DVK Technologies’ The Hair Ball is a one-stop gain-generating machine. Part overdrive, part boost, part treble booster and all attitude, it’s designed to help you achieve the ultimate distortion tone, and it gives you plenty of options with which to do it.
TO THE CONTROL ROOM
On the left side of the pedal you’ll find an overdrive unit with basic controls for tone, timbre and level, along with a stomp switch. On the right there’s a booster offering up to 28dB of boost, with a level control and a switch to select between full range and treble boost modes. The pedal runs off a 9V adaptor (no batteries here, so make sure you use a top quality power supply and do the right thing by your tone). The graphics are distinctive and cool, although if you’re like me and you share your house with a hairball prone kitty cat you might instinctively guide your foot away from the big hulking hairball in the middle of the unit. I guess that’s a good thing since the effect switches are either side of it.
THINGS ARE GETTING HAIRY
So let’s plug this baby in and make some noise. First up: the overdrive side. Based on a ‘TS’ type circuit, it can sound smooth and warm just like its little green inspiration, but it also offers more gain and a greater range of tone control, especially in the midrange and high end. You can get some flat-out raunchy tones from this baby, great for hard rock and Gary Moore-style hard blues, or you can schooch the timbre and tone down a bit for a more traditional SRV-type sound. The higher the gain is, the more cutting the treble dished out by the tone control appears to be, and it’s all satisfyingly interactive.
The boost side is really two pedals in one. The full range boost is great for adding extra oomph to your tube amp’s front end, and I quite enjoying finding the sweet spot on my Marshall where the pedal pushed the gain into EVH territory, but a quick stomp of the bypass switch brought everything back to earth. Kicking in the treble boost switch sucks out the bottom end and emphasises the treble and upper midrange for a killer chewy semi-fuzz tone, especially in combination with an already growly amp. Kick it on, switch to your neck pickup and play some power chords high on the neck on the E and A strings and you’re into Tony Iommi territory, my friend.
Of course, some extra cool stuff happens when you turn both effects on together, including some utterly sick high gain sounds and some otherwise-unattainable moderate-gain voicings created by finely balancing the two sides and experimenting with divergent tone control settings.
The Hair Ball is a one-stop gain shop with plenty of tonal variety for those who really need to scream. I’m always excited when I stumble across a pedal that pays tribute to the treble boosters of yore, and the Hair Ball doesn’t disappoint on this front or its pure boost and overdrive offerings.
Price: RRP $299
Phone: (03) 9555 8081
By Peter Hodgson