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Tone City/Movall Pedal Owners

Discussion in 'Pedal/Effects Owners Clubs' started by StormJH1, Aug 11, 2017.

  1. StormJH1

    StormJH1 Tele-Holic

    [​IMG]

    Just had to start a new club for Tone City pedals, which came out around 2015 and were readily available in the UK (most notably through Andertons) and elsewhere, but were actually quite difficult to track down in the United States...until now. More on that in a minute.

    On the surface, this is just another Chinese brand offering clones and circuits repackaged in the micro Hammond 1590A enclosure. But the similarities end as soon as you see how well these things are built - think Mooer durability with a gorgeous gloss paint job and firm, reliable switch, jacks, and pots. I've allowed myself to own just a few new "boutiques" from Wampler, JHS, Earthquaker, etc., and the experience of unboxing this thing was more akin to those than any other sub-$100 pedal I've ever tried.

    I'm starting with the Golden Plexi, which I believe is their best seller - it's based on the Carl Martin Plexitone. But I'll soon have my eyes on the Sweet Cream (based on Sweet Honey clone), Fuxx Fuzz (Foxx Tone Machine), and others. In fact, maybe I can spend $49 a pop on these for awhile (the price of a retail BOSS DS-1!!!) instead of going off in the weeds on more expensive gear.

    I'm including the Movall brand in this thread because Tone City and Movall pedals are exactly the same models but with different artwork and marketing.

    AVAILABLE IN THE U.S. - As I said, Tone City really isn't on Amazon (still as of August 2017), and not a lot of the other Western vendors seem to carry them. Fortunately, I have to sneak in a great plug for a local store - Riff City Guitar - which is apparently Andertons-affiliated, and therefore carries some brands that you don't often find in U.S. stores (Victory amps and Chapman guitars to name two other examples).

    https://www.riffcityguitaroutlet.com/

    They just happened to open a 2nd location here in Minnesota a few miles from my house, and my experience with them was top notch. They do online shipping to the U.S., and the experience with them was comparable to Sweetwater (the gold standard, IMO). Free shipping, usually at your door within 2-3 days, and this included a styrofoam peanut-packed box with a handwritten thank you note and a fresh cookie. So please give them a look if any of this interests you - I have zero affiliation with them, other than I wandered into their store (which wasn't open yet) and they took me around for a quick tour amidst the construction.

    Tone City/Movall brand looks like a winner for budget-minded musicians more interested in quality than "cool factor".
     
    Random1643 and neilybob100 like this.
  2. BB

    BB Poster Extraordinaire

    May 17, 2003
    Great Pacific NW
    I just picked up a Tone City 'Bad Horsie" overdrive. It's touted as a budget Klone. Since I have zero experience with Klons/Klones, I can't say. What I can say is it sounds spectacular!

    Other than a reverb pedal, (a Tiny Spring?) I have no need for more pedals. Tone City makes it tough!
     
  3. StormJH1

    StormJH1 Tele-Holic

    Yep, Bad Horse is the other one I looked at. Glad to hear you like it!

    Over the past 5 years (coinciding with the so-called "Golden Age of Pedals", I've gone through a bit of a cycle with pedals:

    ----
    Tried low-end Chinese clones of various effect types (OCD, Klon, Crunch Box, etc.) -->

    Bought real/boutique versions of certain effects I really liked -->

    Sold/flipped more expensive pedals to buy better-quality clones (Mooer, Tone City, etc.) of those and other effects
    ----

    The original idea behind these micro pedals was "Hey, we can make effects that sound 95% like the ones you know and love, and we can make them cheaper and smaller". Tone City's pedals, however, feel like something actually built to last. They're Eastern-manufactured pedals designed to give you the whole experience of a Western-backed brand.

    The Tiny Spring looked interesting, but it didn't really sound like a Spring Reverb to me. That doesn't mean it's necessarily bad. The store I mentioned above has a quiet amp room - I'd like to test it out someday. A year ago I had basically no reverb pedals, but now I'm more than set in that department too, so I need to avoid accumulating "average" ones.
     
