Lazy J founder Jesse Hoff is the hottest boutique amp-builder in Europe at the moment, with everyone from Jeff Beck to Paul Weller plugging into his new interpretations of Fender’s classic tweed combos. The good news for those of us who haven’t sold a million records just yet is that a taste of that vintage magic is available in the slightly more affordable form of the Cruiser, a booster/overdrive pedal designed to push your valve amp over the edge into warm, natural distortion. And the even better news is that he’s sent us one to try out.
The four knobs operate in pairs: gain and volume control the meatiness and output level of the boost section, while drive and saturation work on the fuzzy stuff. Turning the drive down to zero takes this part of the pedal out of the circuit completely. The saturation control is actually a three-position rotary switch, with plenty of headroom on the right, something a little more compressed in the middle and a whole load of fuzzy clipping on the left.
In booster mode the Cruiser does exactly what it claims to do, taking your clean sound and making it bigger, and it’s as pure and transparent as a mermaid’s bathwater. Now dial in a touch of drive and things begin to get really interesting. The saturation switch offers three very different flavours of distortion, from subtle crunch to full-on filthiness, but the basic character of your guitar’s tone is never lost along the way. Who needs a tone control? It’s an ultra-sweet and totally organic-sounding overdrive, very much in the tradition of the legendary Klon Centaur – and if Hoff stops making these things tomorrow they could end up being worshipped in the same way.
Bypass sound then light boost with drive at zero
Overdrive with light saturation
Bypass sound then overdrive with medium saturation, then cleaning up with guitar’s volume control
Overdrive with heavy saturation
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