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BJF Honey Bee: Quick first impression

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by e-flat, Jan 18, 2006.

  1. e-flat

    e-flat Supporting Member

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    Just got my Honey Bee last night (Thanks, Dean) and had a chance to run it through my AC30CC at moderate volume for about two hours, so this is a honeymoon-quickie review. Guitars were a 52 RI Tele w/ Fralins and an SG Standard with WCR Crossroads.

    First off, this pedal is HEFTY for being so small. Feels very solid. Of course, the signature BJF finish is reported to be prone to chipping etc, but the box has a lot of character. The finish literally looks like someone took a honey dripper and oozed it onto the box. I like it, but the appearance isn't why I bought this box.

    I've had very a particular medium-gain, "verge of breakup" tone in my head for a really long time, but I have not been able to acheive it with any OD I've tried. I have been hunting for a slightly saggy, "slinky" tone that can be mellow without being inarticulate. After trying many other ODs (most of them awesome in their own right) I finally broke down and ordered a Honey Bee.

    Short story: This is the box I should have tried first. It is THE tone I have had in my head for ages, and more. The Nature knob on this thing is very unique... Turned CCW it fills out the bass and loosens the bottom end simultaneously. Turned CW the Nature knob "thins" the signal a bit without getting bright. I swear, it almost sounds like you are selecting different speakers & cabinets with this Nature pot.... To the left is big & woody, with boom if you want it, and to the right is more like dialing in a Champ or other 8" cabinet. VERY handy, but takes a little getting used to.

    The Drive available hear is deceptive...The box never "feels" like a pedal. The dynamics are like plugging into an amp... I know that others have mentioned this before, but I'm always sceptical as I've heard that about pedals before and been disappointed. This box just feels like it melds with your pickups and tubes, giving you a very fluid tone. Also, even with the drive cranked you MAINTAIN that feeling, which I think is uncommon.... Most boxes might sound quite natural at low gain, but the "pedalness" comes out as the drive is cranked. The Honey Bee doesn't exhibit this trait.... and yeah, you really can make it react to pick attack like a nice little tube amp. Even at full tilt I could coax some nice creamy clean-ish lines, then dig in and it would bark.

    For God's sake, if any of you guys out there play "Americana" stuff (a la Jayhawks or Wilco or Son Volt etc) and you have been let down by drive boxes that can't deliver a vintage, natural slight breakup you MUST buy this box. It delivers that cranky, open overdrive of a classic small American tube amp in spades ... and can do more. I am counting the hours till I can get home and play it some more.... Now that I've found the box that can get me the tone I've sought for my main rhythm sound, maybe I can start playing the damn guitar without thinking about pedals all the time! :D

    Thanks BJF for making such a great box.
     
  2. omensixaxe

    omensixaxe Member

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    i have been considering dropping the bomb on one of these for a while, but ive always been intimidated by the price...but if it accurately grabs that "just before break-up" tone, as well as you say, im sold.
     
  3. Ben C.

    Ben C. Member

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    +1000

    I feel the same way about mine . . . thinking how many boxes I tried and sold or tried and returned . . . always with the Honey Bee in the back of my mind but with what I considered a prohibitive price tag. Bit the bullet and it was the best pedal purchase I've ever made.

    -Ben
     
  4. Don Rusk

    Don Rusk Biggus Bearfootus Vendor

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    Very well spoken.

    All I can add is that the 'ampness' is why its so nice to run a fuzz into the HB. It sounds like running your fuzz into an warm amp rather than further distorting it with a pedal. You keep the organic feel of the fuzz but get a more useful sound, and the fuzz retains the touch interaction with the HB - so you can have a very complex sound that is still natural and touch sensitive..... using the HB for the overall 'rhythym' voice and stomping a good fuzz in front for solos is big fun and 'americana' heaven. [​IMG]
     
  5. teddy boy

    teddy boy Member

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    Gents,

    The Honeybee is the BJF that I'm interested in at the moment. Can it do rock? I'm talking Keith Richards level gain type riffing? Would you use it as your rhythm od?
     
  6. teddy boy

    teddy boy Member

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    Ooops, thanks DonneR! Guess you answered it!
     
  7. Matts Tone

    Matts Tone Member

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    Like many I have thought about purchasing the Honey Bee but never have. I have owned BJF LGW & SBEQ all good with fantastic fidelity but not quite what I was seeking!!!

    I have as well been looking for that vintage tone with a slight breakup so it sounds like a good fit!!!

    I may have to go & buy one & see what all the fuss is about!!
     
  8. Lution

    Lution Member

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    what other low od pedals did you try before the HB?
     
  9. Craise

    Craise Member

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    e-flat,
    I think you hit the nail on the head!
    Great Review:AOK
     
  10. e-flat

    e-flat Supporting Member

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    Lution:
    I've tried lots of stuff for low ODs, all the way from FD2s to Menatone stuff to full-range Rangemaster clones... There are others that do it well, but none that had the tone I was looking for exactly. I also like the Menatone TBIAC and WMB for medium gain, and my Hotcake Bluesberry does this well too. Also tried the Pro Analog Dual Drive... terrific box, but a little more modern sounding IMO and leagues away from the Honey Bee for sure tone-wise.

