Monday, November 21, 2016

Mojo Hand Fx Iron Bell Review

David Gilmour has become a name synonymous  with both Tone and Phrasing. But his tone has evolved over the years the tone on Wish you Were Here vs the tone from On An Island is quite different even if the playing is similar. There is nothing wrong with playing fast, it's fun and entertaining and can be somewhat impressive. But as I've matured as a player I find myself being drawn to people who slow down and make every note count. David is one of those players who always caters to the song, and he knows how to make a single note sound more impressive than a hundred.

Iron Bell in Rusty finish
If your looking for a dead on Muff clone to stack with compressors and overdrives the Iron Bell isn't what your looking for. Big Muffs, like many other fuzz pedals, can be tricky. Played into the wrong set up they can sound awful. Loads of bottom end, rough distortion and no definition are not the terms you think of when you think of David Gilmour. And while the Iron Bell is a muff based pedal it's smoother, articulate, and more responsive than most Muff based pedals that I have played as if there is already a compressor before the Muff and an Overdrive after it.

This is a pretty easy pedal to get a great sound out of no matter what your setup. Start with all the knobs at noon and start tweaking. Add a delay pedal and your favorite Gilmour licks and you'll find your way very quickly. 

The thing that makes this pedal so versatile is the contour knob which can give you a more pronounced mids like the Civil War Muff or scoop them out like an old Rams Head Muff. This has since become a very popular mod with a lot of muff builders, some adding a mids knob others adding 3 way switches. This combined with the smoothness and overall character of the tone make this an easy go to pedal for Gilmour tones.  

David also uses overdrives like the BK Butler Tube Driver and early on the Colorsound Powerboost. It's not really bright enough for the Powerboost but the Iron Bell can do a decent Tube Driver, even though I tend to use an OCD clone for these sounds. The APS2's in my Strat can get a bit lose on the bottom end and the Iron Bell is just tight enough to tame any kind of fartiness. It won't go from scream to clean when you turn down your volume but it does clean up quite a bit and the top end tends to open up when you do this.

Using EMG's with the Iron Bell and combined with my old Visual Sound H2O can nail most of the sounds from the 80's and 90's. Throw in a phaser for Wish You Were Here, a flanger for Animals or The Wall and a UniVibe for Dark Side of the Moon or Live at Gdansk and you can get 95% of the way there for just about anything.

While not my first thought I was surprised when I played Steve Vai's For the Love of God and Blue Powder with this pedal. Normally I'd grab a Suhr Riot or the Wampler Pinnacle for this but the massive smooth articulate sound of the Iron Bell works surprisingly well for shredding. 

I've been a fan of Mojo Hand Fx for years, their Zephyr is one of my favorite fuzz pedals ever and their Rook pedal is a favorite on pedalboards everywhere. One of the most impressive things about Mojo Hand as a company is their commitment to quality. I bought this pedal second hand and after I posted posted a picture on Instagram. They reached out to me because they noticed one of the letters had rubbed off and they asked me if I wanted to them to replace it. I declined because I really don't care about such things. The pedal works great. But they did tell me during the exchange that if I ever had any problems or questions to reach out to them and they would  help. Fantastic customer service for sure.  

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