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A Tale of Two Hotcakes


Silver Supporting Member
I have owned two Crowther Hotcakes in the past, and enjoyed both. One was an early 2000s version with no internal DIP switches, the other was from 2008 after Paul started including DIPs for Bluesberry / Normal & Guitar / Bass. I've been wanting another lately , so I dropped Paul an email and ordered one.

I'd been poking around the Internet & reading about various Hotcake versions. Kept reading references to a "Komet Cake" or "Presence Plus" version. After asking Paul about this circuit variation, he said he could build me one with this option. I went for it & it arrived a couple days ago.

While I was waiting for my custom order, though, I picked up a standard 2012 Hotcake here on TGP. Since I have two versions now (Komet Cake and Standard, both with internal DIPs ) I figured I'd offer a little insight into the differences as I hear them. I'll proceed with the write up assuming that the reader is familiar with the Hotcake sound, at least from demo vids. In a nutshell: clear & pretty uncolored at low gain settings, with thick low mids & mids building as the gain is increased, as well as a nice harmonically rich "hair" / grit in the high end which some find blends well with the breakup of Vox / EL84 amps.

I'm basing these descriptions on play time using my Telecaster with a Don Mare tapped A5 bridge pickup and a home made amp with EF86 front end & 5881 cathode biased power section & Gz34 rectifier.

The difference between the two circuits is in the function & sweep of the Presence pot. The Presence pot on the HC is not your run of the mill "High Cut" style circuit, but rather acts quite a bit like a "Mid" pot on a parametric EQ or amplifier tone stack.

The Komet Cake / P+ Hotcake not only has more high end, but also cuts and boosts a different midrange band as you adjust the Presence Pot. As I hear it, everything about the PRESENCE circuit has been shifted upward in frequency... This makes for a generally brighter Hotcake with the presence pot at 12:00 when compared to the Standard HC at the same settings.

However, the cool part of the Komet Cake is that as you roll back the PRESENCE pot, you retain more treble than in the Standard HC circuit. The Standard HC can get a great dark, chewy lower midrange going with the PRESENCE back around 9:30... And the highs are slightly diminished as a result, too. With the Komet Cake, a higher midrange band seems to be affected, but there is also less cut in the treble as you roll back the Presence. This could be a good or bad thing for you depending on your guitar / amp combo.

I've been ABing these two circuits for a couple days, and find that both are really useful for my setup & style. Generally, though, I enjoy the Standard circuit for the grittier, hairier, thicker OD tones that the Hotcake is capable of. (Gain from 11:00 to 2:00 range) I am finding that the Komet Cake is brilliant for the Low to Medium gain capabilities of the Hotcake... ESPECIALLY with the Bluesberry switch engaged. This allows plenty of chime & detail to come through in the highs, even as I roll back the mids a touch to blend with my 15 Watt Silver Bell Alnico speaker... Engage Bluesberry mode, and the highest highs smooth out & round off nicely.

I hope this write up might prove useful to anyone searching for details on the Hotcake circuit variations. I had originally intended to keep the unit which best fit my setup, but I find that I like them both so much that I may just keep them both. Variations on a great theme.

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