    Just different flavors. The HB is MADE to do this, though, and whereas other boxes have a small range of settings where you can dial in a useable low gain tone, the Honey Bees WHOLE range of settings is in this vein. Also, the HB never sounds "choked" like some other ODs do....Very open and organic sounding. So for low-med gain, I haven't heard anything even close.

    BTW- Telecaster > Hotcake > Honey Bee > Top Boost Channel of AC30 seems to be quite a diverse line up. :AOK

    Donner: I'm gonna mess around with running my D*A*M Space Oddity in front of the Honey Bee tonight.... See what that MKII and '66 can do with a little Honey after them. Maybe the HB will help take some of the sizzle out of the high end and make the fuzzes more useable on the Top Boost channel ? We'll see.:dude
     
  11. erksin

    erksin Member

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    Dangit...

    Why'd you have to bring up Son Volt and Wilco, e? I've been trying to stay away from the HB because of the cost factor, but those tones are still eluding me - I think I'm gonna have to knuckle down and order one. What the hell, cheaper than an amp, right..?
     
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  12. Phil M

    Phil M Member

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    I've been thinking about the Honey Bee a lot lately too. Yes, the cost has seemed somewhat prohibitive for me.

    But I keep reading how it does the amp on the edge of breakup sound so well. But so do all my amps. So why would I want a Honey Bee?
     
  13. Ben C.

    Ben C. Member

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    Timmy, Pedalworx Cactus Crunch, B/C Gainster, Barber Silver LTD, Tweed side of the Toadworx Death Rattle, Menatone Red Snapper (PTP and PCB versions), Lovepedal Eternity, AC Booster, RC Booster (still have). I'm sure I'm forgetting one but it's not coming to me.

    Those are the ones I tried for low to medium gain purposes in the same respect that I use my Honey Bee (which actually has quite a bit of gain depending on the output of your pickups).

    -Ben
     
  14. teddy boy

    teddy boy Member

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    You have a Cactus Crunch? How long have you had it? Can you be more specific on how it behaves with the Honey Bee? How do you like it otherwise?

    Sorry for all the questions!
     
  15. pdubs410

    pdubs410 Member

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    Yer killing me here, eflat! I've just really been enjoying my new silver LTD with my AC30CC2X...sounds so much better with this amp than my analogman ts-9 (which is a great pedal, but doesn't seem to be a good match with the Vox, to me, anyway). I've never heard of this honey bee, but now I've got GAS. I've got a 1960 Supro Royale Reverb that sounds amazing (not enough wattage for gigs) and this pedal sounds like something exactly right my alley. Now, it will have to sit in the back of my mind until I can save up the cash!

    In the meantime, I'm really enjoying the Barber. It sounds really, really good to me. I ain't complainin'.
     
  16. m4tt

    m4tt Member

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    sound clips! :)
     
  17. Ben C.

    Ben C. Member

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    Ha! Sorry- I HAD a Cactus Crunch.... what I was saying with the post was that the RC was the only one in that list that I have kept. And I didn't own it at the same time as I did the Honey Bee.

    The Cactus Crunch... I ordered and received it right when they came out originally. It WAS crunchy and nicely EQ'd... but it had this weird splatty thing going on. I posted something about it over at the MusicToyz forums... and George B. said that holy crap there was an issue and he went to redesign the pedal to its current incarnation that no longer has this problem.

    BUT- sampling what I heard with the CC, it just wasn't the particular overdrive I was searching for. Not a bad sound, just not what I wanted. It was crunchy and fairly transparent. I think 'biting' would be a good word (and I mean that in a good way). I think I wanted something that added a touch of thickening and added warmth, which the HB has while staying pretty darn neutral EQ-wise.

    I think the CC was kind of like being attacked by a flock of 15-20 ravens with sharp, large beaks. Occasionally the claws will get you too, and they are clearly enjoying themselves. They really 'cut through'.

    The HB is more like initally being gently gummed on your hand by a 2 foot shark, and then when you go to pull it off, 3 rows of very very tiny teeth dig in and scrape your skin as you pull it off. But if you stop pulling, it will go back to just gently gumming you.

    -Ben
     
  18. Grant Ferstat

    Grant Ferstat Some guy in obscure bands in a far away place... Silver Supporting Member

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    It sounds perfect for me too. I go for a rhythm sound that is what you'd call a clean dirty or a dirty clean. It's going to cost a truckload to get one to Australia.

    Damn, damn, damn!
     
  19. T-bone

    T-bone Member

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    Great review!
    I love my Honey Bee.
     
  20. Straleno

    Straleno Member

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    Ben C., you've got quite a way with analogies...

    I got mine last week, and E-Flat's review is really dead on. It's pretty special. I have a lot of OD's that are good for their own reasons, but nothing does what the HB does. The King Of Tone is the only one that is in the ballpark, but it's still not the same.

    Also fantastic is a level booster into the HB. I ran the Klon into the HB with the Klon's output cranked and the gain from 0 to 1/4, and it turned the HB into a raging beast, but with all the amplike feel and dynamics it has at lower levels. Awesome. My old Boss FA-1 was really good into the HB, too.
     

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