  4. BB

    BB Poster Extraordinaire

    May 17, 2003
    Great Pacific NW
    Thanks for the heads up on the Tiny Spring. I really don't need a spring emulation, just a nice, warm verb sound to fatten things up a bit. I have not listened to demos or read any reviews, but figured if the tiny spring is anywhere near the quality of the Bad Horsie, I may be able to get one sound to make me happy!

    I bought a Mooer Spark reverb pedal on a whim as it was so cheap. I'm a simple kind of man and want instant (well, fairly!) gratification. I spent a good 10 minutes fiddling with the controls and could not find a verb tone I was happy with. The bad news; I don't have a verb pedal. The good news; I was able to double my money on it.

    Back to the Bad Horsie....get it! The other day I set it up with the level slightly boosted over what it would be with the pedal off, set the tone knob around 2 PM and the gain around 9-10 AM. It sounded so good, I failed to turn it off and did the whole set having fun with my guitars volume control.
     
  5. Cliffyg62

    Cliffyg62 Tele-Meister

    214
    Aug 16, 2015
    West Berlin, nj
    Loving The mandragora trying not to buy the plexi...
     
  6. BB

    BB Poster Extraordinaire

    May 17, 2003
    Great Pacific NW
    Glad to hear about the Mandragora. I've only perused it lightly, but the description fits what I like. How are you using it? What tones are doing it for you?

    The Bad Horsie continues to impress. Low gain settings provide a nice bit of blass (glass and balls) to the proceedings. In low volume situations, this pedal has already earned it's stripes.

    As the gain knob continues to climb, a veritable treasure trove of unique, enchanting tonal vistas begin to open. The controls are very smooth in their taper and quite responsive. I know very little about pedals, so I may be talking right out my arse, but they seem to interact with each other in a very musical way. The tone knob is also quite nice. It actually works! Seriously, it's voiced quite nicely and I can turn it past noon!
     
  7. Cliffyg62

    Cliffyg62 Tele-Meister

    214
    Aug 16, 2015
    West Berlin, nj
    I'm just experimenting. Working on a gain pedal project to see which pedals work where. So far just testing alone on clean model. It's just got a great mid sound but i like cranking it up too. I've been low gain so far so I'm just branching out. Oh relatively new to electric so I'm working my way up the dirt ladder.
     
  8. BB

    BB Poster Extraordinaire

    May 17, 2003
    Great Pacific NW
    Cool Cliffy! I'm a low gainer myself, so I get it. Have fun in your search for filth! Remember Grasshopper, the destination is not important. It's all about the journey! I've been on (and off) this road for many years. The greatest lesson I've learned is to relax, let it roll and enjoy when all my preconceived notions about pedals and tone are slammed, crushed and tossed off the roof.
     
    Cliffyg62 likes this.
  9. Cliffyg62

    Cliffyg62 Tele-Meister

    214
    Aug 16, 2015
    West Berlin, nj
    Ya made me try the plexi... its just fun playing something that sounds marshally... new path on the journey to follow. Or turn to 11 and annoy the neighbors lol...
     
  10. BB

    BB Poster Extraordinaire

    May 17, 2003
    Great Pacific NW
    The fella I got the Bad Horsie from offered me his Model M pedal. Why am I tempted?? The old, classic Marshall tones I favor are more than covered with my old Blues Breaker pedal......Hmmm.....I have to remind myself that I have had two Guvner's and sold them.....still
     
    Cliffyg62 likes this.
  11. StormJH1

    StormJH1 Tele-Holic

    So, the store (Riff City) I referenced opened their location last weekend, and I stopped in to pick up the Sweet Cream. The Golden Plexi was "decent", but the Sweet Cream is outstanding. I wanted to buy 2 or 3 of them on the spot, but thought it would be kind of excessive to buy the Sweet Cream AND Bad Horse at the same time, since they operate very similarly as transparent low-gain drives (you could probably throw the Mandragora in that camp, as well).

