Diving deep into the Japanese pedal manufacturers and their large range of practical pedals
Limetone Audio are a company emerging from Japan and slowly making a name for themselves in Australia. With pedals that range from boosts and overdrives in the Irodori and Jackal, to the LTV-30H volume pedal which is one of a big range of volume and expression pedals. Limetone Audio produces super practical pedals to keep your signal primed before your amplifier, and as they produce clean sounds and cleaner looks, they’re pushing the envelope for a growing market for unique and boutique pedals.
Limetone’s focus seems to be simple pedals with a simpler aesthetic, designed to leave a clean sonic imprint without overly colouring or affecting your tone. In keeping with this focus, Limetone Audio’s Focus Compressor is a simple compressor with handy EQ to help shape the attenuation that the compressor imparts on your tone.
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The Focus is a medium-sized pedal with five knobs. There’s a big ‘Compression’ knob with an LED to indicate attack time and level of compression, the light indicating both that the threshold has been met as well as the amount of compression that has kicked in once that threshold is met. After the compressor there’s Level & Gain controls, and Bass and Treble to re-introduce any EQ lost from compression, or alternatively, it allows you to cut or boost even more.
The Level & Gain controls bring the Focus into… ahem, focus, by effectively doing the same job but offering different results. The Level control is designed to offer a transparent level back after the compressor has done its job, while the Gain does the same thing but with a less transparent and more ‘tube-like’ result.
If all these features seem part and parcel, Limetone Audio also offer the Focus-NX, a similarly designed and laid out pedal with Colour1 and Colour2 knobs instead of high and low, to push different (or simultaneous) sections of the midrange. While we’re talking mid-range push, it’s difficult to go past the Irodori and Jackal pedals.
The Irodori is Limetone’s flagship boost pedal, designed with one thing in mind and one knob in the circuit. Housed in a regular pedal-size chassis, the Idori features a “Vivid/Mellow” toggle switch and a level control with a bright LED that indicates when the pedal is on. Vivid pushes the overtones created by the Irodori further and creates an articulate and forward-sounding tone, while the Mellow pulls the focus back a bit, making it ideal for slipping back into rhythms sections, or to shape tone before a modulation or time-based effect to harness maximum warmth and ambience without the sharp attack of each note.
The Jackal, a five-knob distortion box, harnesses a combination of Limetone’s own brand of clipping and gain and a super famous British voice to bring you everything you need. The five knobs make up Level, 3-band EQ in Treble, Middle and Bass, and finally a Gain knob. Internal trims offer further control over balance, resonance, and presence. Two switches for Bite Mode and Plexi Mode add bite and snarl to your pick attack or roll back the gain for more classic rock tones. My advice would be get two Jackal’s and use both for your live show!
And while discussing live shows, it’s difficult to move past volume and expression pedals that make every performance unique, and Limetone offers a range of volume and expression in the LTV Series of pedals, re-housed versions of Boss volume pedals. The LTV-30L Version2, for example, is designed to be the most transparent and unobtrusive volume pedal available, built to control your tone, not alter it. The LTV-500L and LTV-500H offer the same transparent sound quality, but in a larger housing with a slight roll off for minimum harshness and maximum volume control.
If visuals are your thing, the Illuminate/ILM series of volume pedals offer the same qualities as the aforementioned LTV-30 and 500, but with a 10-step LED meter on the side so you can keep track of how much or little you’re pushing your volume. This feature is available in expression pedal format as well in the LTV-30L-ILM.
Limetone Audio are a company stepping ahead of the mess of boutique, but increasingly un-unique pedals companies, and they’re sincerely pushing the envelope for usability and player-focused designs. Their circuits and signal paths are total utility, but with handy features such as metering, colour toggles and status-LEDs to keep you confident in your tone while shaping it carefully as your signal works its way through your pedals.
Compression, volume and expression are nothing new, but the way Limetone thinks about them is. Instead of laying claim to have produced the most “transparent” compressor, they’ve simply added EQ controls for you to get those precious frequencies back into a more controlled tone. There’s high and low boost, or mid-shaping depending on your style! Boosts and drives are a staple of guitar, and Limetone’s offerings in either the Irodori or Jackal are tough to beat, simultaneously reflecting simple but comprehensive designs that allow you to delve as deep as you’d like to into them.
Finally their range of robust and re-wired volume and express pedals give the player the control that they’ve always wanted, without the addition of colour, or conversely the loss of tone as you roll back the volume. Cleaner volume, and more articulate expression and LEDs if you want them, the LTV Series of volume and expression are a cut above the rest. Limetone Audio are a company focused on refining the simpler things, but they’re the pieces of kit that we rely on the most. Most of us might take those pieces for granted, but Limetone aim to push the boundaries and expectations for functional pedals that’ll find a home on anyone’s board.