Putting a .1 cap across the outside lugs of the tone pot really does 'smooth' it out. I like it darker myself, looking for the Super Bass tone. I like it a lot at lower gain settings. If you don't want it that dark, try a .047 cap. That got rid of the whine, while still having some bite. You can always go smaller if you want. I don't think it's a bad component. I think it's part of the design, very simple and not something I've seen before. I think it's an excellent platform for a simple mod or two. I really recommend the 220k resistor across the outside lugs of the gain pot. It really opens up the available range of gain. Stock it goes from 0 to mud quick (good mod trick for any pedal with too much gain). Mine was the tri-color. And these won't take a battery, because of the voltage up-converting chip. AC only. Not that they tell us anywhere in the specs... Congrats on your first post. All part of the learning process.