13.05.2022

In focus: Shnobel Tone

shnobel tone
Words by Lewis Noke Edwards

The boutique pedal manufacturers and modifiers have earned themselves a hefty reputation, and it's easy to see why

Shnobel Tone is a little known company producing and modifying pedals out of the United States. After company founder Roman Belonozhko began by modifying pedals, Shnobel Tone moved on to now produce their own boutique line of buffers, fuzzes, and overdrives after failing to find exactly what they were after in the market.

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One of their most famous products is the Lifetime String Replacement Kit designed to replace the temperamental string used to control Ernie Ball Volume Pedals. Their pedals are simple and classy, they’re stylish and will fit comfortably onto your pedalboard among your other pedals. Shnobel are a company made up of pedal users and hobbyists so they truly understand the plight of the player. Enough evidence of this can be seen in their Ernie Ball Volume Pedal mods and upgrades, both aesthetic and functional.

Ernie Ball volume pedals are used the world over, so it’s no wonder that the string used to control the output of the pedal wears over time. Shnobel Tone began their journey modifying these pedals with a “Lifetime String” that is more hard wearing and equally sensitive to minute adjustments to the volume, allowing equal control with zero risk of the string breaking when you need it most. Once you’ve got your volume sorted, your signal can be buffered, overdriven or fuzzed out through the Daily Driver, Buffer, or Fuzz Interface; a pedal designed to preserve your tone when using a fuzz!

We all know fuzz can be a difficult beast to tame. While the sound of the germanium or silicon transistors all but blowing out can be exactly what you want here and there – it’s not always a main rhythm tone kinda vibe. Because those transistors operate based on their input, vintage and modern fuzzes can expect different types of signal to operate optimally, which is where the Shnobel Tone Buffer Fuzz Interface comes in. The Buffer Fuzz Interface controls the input into the pedal itself, while the cable toggle switch allows you to emulate 0ft, 10ft, and 20ft cables that greatly affect the resulting tone from fuzzes. This rings particularly true for germanium-based pedals such as Fuzz Face or the Tone Bender, think super ’60s style fuzzes. If you’re not looking to integrate a fuzz specifically, a buffer can always help!

Shnobel Tone’s Buffer is a Class A buffer with a cable emulation toggle. Its small, pedal board-friendly design helps the player easily strengthen their tone, reducing tone loss caused by multiple patch cables and long cable runs from board to amp. Standard buffer operation is achieved via the ‘0ft’ setting, while the ‘10ft’ and ‘20ft’ settings progressively reduce a little top end and volume to keep everything sounding as natural as possible. Buffers are a dream to work with but can improve the signal beyond what we’re accustomed to hearing so the cable emulation is a nice touch. Naturally, Shnobel Tone have addressed that as well in both their Buffer and Fuzz Interface.

If you’re happy with your signal flow but want a little grit, Shnobel Tone’s Daily Driver is a great addition to your arsenal. It’s a simple, four-knob design that’s reasonably self explanatory, excepting the three-way high cut toggle designed to treat your tone before your amp, i.e. softening a bright amp or boosting a dark one! The Gain control pushes increasingly more and more harmonics into your tone, while the Output offers a bunch of volume to push your amplifier’s preamp section further into overdrive. The High and Low EQ allow you to add tube-like warmth or brightness that allow sweet, overdriven tones even when dimed.

In addition to buffers and overdrive, Shnobel Tone also produce the Ratatouille Distortion, an instant classic modelled on the ’80s Pro Co RAT Distortion Pedal specifically. Famous for its wide range of tones, the Ratatouille Distortion offers the famous Filter knob to roll off high end and everything from subtle transistor crunch to all out, “crushed speaker cone” distortion. Shnobel also offer the Volume/Expression Selector Box, allowing you to have multiple signals routed to an effect pedal with expression pedal capabilities, and toggle it in and out of your chain with a single footswitch, preserving your tone when it’s not in use.

Shnobel Tone is a company building and modifying pedals for musicians, and aiming to fill holes that they, as players, have identified in the market as well as on stage. A company producing products to modify pedals can surely be trusted to produce top quality pedals themselves, and the simple design of their buffers and drives is a testament to that. Their overdrive designs are simple but practical, offering sweet overdrive and a few handy controls to treat your signal as it passes through the pedal.

If you need more treatment, Shnobel Tone also offers intuitive buffer pedals that sweeten your tone as much or little as you like. They understand the behaviour of pedals and cables, allowing you to interface your vintage fuzz pedals or retain that ‘cable’ sound with the added clarity of a buffer pedal. Shnobel are building the pedals you didn’t think you needed, and helping prevent over-expression on stage contributing to pedals and your sound breaking down.

Head to Shnobel Tone for more information. For local enquiries, reach out to Gsus4.