Friedman Smallbox Pedal Review
Friedman amplification is well known for their hot rodded Marshall rock tones and the Smallbox pedal lives up to the Hype! Based off of the Smallbox tube amplifier, this unit captures the sound of the amps Plexi style voice very well.
The Smallbox features some great tone shaping controls that can turn your amps clean channel into a rock machine.
Lets see what this thing can do!
Smallbox Pedal Features
First, Lets have a look at some key features of the Smallbox!
- 3 Band EQ
- Presence Control
- Small Form Factor
- Wide Range Of Gain Control
- Gain Structure Switch
- Rigid Foot Switch
- True Bypass
- Powered on 9V or 18V DC
- Analog Circuitry
- Build Quality
- Cool Plexi Sounds
- Very Close to the Amp Tone
- Amp Like 3 band EQ
- Small And Light
- Can Be used As A Boost
- Side Mounted Jacks
Smallbox Pedal External Hardware
The Smallbox is built tough just like every other Friedman product. The compact size at 1.6″ Height, 2.5″ width and 4.75″ depth is an easy fit on any pedal board especially with its light weight at .65 pounds.
The knob controls or pots, all feel very sturdy and have a bit of resistance to them which is nice. When inserting cables into the jacks, they are not tight or feel flimsy in the slightest.
The foot switch feels rigid and is easy to press, and the side toggle switch is also of good quality.
Our only complaint would be the side mounted jacks and switch as top mount have would allowed for more room on the board.
Friedman Smallbox Pedal Controls
The Smallbox has a great control scheme that allows for a great deal of tonal options. First the 3 band EQ is a nice addition with the smallbox and allows for some great tone shaping. The Friedman BE-OD did not have a mid control and so its nice to see it here on the smallbox.
The presence control is also a nice thing to see on the Friedman line of stomps and really helps to fine tune the top end when the unit is goosed.
The way the gain is set up on the pedal is really the highlight. The gain switch on the side of the device changes the gain structure. This allows you to really get what you need for rock tones and the amount of saturation that is possible. The range is very wide here!
The smallbox pedal really captures the essence of a plexi like sound and is marketed this way. We found that we were able to match a type of JCM800 tone as well and depending on the output of the pickups this would change.
The sound of your amp can also color the sound as the pedals output if powerful enough to boost it.
Input Voltage Range
The Friedman Smallbox pedal can be powered with either 9 volts or 18 volts to increase the headroom and output.
At 9 volts the pedal has less headroom and will get you a more saturated rock tone. We feel that this is where the unit should live to get the best performance out of it sound wise.
At 18 volts the device had more headroom and a less compressed distorted sound. We also found that the pedal had more output and drove the front of the amp harder like a boost.
Smallbox Distortion Sound
The smallbox stomp box is truly a great addition to any pedal board as the range of sounds it can produce are wonderful! It is quite a bit different from the Friedman pedals you may already have experience with.
The Smallbox is very organic sounding with a classic rock gain structure. It captures the essence of the smallbox amplifier incredibly well. The tones are very British flavored ranging from plexi type tones with the structure switch in one position to high crunch in the other.
This distortion pedal has quite the range and depending on your pick up output your mileage will vary.
With a single coil pickup set, you can expect JCM800 crunch sounds at max. But use it with some higher output humbuckers and it saturates quite nicely. Turn up the volume to push the amp more and the intensity increases.
Lead tones are not out of the realm of possibilities.
Friedman Smallbox Pedal Final Thoughts
This is a fun little pedal with a wide range of possibilities. The British flavor of a rocking tube amp lives in this product. I was able to get a wide range of sounds from plexi tones to thick high gain leads with different guitars and they all sounded good.
The unit is well made and can be used at different voltages which is nice if you like to play around.
I was a bit disappointed to see side mounted jacks and a switch on the side but this isn’t a deal breaker at all and more of a personal preference.
Friedman continues to make some great pedals and this is another one that will get you that great sound at a super affordable price!
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