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What happens when Jackson Audio works with modern guitar hero Mateus Asato? The Asabi overdrive distortion pedal, of course! This unit is a very advanced analog design. It has some great control and sound capabilities. And available circuit board plug-ins can change the sound of the device for your desired play style. All without the need to buy extra pedals.
Let’s have a look at some key features of the Asabi!
- Overdrive and distortion.
- Active 3 band EQ.
- MIDI controllable.
- Replaceable plugins.
- Gain cycle feature.
- Four clipping diode presets.
- True bypass.
- Powered on 9 volts DC.
- Analog audio circuitry.
When I first had it out of the box, I must say the pedal looks very busy! There are a lot of controls on this thing. I won’t say it was overwhelming, because it’s not. But it did make me feel like I needed instructions before I could plug in and play.
The enclosure is pretty sturdy, it feels like a quality pedal. And it should for the hefty price tag. The foot switches are momentary and feel durable. Internally, there are some relays that do all the switching.
The tones I was getting immediately after connecting it to an amp were good. But I did need instructions to figure out all the switching and functions. Overall, my first impressions of the pedal were good.
Asabi Distortion Score
Ease of use
Starting with the overdrive side of the pedal. The 4 presets are great! You can start with lower overdrive and work your way up. As you do, you can really drive your amp into some great crunch tones.
The Distortion side of the unit is also loaded with some great tones! There is a lot of gain in this pedal! Even at some lower settings, it was hot-rodded tones all day long. If you know Mateus and his play style, you know what you’re getting yourself into. But I think there is more gain on tap than even he would use!
You can also push the distortion side of the device with the overdrive and have some real fun! Because both sides are true bypass, you can use either overdrive or distortion. But if you put them both on at the same time, you’re driving into some high-gain territory real quick!
And I have to say, it’s a lot of fun for some real high-gain hot-rodded JCM tone. But dependent on your guitar of choice of course. Check out this video below to get a better idea of what sounds are possible for this pedal.
- Build quality is good.
- Plugins change your sound.
- Dual overdrive and distortion.
- Active 3 band EQ.
- Small and light.
- MIDI control.
- Asabi is expensive.
The first thing you may notice is the height is taller than your average pedal. It sits at 2.72″ high, 2.68″ wide, and 4.84″ deep, but sits sturdily in height and width. The enclosure is stainless steel and weighs in at .75 lbs.
There are a couple of different types of controls on the unit, some with knobs and some without. The EQ is an active EQ, so the knobs at noon represent their neutral position. Turning left or right from the center then cuts or boosts the frequencies they control. The other three knobs do not sit neutral at noon.
The smaller potentiometers control the overdrive part of the pedal. They are familiar tube screamer-type controls. These are not active. They act like passive controls, with the farthest left being your cut-like setting.
The foot switches feel very good and are momentary switches. So when they are depressed they can serve different functions as offered by the device. The jacks are top-mounted and of good quality, which is a great feature! It’s well-made with some high-quality parts.
The EQ is a 3-band active circuit with 12 dB of cut or boost depending on which side you turn the controls to from noon. The Presence knob is also a powerful control and is like a master tone control. As you turn it up, you will notice that it controls the brightness of the pedal and its perceived gain in the top end.
The overdrive section is controlled like a tube screamer. All from the 3 smaller rotary potentiometers. The real magic is the drive presets programmed into the circuit. The overdrive can be set to one of the available 4 presets in the pedal. By using the Drive foot switch, you can select the type of overdrive you want to use. It’s a great feature!
Not only that, but you can also select the type of diode clipping sound you want from the 4 available presets. Again, the use of the distortion foot switch will allow you to set it up. Once the overdrive and distortion are set to taste, you can enable and disable them. Using the foot switches.
The Asabi is capable of different sounds by changing a board within the device. The plug-in that comes stock with the pedal according to Jackson Audio is the JCM800 high gain unit.
To try out different sounds, you can buy new modules that will support different amp sounds. These modules are actual circuits that are designed to provide all sorts of pedals. All without having to spend more.
Simply plug and play!
Another neat feature is the gain cycle feature. By pressing the foot switches together at the same time, you can increase the gain. As you increase the cycle, the distortion led will get brighter until you reach the top setting.
Once you’re at the top setting, it will start from the lowest setting again. This can be great if you’re near the top gain control setting but want to punch up your gain quickly for a lead. Easily done! Here is what you can expect of the gain cycles based on LED brightness:
- Dim LED: 25% of full gain knob range.
- Brighter LED: 50% of available gain.
- Bright LED: 75% of full range.
- Very Bright: 100% or full gain.
The Asabi is an intelligent pedal based on Jackson Audio’s own digital design. The foot switches can allow you to set levels of diode clipping throughout the unit.
Simply press and hold the foot switches to allow access to program the pedal to your favorite sound. Both overdrive and distortion can be set to taste.
There are 3 input jacks on the Asabi, one of which is for MIDI control. The unit requires a certain cable to convert DIN to TRS. To do so, once acquired, you can use CC commands to control the pedal. This can be a powerful feature if your rig is heavily MIDI-controlled. Not only can you turn the overdrive and distortion on and off, but you can scroll through the presets as you like.
It’s a great pedal, full of some really cool features and great sounds. I really dig pedals that allow you to move up in settings on the fly. The Asabi is packed with great tone at every setting, and it’s easy to use and set up. MIDI controllable could get crazy good and super versatile.
I didn’t have any plug-in modules to play around with. But would be interested to get a chance to play with some to see how different this pedal can get. But the stock plug-in sounds great and is really fun to play around with. There is a ton of gain!
I do recommend this pedal. It’s a bit on the pricey side, but it is a two-in-one unit with some great control features!