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Funny Little Boxes 1991 review

The sound of Pearl Jam's Ten in a compact pedal

Funny Little Boxes 1991
(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

A pedal that nails Pearl Jam’s Ten album tones for a very reasonable outlay.

For

  • Excellent drive pedal for rock.
  • It can make you sound like Pearl Jam circa 1991.
  • Hand-made in the UK.
  • Great price point.

Against

  • No switchable channels.

The pedal market keeps finding new ways to part us with our cash. The name here will strike a chord with many of us who grew up on an incredible era of alternative rock – and it started with a challenge from excellent YouTube guitar tutor at Let’s Play All and Pearl Jam tribute band guitarist Matt Webster, issued to Funny Little Boxes pedal store founder Andy Ilgunas: build a pedal that nails Pearl Jam’s Ten album tones for £99.

This original circuit offers two gain stages on the basis that Gossard and McCready pushed their JCMs with overdrive pedals on PJ’s debut. The latter inspiration is seemingly in the ballpark of a Tube Screamer that drives the second Marshally gain stage. 

Hand-made in the UK and a quality build, we love the Ten touches in the colourway and control typeface. And yes it can do that Gossard drive tone, and more. 

Image 1 of 2

Funny Little Boxes 1991

(Image credit: Future)
Image 2 of 2

Funny Little Boxes 1991

(Image credit: Future)

We tried the 1991 with valve and solid-state amps, with a variety of guitars and found its ‘mid-forward’ voice to be a huge strength, along with the dual gain stages that offer gritty overdrive that sounds big while retaining the articulation and chime of your guitar’s character. Suffice to say, it will hold up in a live mix.

Even with the gains at zero, the pedal is probably too spicy if you need subtle boost, but that’s not its agenda, and we found the whole gain range appealing, up to big riff and overblown solo territory.

By the way, if you’re playing Alive, set gain 1 full and gain 2 around midday on a bridge ’bucker. 

Funny Little Boxes 1991

(Image credit: Future)

This is a hugely appealing drive pedal for rock. And as Ilgunas’ first original circuit, we can’t wait to hear what he does next.

The logical next step for the 1991 could be a version 2 with switchable channels for 1 and 2, though that would likely bump the price up from what is currently a sweet spot for both your wallet and your tone.

Specs

  • PRICE: £99 (approx $130)
  • TYPE: Overdrive pedal with two gain stages
  • CONTROLS: Gain 1, Gain 2, Volume, Bass, Middle, Treble
  • SOCKETS: Input, Output, Power
  • BYPASS: True bypass
  • POWER: 9V DC (11mA draw)
  • CONTACT: Funny Little Boxes

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Rob is the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar, he worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including as Editor of Total Guitar. He's currently set aside any pipe dreams of getting anywhere with his own songs and is enjoying playing covers in function bands.