New Paris-based pedal builder Kernom has announced the RIDGE overdrive pedal, which it says offers “infinite clipping” options from an analog circuit.
Describing its innovation as the world’s first “augmented analog pedal”, Kernom says its patented approach to electronic clipping, “controls the nonlinear elements of the clipping stage (traditionally diodes) by changing in real time their threshold, making them behave like a new kind of diode”.
This means that it has the potential to open up a massive variety of clipping options, which should make the RIDGE an incredibly versatile analog overdrive, combining a wealth of drive flavors into the one box.
The technology sets it well apart from existing flexible overdrives, which typically offer either digital emulations of classic overdrives, or in more expansive analog builds, the chance to engage a choice of two clipping diodes for variety.
The clipping behaviour is controlled via the ‘Mood’ knob. Turning it from left to right takes you from high headroom, clean boost territory to highly compressed overdrive.
There’s also an assortment of EQ control via the Pre Tone, Post Tone and Mid dials. Finally, there are Drive and Volume knobs, plus two footswitches: one for on/off (with true bypass) and one to engage a preset.
Interestingly, though it remains powered from a standard 9V input, RIDGE offers a top output of up to 30V – a “punishing voltage”, as Kernom like to put it, which should keep your amp on its toes, to say the least.
In terms of connectivity, the RIDGE has an expression pedal input and – while it is an analog overdrive circuit – offers full digital control via MIDI I/O. This gives you remote control of all the parameters – excitingly, with the opportunity to connect a third-party MIDI controller to manipulate parameters in real-time – plus up to 128 presets.
This latter feature is useful, because despite the vast tonal flexibility on offer, you are limited to just one preset in the pedal itself, which at the risk of nit-picking, seems a little underwhelming given the (otherwise forward-thinking) nature of the project.
RIDGE promises an awful lot. Even assuming the technical innovation is solid, the real key to its success will be in its ease of use (ie, how swiftly players can summon up great tones amid the variety on offer).
These caveats aside, it seems there is some genuinely exciting and thoughtful tech at work here from Kernom, with potentially huge implications.
We’re clearly not alone in thinking so, either: the Kernom‘s Kickstarter (opens in new tab) for the project hit its target within two hours of launching. The campaign has now doubled its target amount and still has a way to go before the deadline on November 20.
If you fancy backing the project, pledges start from €30 for merch, or €220 (approx. $254) for the pedal. Head to Kernom‘s Kickstarter page (opens in new tab) for more information.