We fired up the brand new J. Rockett Audio Designs Archer Select in the studio, it’s a Klon Centaur-inspired unit with a handful of extra features.
From a look at the name, logo design, and layout of the J. Rockett Audio Designs Archer Select you’d be bang on assuming this was a Klon Clone, or as they call it in the biz, a ‘k-style overdrive’ – but with extra features to make it unique.
J. Rockett Audio Designs has been manufacturing their weighty pedals in Southern California since 2008, focussing mainly on overdrives but with offerings in the modulation, delay, reverb, tremolo and power supply worlds too.
We’re not opposed to Klons – the blues-lawyers of the world need expensive guitar pedals to buy — and the rest of us can very happily live with the universe of clones, the Klon company manufactured KTR version, and the many other variations that thrive and multiply.
We best look at the mythology of the original Klon Centaur to get a little perspective on these things, and why there’s a thriving market of clones and variations out these.
The Klon Centaur was created by Bill Finnegan in 1994, and it’s an interesting, nuanced design that took him about 4 years to perfect. You can kinda summarise it as a buffered op-amp boost with germanium diode clipping that essentially gives a sweet overdrive with some nice harmonics up the top end of the gain knob – like straight up running your guitar into a creamy tube amp at a high volume, but kinda clearer.
The scarcity of the original pedals, and the gooping of the original circuit boards all added to the mystique of the unit; you can currently buy an original gold Centaur online for up to $15,000 if you so desire. Bill’s thoughts on this are enshrined in his cheaper, easier to mass produce version, the KTR – “Kindly remember: The ridiculous hype that offends so many is not of my making.”
With the Archer Select you get a pedal that is essentially one of these original, classic Klons but you’ll notice there’s an extra knob on top of the standard Gain, Treble, and Output set up. The main difference between this and all the other units, and that’s the selectable clipping option. The Archer has 7 different types of selectable clipping diodes to really give the old tone dawgs a choice.
It starts out with the Mullard OA10 germanium diode as default, then via the Clipping switch, and through the extra footswitch you can select any of these different clipping diode arrays. Switch it off and you’re back to the Mullard, and on and you hear the different selected diode. It’s a nice way to really hear the difference between these things when you’ve got the gain cranked.
The clipping modes start with germanium diodes, through to some the 1N34a diodes like in the original Klon, onto a couple of soviet pairs, and to the finale, a pair or the red LEDs. They all make an audible difference, ‘though some are definitely more subtle than the others. We even cracked it open to take a look in the back of this thing where you can see all of the clipping diodes sitting. Cool as!
There’s also an extra jack output – this is a direct output with built in speaker simulation — and the switch above it is your ground lift to dodge any buzz issues. With this you can easily plug it straight into a recording interface and not have to think about DI-ing it to get the impedance right and it sounding proper if you so fancy that style.
The J Rockett Audio Designs Archer Select, a kinda maxi-version of the Klon Centaur with its 7 selectable clipping sections to make it stand out against a world of clones, plus a built in DI output with speaker simulation.
It’s a solidly built overdrive, this thing has a really heavy steel box that you could easily put through a windscreen, and it won’t set you back the $15K or so for either an original Klon, or the recently hyped Digitech Bad Monkey Tube Overdrive that ramped up from a $50 pedal to people fishing for $10k once the guy from JHS demonstrated how that too sounded exactly like an original Klon. And those’ve all only got a single set of diodes. Boring!
The Archer Select retails for around $520 AUD and is available from all good music stores. To find out more about the J. Rockett Audio Designs Archer Select head over to their website Rockettpedals.com