[Updated on 01.19.2019]
Perhaps the most legendary (and expensive…) guitar pedal of all times, the Klon Centaur was one of the first boutique stompboxes, and proved that an overdrive could be much more than just distortion. Created by Bostonian Bill Finnegan in 1994, the pedal and its innovative circuit (which uses an IC MAX1044 voltage converter and two germanium diodes) changed how overdrives interact with a player’s rig, and how they are perceived overall.
A quick online search for an original unit today (January 2018) gives us prices ranging from $1,900 to $3k+!
No wonder many manufacturers have been trying to recreate that sound at a lower cost! If you are in the market for a Klon or a faithful recreation, this is your definitive guide.
THE ORIGINAL: THE KLON CENTAUR – [BUY LINK]
With an initial price tag of $225 (hefty for 1994), The Centaur provided transparent, glassy mojo, while adding pleasing harmonic content to whatever signal chain was lucky enough to go through it. It could be used as a supplement, or as the focal point of a rig, and many famous players loved it as a clean boost and many others as an “amp-in-a-box.” The point being, it excelled at everything.
Within a few years, the pedal gained legendary status, also because of Klon’s dedication to customer service, and to hand-wiring every unit that left their shop. Finnegan stopped building the original model in 2009 – at that point he had hand wired 5,400 of them. (You can find a more comprehensive history of the Klon here.)
Clicking on the thumbnails will open a demo video!
THE UPDATED KLON: KLON KTR
The original Centaur took up a beastly amount of pedalboard space, and the KTR (manufactured by Klon’s inventor Bill Finnegan himself, but contracted out to make it compatible with mass production) features a smaller footprint. A toggle was added to switch between true or buffered bypass. Some say it doesn’t compare to the original, but considering it was built by Finnegan himself, the KTR is the closer to the Centaur a pedal can get, according to its creator, who – by the way – thinks it sounds exactly the same.
AUTHENTIC “KLONES” ABOVE $150
While an original Centaur can fetch a king’s ransom on the used market, there are a variety of much more affordable options that try to stay true to the original design.
This list, in a perfect but less playful world, would be named “Clones of the Klon Centaur.” Needless to say, we aren’t the first ones to exploit this play on words linked to the manufacturer name’s similarity with the word “clone.”
J Rockett Archer
$199 – J Rockett went to painstaking lengths to design their take on the Centaur, appropriately named the Archer. One of the few recreations that includes the Klon “secret sauce”, the Archer uses the same NOS germanium diodes that Finnegan used in the original.
$350 used – A point-for-point rendition, but extremely hard to find and very sought after. Used only, and good luck snatching one. They fetch upwards of $600 on the used market. The good news is that JHS offers an EHX Soul Food mod that is readily available and widely praised.
$179.97 – The smallest Klone around. A faithful re-imagining of the original design in miniature shape – which makes it unique, at about 1/4th the size of the original!
ARC Effects Klone
$155+ Used – This is the pedal that coined the term “Klone” (as in “clone of the Klon,” get it?). The Arc Effects’ stompbox is a recreation that replicates all components from the original design, at around… 10% of the cost or so!
Stigtronics – Tone Vitamin
$189 – Quite affordable and small, the Tone Vitamin is hand built and can be personalized in color. Stigtronics doesn’t get much press but their klone gets flattering reviews on musicians’ forums.
Rimrock Effects Mythical Overdrive
$150 – One of the designs that most closely resembles the original Centaur, this unit uses only the highest-quality components.
$175 – A well received Klon emulation that is also sold as an unassembled kit (for $25 less).
Mythos Mjolnir Overdrive MK IV
$199 – A Klone very close to the original, with tweaks only intended to improve consistency and deliver a smoother overdrive sound. Also available is a Germanium Mod that features features hand matched Germanium Clipping diodes, featuring softer clipping that is more compressed with less overall gain. facebook band
Piedmont Effects Aluminum Falcon
$150 used – A faithful, quite affordable reproduction of the classic Klon Centaur circuit with a very similar look as well.
RYRA The Klone
$190 – “An exact, part for part, meticulously crafted replica of the infamous “transparent” overdrive pedal.”
MORE AFFORDABLE “KLONES” (Under $150)
For those who can’t afford hype, there’s no need to break the bank to get “a” Klon” sound. Some of these pedals are affordable because they are built in assembly chains, while others are sold direct, which allows for a lower price point
Electro-Harmonix Soul Food
$78.20 – The Soul Food is the epitome of the “Klone revolution.” Great-sounding, waaay under $100, and readily-available, it is pound-for-pound one of the most popular Centaur-style pedals. A switchable buffer/true-bypass feature solidifies it as a contender against the others. The overall sound is said to be a little thinner, but it works well stacked with other overdrives.
MXR Sugar Drive
$120 – One of the few mini-klones available on the market (at least for now), the MXR Sugar Drive simplicity is deceptive. The drive knob in this circuit blends the clean guitar signal with the overdriven one as you turn it up, while the circuit’s headroom in increased through what is referred to as a “Charge Pump.” A switch lets you choose between bypass or MXR’s buffered bypass.
Chellee Ponyboy Overdrive V3
$119 – Klon Centaur based overdrive offering both a buffered clean boost with plenty of chime and a rich transparent overdrive for pushing your edge of breakup tones into singing lead. The voicing switch shifts the frequency range of the Treble control. In V3 a new selection of diodes adds a new tonal dimension to the higher gain settings and a bass control allows for a little extra tone shaping.
