Not sure if you all remember NeedToBreathe’s first album titled “Daylight”, but my wife calls it the Fire Lion album (pictured right). Since she started calling it that, the album cover has been imprinted on my brain, so when Fox Pedals released their Kingdom transparent overdrive pedal a while ago I had to try one out. Not sure if you all will see the similarities in the visual designs but I sure do.
I have tested and grown to love many Klon/Transparent overdrive pedals over the past 5 or so years and based on the description of this pedal and how others reviewed it I expected that this pedal would be similar. Boy was I wrong (in a good way). You can definitely get Klon’ish type tones out of this pedal but it does so much more. Here is my thoughts on the pedal.
As I mentioned before the pedal first caught my eye because of it’s polygon, geometric lion head graphic that pops off the textured white pedal. There are other versions of the pedal that more resemble the Klon’s golden box but that design is over done in the pedal industry. The polygon lion on textured white embraces both meaning and beauty. The Lion as an animal is majestic, powerful and fierce while maintaining a beautiful elegance. This pedal is very similar to this in that it embodies the core of what a transparent Klon type overdrive is but ads much more bass response and clarity with a tons more headroom. See? The lion suites this pedal well.
Tone Enhancement Not an Alteration
I run a variety of high-end effects including, JHS, Strymon & Cusack through a Bad Cat Cub III 30R and my main guitar is a Gretsch G6128T Duo Jet. I tell you this not to brag but to tell you that when I purchase a pedal I do not think of it as an enhancement to my baseline tone but rather a way to alter it. This pedal I have to say is pure enhancement in the low gain settings. I have found my favorite setting is the gain at about 10:00 to 11:00 with the tone knob cranked and the volume at just around 9:00 depending on guitars and amps used.
The Fox Pedals website states that “The Kingdom is a transparent overdrive that adds unicorns and fairy dust to your signal. Joking aside, it really brings to life your guitar and your tube amplifier in ways you’ve never experienced.”
While this sounds ridiculous and like it could be an exaggeration they are absolutely, 100% accurate in the description. Switching this pedal from on to off through $5k+ of gear is like the crash right after your Monster Energy Drink wears off.
It Plays Nice with Others
Let’s face it, worship guitarists are always changing pedals, adding, subtracting, stacking, etc so it is important for a transparent/tone enhancement pedal like the Kingdom to play nice with your other overdrives, reverbs, modulation and delays. In the lower gain settings the pedal reacts well and enhances overdrives similar to how it enhances my Bad Cat. It gives each of the overdrives more clarity and allows picking and lead riffs to ring out. Using the pedal with light reverb and delay in an effort to thicken your tone works wonderfully. The pedal ads clarity allowing you to utilize more reverb and delay to thicken up your tone without it washing out. In ambient reverb and delay settings the pedal ads a slight amount of sustain and grit that just makes ambient swells ring out and cut through the mix.
As much as I love this pedal I think that it is really only good for low gain/tone enhancement. The pedal has a great deal of gain on tap but the headroom of the pedal makes it a bit hard to dial in usable settings in higher gain modes, especially on a 30 watt tube amp. It seemed to be more usable in higher gain settings through my 15w Fender Blues Junior. Even though the pedal was more usable the higher gain settings were definitely less impressive and to be honest they can be had in every other transparent overdrive pedal out there. Where this pedal shines is the low gain, always on, tone enhancement arena.
- People will flock to your pedalboard and ask, “What is that pedal with the Lion on it?” Just remember that I warned you.
- Adds unicorn fairy dust to your tone. Really it does.
- Think overall tone enhancement. Yes it will probably be the cheapest pedal on your board and yes it will make your hand-wired $3000 boutique amplifier sound better. Who cares.
- Fox Pedals as a company is very responsive and serves their customers well. I couldn’t be happier.