    I got the Caline English Man a while back, and I think that's basically the same exact circuit as the Golden Plexi. Will probably end up selling that one now since it's a little bigger and I prefer the Tone City form factor. There's nothing "wrong" with it, but I own two of the higher end options for Plexi-in-a-box (Ramble FX Marvel Drive and ZVex Box of Rock - hey, both from Minnesota!), and those pedals have more clarity and versatility for a Plexi style tone. All that being said, if you're not already swimming in Marshall flavored pedals, and want something that sounds like a Plexi cranked to all hell, the Golden Plexi is an excellent choice at $49.

    That's some good tonal imagery! I'm almost certain to pick up a Bad Horse in the very near future. But I've yet to find a Klon circuit that really worked for me thus far. I've heard the Mad Professor Sweet Honey described as a good Klon alternative, so it makes sense that I might prefer the Sweet Cream for some nice low-gain transparency. I'll keep my EXH Soul Food and this one other really cheap Klone I have (XinSound), so hopefully the Bad Horse will be an improvement on those two and the end of the Klone hunting.

    My store has those, also, and I'm definitely trying before buying any of those. The reviewers on that other popular guitar forum seem pretty divided on the dual-switch tone city pedals. The "King of Blues" is one of the better sellers, but I think it's just a TS on one side with a more scooped OD on the other side. The "amp-in-a-box" pedals (Marshall, Vox, etc.) appeal to me more, but again, I'd really have to try them out first to see if I like them. Might be a little too similar to the Golden Plexi also.
     
  12. Cliffyg62

    Cliffyg62 Tele-Meister

    214
    Aug 16, 2015
    West Berlin, nj
  13. sliberty

    sliberty Tele-Afflicted

    Mar 19, 2007
    East Brunswick, NJ
    I also picked up a Sweet Cream a while back, and really like it a lot. But I also picked up a Mooer Blues Crab, and I expect only one will remain on the board as they both fit into similar low-mid gain territory. Sweet Cream has more gain on tap. I can't go wrong with either, but will make up my mind eventually.
     
    Cliffyg62 likes this.
  14. Cliffyg62

    Cliffyg62 Tele-Meister

    214
    Aug 16, 2015
    West Berlin, nj
    I thought about that one but have some that do something similar. Let us know how it works works out.
     
  15. sliberty

    sliberty Tele-Afflicted

    Mar 19, 2007
    East Brunswick, NJ
    To me, the Blues Crab is what the Boss Blues Driver should have been. It has that slightly overdriven tone that I think of as perfect for the blues, doesn't add any nasty artifacts or fizziness like the Blues Driver can, isn't overly thin and bright like a Blues Driver (and ever worse, the Donner Blues Drive), and doesn't have huge amounts of gain available like the Blues Driver (which is not what I look for in a blues pedal). Its just the perfect Blues Driver replacement for my money.

    Problem is that the Sweet Cream is also very nice for blues (it can do other things as well). So I am still torn (I only have room for one on this board long term). I'll keep you posted.
     
  16. StormJH1

    StormJH1 Tele-Holic

    I feel qualified enough to give some opinions on the Blues Crab because I did play one very shortly after buying a Snouse Black Box Classic (handmade Bluesbreaker clone touted as a virtual 1:1 replica), and concluded that they were probably shared 95% or more of the same sound. Basically, I thought the value and quality of the Snouse were exception, but that I could've gotten basically the same tones from the Blues Crab (and for a little less money).

    I agree whole-heartedly with about 90% of your description of the two pedals. In particular, I am totally on board with your explanation for why you prefer the Blues Crab over the BOSS Blues Driver. Keep in mind, the BOSS Blue Driver was THE pedal I lusted after in the 90's as a teenager, as bizarre as that seems in today's environment. When I had a job later in life and could finally try one out, I flipped it. I do own a $30 Screamin' Blues (Digitech circuit clone with an independent bass control), but have never found a great use for the Blues Driver circuit. The Bluesbreaker/Blue Crab, by contrast, has an amazingly smooth and organic amp-like feel. I actually tend to compare it more to the Klon as an "always on" pedal, and yes, I prefer the BB circuit over Klon/Soul Food/Bad Horse, though I do appreciate having the option.

