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Empress Distortion?


Gold Supporting Member
I was on Empress's site today checking out specs on their compressor, and I noticed that they have a distortion pedal. Didn't know that, and I don't think I've ever heard anyone comment on it.

Anyone got/tried one? Thoughts? What's the character of the distortion like?



It's the distortion side of their Multidrive pedal, which I've tried and liked a lot. The most interesting part of the three (overdrive, distortion and fuzz) was, to my ears, the distortion. I was pleasantly surprised by its ability to give low gain sounds (apart from the usual higher gain stuff), and very good ones too. I thought that it would stand somewhere in the middle between the od and the fuzz gainwise, but I was happy to see that I was wrong. The od and fuzz side did not impress me particularly, but the combinations of all 3 sides gave excellent results.

The distortion wasn't particularly Plexi-ish or JCM800-ish, and that was a nice surprise as well. It had a somehow sweeter tone of its own, a bit like a Box of Rock but less Marshall-y and with less bass. It's very responsive to your dynamics, and can also give transparent tones right on the threshold of overdrive. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to someone as their main drive.
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played one the other day in the store, granted there was a ton of loud crappy music playing in the back ground of this rather large and recognizable "center" of guitars, but it had a pretty wide range of sounds, a little more grind than i go for. but i am also heinously in love with my caroline wave cannon.
i really liked the mild and lead settings, but the crunch setting seemed a little extraneous. you could crank the gain on each setting and maintain ungarbled tone, which is important to me.
quiet operation though, which is pretty standard for empress. i realize this is barely helpful, but if i needed a distortion pedal tomorrow, i'd get it.


My initial thought was that most demos either did not do the pedal justice, or it just wasn't that good. Even the PGS demo left me thinking it wasn't worth the price. However, it was interesting to hear it used to accomplish a range of high gain tones, like by this Youtuber:


Clean Channel

I have the Multidrive (love it) and agree the distortion is the most interesting of the three circuits. With the mild, crunch, and lead switch, it's practically three pedals in one.

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