Josh Smith and Poly Effects finally unveil the Flat V – a wild two-channel gain pedal that took more than two years to make

Poly Effects Flat V pedal
(Image credit: Poly Effects)

Despite championing a roots-based blend of blues and jazz, Josh Smith uses some of the most high-tech gear currently on the market.

As per a previous showcase with Sweetwater, Smith’s pedalboard is a work of technological art, with the bluesman pairing his enviable chops with state-of-the-art smartphone compatible stompboxes and motorized preamp pedals.

To that end, Smith has now teamed up with Poly Effects for yet another futuristic pedal, called the Flat V – a two-channel drive pedal that offers a wealth of hands-on controls.

Sharing a similar name to Smith’s flagship Ibanez signature guitar, the Flat V1, the overdrive pedal looks like it could be one of the most tonally flexible and functionally intuitive drive boxes out there, thanks to its unique touchscreen-esque slider control system, diode-selecting powers and true analog tones.

In practice, the Flat V offers two channels. The first is transistor-based and has four selectable diodes to alter the tone, while the second is described as an amp-style gain circuit with synth-inspired resonator filters to shape the overall sound.

Taking things a channel at a time, Channel A only answers to two control sets: the dedicated footswitch – which engages the circuit – and the diode selection strip, which lets users use touch sensitive icons to flick between Germanium, LED, Schottky and Silicon diode options. Naturally, these bring to the table their own baseline tones.

Channel B, meanwhile, responds to almost every other control set on the pedal. Engaged via its own footswitch, the channel offers more touch-sensitive slider controls to sculpt self-explanatory High Pass Filter Cutoff, Volume, Gain and Low Pass Filter Cutoff parameters.

As an extra, each slider also has a secondary function, engaged via the touch labels underneath the main parameter. These functions include High Pass Filter Resonance Level, Envelope Attack Sensitivity, LFO Speed and Low Pass Filter Resonance Level.

Those last two parameters – as well as the previous two filter controls – coincide with the second selection strip, which lets users change between four wave shapes and blending patterns: Sine, Square, Triangle and Envelope Follower. 

Now, it’s all fairly straightforward so far, but the Flat V ups the ante even further when the Signature button is thrown into the mix. Located in the center of the pedal, the Signature button grants access to a second side of Channel B, indicated by different color LED lights on the sliders.

Effectively, the Flat V oscillates between these two sides, and thus between two entirely different High Pass Filter, Low Pass Filter, Volume and Gain parameter sets. As you can imagine, this lends itself to a seemingly endless range of tones, as demonstrated by a particularly thorough demo from R.J. Ronquillo on YouTube.

Once these have been selected, the pedal also offers six preset banks, which can store and recall six wildly different setting selections via yet more touch buttons. 

But that’s not all: there is also a channel stacking button, which determines whether Channel A goes into Channel B or vice versa. Again, another control for even more tonal nuance. In terms of connectivity, the Flat V features standard input and output jacks, as well as ins and outs for MIDI compatibility.

And breathe. It may just look like a box of flashy lights with some novel control mechanisms, but upon closer inspection the Flat V is so much more – it genuinely looks like one of the most feature-packed, forward-thinking drive pedals to arrive in recent times, one that makes the most of digital control and analog tone.

And, if you needed any more indication of just how strong this pedal is, Smith has confirmed it will be replacing his beloved Tchula pedal – his main drive pedal and the driving force behind his signature sound for quite some time.

Priced at $399, the first batch has already sold out, but more are tipped to arrive in the next few weeks.

To find out more, head over to Poly Effects.

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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.