    BUT, I think one area where the Sweet Cream and Klon variants are different from - and, arguably, superior to - the Blues Crab is the amount of output the pedal has. Original Bluesbreaker circuits were notorious for being a little weak in terms of output. Unity gain is probably around 2:00 or 3:00 on the volume knob. That actually work fine as an "always on" pedal, and I've heard people stack it with other things that boost volume after BB's in the signal chain. But I wouldn't really think to use the Blues Crab as a "booster" for that reason. In fact, I barely think of it as an "overdrive". It's almost like a tube saturator at most settings, and very good at that job.

    The Sweet Cream can be both. It has a nice smooth compression to it, and you can use it as an "always on" pedal. But it can function as a more traditional OD pedal too. Not as much gain as, say, an OCD, but kind of like a lower-gain variant of that.

    The King of Blues double pedal is also very interesting, and I liked it quite a bit. But I see conflicting reports as to what each side is doing. Some people seem to think the one on the right is a Tubescreamer, while others think it is a Klon. The OD on the left is more of a flat-EQ overdrive, good for rhythm work. It didn't have a ton of output, but sounded nice, and perhaps a little "Bluesbreaker-esque". The OD on the right did have a good output boost to it.
     
    sliberty likes this.
  17. sliberty

    sliberty Tele-Afflicted

    Mar 19, 2007
    East Brunswick, NJ
    Wow Storm, great post! This brought a lot of things together for me. A while back, I built a KOT clone. At the time, I wanted something higher gain and louder, and so I sold it. Wish I hadn't :)

    And I didn't realize that the Blues Crab was. Bluesbreaker clone. I didn't d know about the KOT but had never played thru a Bluesbreaker pedal, so it didn't mean that much to me back then.

    Now it all makes sense. I've been eyeing the Tone City KOT clone, but haven't pulled the trigger. I also found a source for a PCB for the KOT, and might just go for it.

    I don't mind the low output level on the BC as I have a booster after it, so. Can always goose the signal that way.

    So much to consider, and I am away on business :(
     
  18. StormJH1

    StormJH1 Tele-Holic

    Yep, it's definitely a Bluesbreaker clone (the pedal from the early 90's, not the amp). And I've never played a real original one either - I think they go for like 300 bucks on eBay and most of them have some part partially failing! But it's an iconic pedal that didn't get hyped the way a lot of other OD's have, perhaps because it's kind of subtle.

    And, no, the lack of additional output really isn't a problem on the BB or Blues Crab. It's really just a psychological thing of knowing you could turn it up if you wanted. But I don't view it a solo booster, and if you wanted it for that you could just stack it.

    I did pick up the King of Blues today - wasn't planning on it, but I made a trade to get an amp (Katana 100 - love it with or without pedals) and had some extra trade-in value left, so I put it towards the pedal.

    The KOB is nice - I could talk more about it later. Engine A (right side) is definitely a Tubescreamer variant of some kind - plenty of output and mids hump. The Engine B (left) side is arguably more intriguing - that's the "always on" overdrive that reminded me a bit of the Blues Crab. It actually works with the gain turned all the way down, though it colors the tone (darker) on that setting. I think I will like it, and it's somehow the only multi-switch pedal out of dozens I own, which adds to the appeal.
     
    Cliffyg62 likes this.
  19. sliberty

    sliberty Tele-Afflicted

    Mar 19, 2007
    East Brunswick, NJ
    So I ended up buying the board to build a KOT clone again. Once it comes, I'll start collecting the less common parts (I bet I have the resistors and diodes on hand as well a the foot switches, knobs, and leds, but not the caps, board mounted switches, board mounted pots, or the enclosure). This pedal will take a while but I am excited to build it and give it another try.
     
  20. sliberty

    sliberty Tele-Afflicted

    Mar 19, 2007
    East Brunswick, NJ
    What you've described about the KOB pedal matches up with what I e read about it. Even though you get the impression that it is a KOT, it's really a hybrid - one side BB, and one side TS. Makes sense except for the misleading impressions. Thanks for the info.
     
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