Let me start by thanking Marc at Northern Stompboxes for lending me this beauty. The Warthog is a distortion pedal. It is housed in the standard Thorpy FX bespoke housing, which I must say is a wonderful thing. The enclosure has been so well thought out. If I made guitar effects pedals for a living I would be a little bit jealous of the person who makes these. The Thorpy pedals are a little bigger than some of the other pedals I have on my board, namely the Fredrics Effects pedals which are particularly small. That is not to say that they are huge, by any means, just a little larger than some, say the standard single footswitch Boss pedals.
This thing is built to last. I don’t imagine the largest of people would be able to break this by stomping on it. Not only is the enclosure bomb proof, but the internals look like they are the highest quality components. I will also say that it is the neatest wiring job i’ve ever seen. It is on a par with the Hudson Electronics pedals I have reviewed but is on a PCB as opposed to the vero board wiring of the Hudsons Electronics items.
Now to the pedal itself, the Warthog is a distortion through and through. It can do anything from clean boost all the way through to lush saturated verging on the edge of fuzz distortion. I enjoyed it best somewhere in the middle for a classic rock sound. It plays well with both single coil and humbuckers with enough gain on tap to push the cleanest of amps. On its own the Warthog sounds very good, but when paired with an overdrive pedal or a pre amp like the Hudson Broadcast it really shines. I slotted it into my chain after the Broadcast and before the Fredric Effects Golden Eagle. I would probably play around this the location of the Warthog, but it seemed to suit my tastes just fine where I put it. It has a neat trick up its sleeve with the calibre knob. The other three knobs are quite self explanatory, the Volume adjusts the volume of the effect, how quiet or loud it is. The tone adjusts the EQ, so all the way to the left is very bass heavy, and all the way to the right is the opposite and very treble heavy, somewhere around 11 or 12 o clock seemed to suit me just fine. The gain knob adjusts the amount of gain present, so all the way to the left and the warthog is a sparkly clean boost just tickling the front end of the amp and dimed the warthog is a snarling predator that makes your amp scream. My preference was around two o clock, you can really dig in and feel the distortion without it being a sea of saturation, chords ring out wonderfully but there’s still the articulation to be able to play single notes without them getting too lost in the gain.
The calibre knob is the star of the show, and as Thorpy FX describe it, “it goes from .22 calibre all the way up to .50 cal”. It adds a thickness to the sound without overwhelming the distortion, with the calibre set around a similar amount to the gain each note rings out beautifully and there is a harmonisation present that just makes the Warthog sing,
I know I’m gushing a little bit, and I suppose i’m making the Warthog sound like the best thing since sliced bread, and maybe it is. I really like it, I just can’t quite justify the price tag (£185). I know the two pedals do very different things, but I don’t know why I would need the Golden Eagle on my board if I had the warthog, and they both do different things. I suppose I just feel like the drive section of my board is getting a little out of hand and would be even more so if I added a Warthog to the mix.
If you don’t have these same problems as I do, and you would like a distortion pedal, I would stop looking, go and try this out because I’m pretty confident that you would enjoy it. It is expensive yes, but it is fantastically made and it sounds amazing, in a lot of cases you do really get what you pay for. There are some cheaper gems out there that may float your boat, and equally there will be people who swear by other more expensive distortion pedals. For me this is expensive but I can see why. I can’t see why you would pay more than £185 for a distortion if you can buy a warthog.
There are only a few times when I wouldn’t say that I would recommend a Warthog. I suppose if you played heavy metal the warthog might not be right for you, but as I don’t have a guitar with high output pickups I can’t assume too much here. With harder hitting pickups and a different amp, the Warthog might be even more of a beast.
I don’t think the Warthog would be an always on pedal, but then I suppose that’s not much of a problem. For me it seems to have that extra push in between the Broadcast and the Green Russian. I can quite comfortably keep the Broadcast on at all times, and use the second channel of that or Golden Eagle if I want a boost. But these are very different to the Warthog. It does bridge that gap quite nicely. And damn has it got me GASing hard!
In Conclusion –
- Sounds fantastic, for a classic rock tone
- Heavy duty, well made
- Inventive enclosure
- Top mounted jacks, can get plenty of pedals next to each other
- Heavy, so if weight is something you consider, and you want to carry less gear, this might put you off. The downside to the bomb proof construction is that it is fairly hefty.
- Expensive – But as I have said you do get a lot of bang for your buck
- May not be to everyonese taste. I love the colour on this, and think it has the best graphics out of all of the Thorpy FX range, but this wont suit everyone