When Joe Gore delved into the germanium primitive booster designs of the 1960s, he was astonished. How the hell did these electrifying, supremely dynamic circuits fall into disuse? He says he became so obsessed with the circuits that felt like he’d joined some weird germanium cult. That’s why he calls his own take on those circuits Cult.
However, the Joe Gore Cult Germanium Overdrive is no ’60s clone: It departs dramatically from the original ’60s circuits, providing fatter lows, fewer piercing highs, and more responsive dynamics. It just seems to “gush” more.
You probably know that 90% of today’s overdrives are related to a pedal whose name rhymes with Lube Reamer. These pedals employ an IC chip rather a discrete transistor. They compress your signal, making note attacks less prominent and limiting your dynamic range. The results are smooth and consistent—nothing wrong with that!
But Cult goes in the opposite direction, dramatically expanding your dynamic range. Note attacks crack like knuckles. Your phrases have an electrifying presence that seems to lunge from the speakers. When you hit the input hard, the bold, harmonically rich distortion maintains its edge, even in crowded musical contexts. Cult doesn't go “squish.” It barks.
The dynamic response is simply astounding - you can go from crystalline to meltdown by touch and guitar knob settings alone. With your guitar volume rolled back, the tone is nearly indistinguishable from bypass, so you can literally leave Cult on all night and conjure a huge range of overdrive/distortion tones directly from your guitar.
Cult isn’t for everyone. If you’re looking for an overdrive to smooth out your sound for consistent, predictable results, run away! But if you’re the sort of player who likes sculpting sounds via touch and dynamics, or if you enjoy tones that walk the tightrope between clean and distorted, Cult can be a revelation.
Cult was created in San Francisco and is built in Michigan by skilled craftspeople earning a fair wage.
Reviews and Testimonials
“The most dynamic overdrive we’ve heard.”
- Guitar Player magazine
“The Cult Germanium Overdrive caught my fancy with its elegant simplicity, gutsy tones, and extreme dynamic response. Seriously, the Cult’s dynamic range is freakin’ ridiculous! It does sparkling, mostly clean sounds as well as vicious, full-throated bark and everything in between. If you have a close relationship with your guitar’s volume knob and a hankering for something new and different, Cult will prove to be a very inspiring musical companion.”
- Tone Report
"What an awesome pedal. I don't have anything that sounds quite like it. It literally growls, in a totally musically useful way!”
- Dylan Thomas (The Dickies, 45 Grave, King Cotton)
“Every once in awhile I come across a pedal that just blows me away. The Cult pedal by Joe Gore is indeed one of those. This is the first overdrive I’ve heard in a long while that has its own voice, yet is rooted in familiarity. It pushes your amp in the perfect way. It’s more expressive than anything else I’ve encountered. It responds like a great amp. Clean to nasty just by how much attack you use. So I don’t even need to go to my volume knob. Incredibly expressive, and it’s voiced beautifully. Definitely the type of thing you can leave on all night and simply make a good amp great. Is this the perfect overdrive? No, that doesn’t exist, but it’s the closest thing I’ve found. I can see this being one of my “must bring” pedals for all scenarios for many years to come. It’s instantly become an essential part of my tone. Well done!”
- Richard Fortus (Guns N’ Roses, Crystal Method, Pink, BT, Dead Daisies)
"I’m always searching for interesting sounds, and I hit the bullseye. I love Cult, which I used on ‘Earthquake Driver’ and ‘Elvis Goes to Hollywood’ from the latest Counting Crows album, Somewhere Under Wonderland.. I love Joe’s ethos of simplicity. That’s the way I like it too."
- Dan Vickrey (Counting Crows)
“Damn,this thing packs a wallop! Once you turn it on, you basically want to keep it on. I you turn it off and after having it on for a while, you'll hear how starved and shriveled your original tone is. It's extra responsive to volume adjustments too.”
- Avi Bortnik (John Scofield band, solo artist)
“I don’t think I could describe Cult in one word (other than, you know,
bitchin'), but if I had two words, I’d pick ‘huge’ and ‘musical.’ It doesn’t alter the sonic personalities of my guitars. My Strat still sounds like a Strat. My PRS still sounds like God. Cult provides what so many of us are looking for: the ability to go from full-toned clean sounds to harmonically rich distortion with a simple nudge of the guitar’s volume knob. My first reaction: Why would you turn it off?”
- Tom Wheeler (longtime Editor-in-Chief of Guitar Player magazine and author of The Soul of Tone: Celebrating 60 Years of Fender Amps and American Guitars: An Illustrated History)
“Joe Gore has made a pedal that is exactly like he is: unassuming, self-effacing, and quietly virtuosic. You plug this thing in and the qualities you look for in a stompbox—uniqueness of tone, responsiveness to your own playing, robustness of build—are immediately felt. There is nuance to its breadth of tone, and you will be seduced.”
- Tony Berg, producer and session guitarist (Peter Gabriel, Weezer, Aimee Mann, Michael Penn, X, Squeeze, P.I.L., Wendy & Lisa, Lisa Loeb, Cracker)
“This pedal has changed my life and given me a whole new tone that I have been looking for. I can get a nice fat tone with plenty of bite and no mud. I can’t even think of plugging in my guitar without the Cult pedal."
- Greg Ingraham, Avengers guitarist and O.G. punk-rock god (Joe’s description, not Greg’s. He’s way too modest to talk like that.)
“The Cult pedal is an incredible addition to my tonal arsenal. I have a vintage Ampeg Jet, and this pedal turned my rig into a screamer. It also has a great tonal roll-off that changes character in a very musical way. Level boost and tone madness—love it!"
- Dave LeBolt, composer and session musician (David Bowie, Billy Joel, Foreigner, Julian Lennon), and former general manager of Avid/Digidesign
“Sometimes you come across pedals that just work right. It's not just how they sound – it's also how they make you feel when playing them. To me Cult is one of those pedals. It's got that sound I've been looking for for years now. To me it hits that classic late-’60s, early-’70s fuzz that I'd hear on records, but I never could find. Now I got it. So happy I plugged into this one!”
- Brent Paschke (Pharrell Williams's longtime guitarist)
"Playing guitar through Joe Gore’s Cult fuzz pedal is like being inside Billy Gibbons’ lucid dream. I’d describe the sounds as 'impossibly hot'. Ever left a cast-iron skillet on the stove too long? It’s like that. Anything you add will sizzle and steam. With my gear—an 1964 Gibson ES-335 and a ’63 brownface Fender Deluxe amp— Cult brought danger to the sonics. My amp has never caught fire. However, with the Cult engaged, it sounds as I imagine it would sound just before spontaneous combustion. The entire frequency range feels juiced up, yet the tone is still very true to what my guitar sounds and feels like with no effects at all. Miraculous! In the upper register (above the 7th fret on the high E string), I started to hear hints of sub-octaves below the notes I was fretting. Super cool! I’m drinking this Kool-Aid."
— Adam Levy (Norah Jones, Ani DeFranco, Amos Lee, Allan Toussaint, Tracy Chapman, solo artist, and Chair of the Guitar Department at Los Angeles College of Music)