Since teaming with Jack White-owned Third Man Records for the Bumble Buzz, Union Tube & Transistor has been receiving well-earned acclaim for their deceptively simple and stylish pedals. Despite the recent Third Man push, the Vancouver-based company has been making quality pedals since around 2007 when owner/designer Chris Young sought out an alternative to a vintage pedal he couldn't find.
Building off Young's MORE boost pedal, UTT's latest innovation, the Tone Druid, has just been released and made its way to Vintage King. In honor of the new overdrive's release, we chatted with Young about the creation of the pedal, his design aesthetic and what's coming up in the future for the effects maker.
How did you come to the realization you wanted to build off the MORE pedal for this model?
We kind of felt like we already had the ultimate overdrive in our MORE pedal but were trying to take into consideration people's requests for something they switch in and out while having access to those tones. The Tone Druid is more standalone while the MORE needs to interact.
What inspired the tone that you can achieve with this pedal?
If you compare a MORE pushing a 12ax7 with the Tone Druid you'll hear much the same response. It can sit right on the edge or get into the kind of amp compression that is key in many of our favorite guitar tones. It seems like a simple enough idea but it was something we have been working on for almost two years.
How do you like to use the pedal in your chain? What playing situations do you think the Tone Druid will shine in?
I like to use it almost like another channel of an amp. I run it second to last in my signal chain (just before our MORE than my amp). If you wanted to replace a Tube Screamer with something more akin to what you expect out of a great amp, I think the Tone Druid is an excellent choice. It's also great for artists flying in to unknown backlines as you can use almost any amp that can do clean well and have your own gain to feed it. Also, for people in the studio who want to grit up drum machines, bass and keyboards, it's killer.
More than any other modern company, your pedals have a well-designed aesthetic while still keeping it extremely simple. What was it that made you start designing your pedals in that fashion?
Jeez, you're going to make us blush. We simply wanted something classic. A hidden feature of our badge is that the four screws that hold it in place also hold the circuit-board in mid air so that the switch, LED, and jacks don't touch the circuit-board and make those rare instances where repair is required that much easier. We also didn't want names for our pedals that would embarrass people or exclude anyone.
What's next for Union Tube & Transistor? Any hints at what you guys are working on for the future?
More fuzz flavors. We just released our Tour Bender which is a more heat resilient version of our Sone Bender. We also have something special in the works that we've told Tom Menrath (Vintage King's Head of Strategic Development) about. Don't want to spill the beans till it's progressed a little more, but suffice to say we suspect the Vintage King crowd is going to swoon when they get there hands on it.
Pete Thorn, Vintage King's resident guitar guru, took the Tone Druid for a spin to offer insight into the sound of this awesome pedal. Check out Pete's demo of this new Union Tube & Transistor's pedal below: