overdrive – a build-it-yourself stompbox that takes inspiration from a timeless drive circuit used in pedals championed by some of the biggest names in electric guitar.
The brand’s foray into self-assembly stompboxes comes only a few weeks after JHS Pedals struck gold with arguably the most desirable Klon clone in recent memory: the Notaklön.
An obscene number of the $99 pedals were sold (at a rate that grossly outpaced JHS’ demand projections) and the overwhelming message from the release was crystal-clear: people love easy-to-build, DIY pedal kits that sound good.
It’s this climate that the Knight School Overdrive finds itself in. Notably, it’s more affordable than the Notaklön (it’s currently listed for $85 on Catalinbread’s website) but that cut in cost comes with one caveat: you’ll need a soldering iron to piece this pedal together.
Whereas the JHS Klon kit was wholly solderless, and the simple assembly merely required attaching two control boards via a ribbon strip, the Knight School Overdrive is far more hands-on.
But enough comparisons, because the Knight School Overdrive is a wholly different beast altogether, and sets its sights on achieving a completely different tonal palette.
As Catalinbread explains, the inspiration behind the tones of the Knight School Overdrive stretch way back to 1975. In that year, Seamoon Effects founder Craig Anderton wrote Electronic Projects for Musicians – a seminal text that became a de facto handbook for aspiring pedal brands.
One circuit detailed in the book was the Tube Sound Fuzz, which would later go on to form the backbone of numerous pedals – both custom builds and commercially available products – throughout the decades.
Electro-Harmonix, for example, used the Tube Sound Fuzz in the late ‘70s to inform its Hot Tubes pedal, which in turn found favor among the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Kim Gordon, Jeff Buckley and the Edge.
Another example can be found in Way Huge’s Red Llama. The brand’s flagship circuit once again offered a tweaked and customized take on Anderton’s original blueprint, offering heavier grit and extreme touch sensitivity.
Again, the TSF-inspired circuit was championed by some notable names, including Tom Petty, John Mayer and Paul Gilbert. The Knight School Overdrive continues this long legacy of TSF-based pedals, but does so in a trend-friendly DIY platform.
As mentioned, this pedal is pretty advanced in its assembly, but to Catalinbread’s credit, it looks as though every effort has been made to make it as intuitive as possible. The supplied circuit board looks straightforward enough, with every component conveniently labeled for the build – you just need to be confident with some soldering.
Read all that and think it all sounds like too much work? Not to worry: you can also buy the Knight School as a good-to-go stompbox readymade for your pedalboard.
Performance-wise, the pedal is said to be “a dirt device that covers all the gain bases”, and has parameters for Volume, Drive and Mids. The latter, notably, is one spec the brand has introduced owing to the sonic nature of the TF circuit itself in an effort to work flexibly with a range of different amps.
The Knight School Overdrive is available as a kit now for $85, or as a built pedal for $50 extra.
Head over to Catalinbread to find out more.