Friedman amplification is well known for its hot-rodded Marshall rock tones. The Smallbox pedal lives up to the Hype! It’s based on the Smallbox tube amplifier. And it captures the sound of the amplifier’s Plexi-style voice very well.
The Smallbox features some great tone-shaping controls. They can turn your amp’s clean channel into a rock machine.
First, let’s 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 9 or 18 Volts DC.
- Analog circuitry.
Smallbox Pedal Score
Ease of use
The smallbox stomp box is truly a great addition to any pedal board. 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 a high crunch in the other.
This distortion pedal has quite a range. But depending on your pickup 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. Check out the video below to hear the tones it can provide for you.
- 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.
The Smallbox is built tough, just like every other Friedman product. The compact size at 1.6″ high, 2.5″ width, and 4.75″ depth is an easy fit on any pedal board. Especially with its lightweight 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.
My only complaint would be the side-mounted jacks and switch. As top mount would allow for more room on the board. And the switch being on the side of the pedal makes me nervous. One wrong step and it might break off!
The Smallbox has a great control scheme that allows for a lot of tonal options. First, the 3-band EQ is a nice addition to the small box and allows for some great tone shaping. The Friedman BE-OD did not have a mid-control, so It’s nice to see it here on the small box.
The presence control is also a nice thing to see on the Friedman line of stomps. It 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. Depending on the output of the pickups, this would change.
The sound of your amp can also color the sound of the pedal’s output if powerful enough to boost it.
Input Voltage Range
The Friedman Smallbox pedal can be powered with either 9 volts or 18. This can help 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.
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. All from plexi tones to thick high-gain leads. I used 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 dealbreaker at all, and is more of a personal preference.
Friedman continues to make some great pedals. This is another one that will get you that great sound at a super affordable price!