Pedal Monsters – Klone
$150 – This offering is a solid affordable choice, hand built by a Washington DC, passionate company that presents itself as the “Robin Hood of the pedal world.”
Tone Bakery – Creme Brulee
$99 – One of the more affordable options on this list, the Crème Brulee isn’t a point-for-point recreation, but it comes damn close, and gets great reviews at our Stompbox Exhibits!
IdiotBox Han-Taun Overdrive
$129 – An affordable emulation featuring – in the words of the maker – ” a bit more beef and tighter high end.”
This mini-pedal offers the handy option to emulate not one but TWO versions of the Centaur Overdrive: Gold mode is the mimic of the classic, transparent Gold Centaur overdrive pedal, and the Silver mode is a powered version with an extended gain range (Silver Centaur).
KLON EVOLUTIONS (AND SOME PRETENDERS)
Of course, perfection doesn’t exist in the realm of audio engineering, and even a successful circuit like the one of the Klon has been the object of reinterpretation and attempted improvements. A couple of manufacturers, ironically and mischievously, even used its popularity to promote completely different circuits!
Bondi Effects Sick As Overdrive
$250+ Used – Inspired by the Klon, this pedal features a toggle switch that controls the amount of headroom and character of the drive, and an extra Bass knob for added versatility. Both EQ knobs allow 15dB of boost or cut.
Keeley Ox Blood
$199 – Here’s a description coming directly from Robert Keeley in this page’s comment section, after we mistakenly listed this pedal in the Klones category: “The Oxblood is not a Klone or a mod of one. We designed it on Instagram over a three day period where you can see our schematic and circuit develop. The design goal was to use a voltage doubler, a clean blend path, a different style clipping, offer much more gain, and more EQ possibilities. I did however want it to be confused as a Klone, so I’ve always marketed it as Not A Klon.”
J Rockett Rockaway Archer
$249 – A version of the popular Archer with six graphic EQ sliders instead of tone knob, developed by guitarist Steve Stevens. Each sliders controls 18dB of cut or boost at 6 different frequencies.
Wampler Tumnus Deluxe
$199.97 – An evolution of the original Tumnus (see “Authentic “Klones” list) in a bigger enclosure, with optional true bypass switch and tonal flexibility through a three way EQ section.
Analog Pro Audio Manticore V2
$322.45 – A reengineered but authentic sounding version of the now rare original, the Manticore V2 gives the Klon tone a fresh look, introducing an extra gain stage at the input level and a Savage knob that fattens up your guitar signal through a unique low pass filter.
Foxpedal Kingdom V2
$229 – A Klone that attempts to enhance the original with higher voltage spread for more headroom, and two switches affecting the signal’s clipping.
Matthews Effects The Architect V2
$190 – An evolution of the Klon that adds flexibility with a three-way clipping toggle and a full 3-band active EQ.
Rawkworks Light OD.
$179 – An evolution of the Klon circuit featuring a clean bass control and clipping toggle switch
MojoHandFX Sacred Cow
$179 – A Klone with two twists: an ironic one (the legendary Centaur image is replaced by the culinary icon of a cow), and a tonal one, thanks to the added flexibility of the appropriately named “Fatty/Lean” Toggle, with the former adding a touch of extra girth, very useful for quieter pickups. Like the original, it convert the signal internally to 18v.
Soulsonic FX – Illuminated Overdrive
$170 Used – Not liking to be considered just a “Klone,” the Illuminated Overdrive includes a nice added features: a 3 way toggle switch lets you select the type of clipping.70
Pelican Noiseworks Pelitaur
$190 – Perfectly camouflaged as a Klone, this is actually a double fuzz. Don’t miss the manufacturer’s criptic introduction to the pedal, aimed at confusing and then surprising the Klone seeker.
$225 – Dual overdrive preamp with a Klon and Tube Screamer circuit in parallel.
Anasound Savage MkII
$250 – Inspired by the Klon Centaur, this pedal features a mahogany enclosure and several trimpots inside the case to control tone, OD bass, EQ and clipping.
LoneWolf FX Minotaur
$199 – A pedal inspired by the Klon but with some mods (more about it here).
The world of “Kloners” is ripe with more or less successful attempts and experiments by emerging manufacturers. Here’s a list of some of the less popular or discontinued models.
Tone Monk – Phoenix
A highly sought-after Klone that has been off of the market for quite a while.
Dan Zink – Minotaur
A Klon emulation but in a smaller enclosure. 9v DC, buffered output just like the original.
Ham Fist – Fancy Lad
Hard to find, but reputable Klone.
Yellowcake Pedals – Blackbox
The Blackbox’s unique features are the knobs on the top side of the enclosure.
Matthews Effects Klone
True to the original except for being true bypass, now discontinued.
Monsterpiece Fuzz Stud Overdrive – $199
It looks like a generic pedal, but some expert say it’s one of the closest “Klones” out there.
SHOOTOUT VIDEOS AND OTHER LINKS
If the pedal demos we linked to in the galleries above weren’t enough to sway you one way or another, there are a series of videos where the various Klon inspired pedals get compared directly through shootouts: we’ve embedded here some of them to better inform your choice.
And if you are wondering how different the Klon sounds compared to another legendarily influential pedal, the Ibanez Tube Screamer, you may want to check this video out:
There are dozens of musicians’ forums about Klones, rather than pasting them all here we’ll just defer to Google… they are pretty good at it!
P.S. Did we forget something or posted incorrect information? Please post a comment and we’ll look into it!