Hot Cake Guitar Pedal Is It The Ultimate Overdrive?

Crowther Audio Hot Cake Overdrive Guitar Pedal

I have recently had the pleasure of trying out the Hot Cake guitar pedal. This truly remarkable drive pedal is worth considering if you’re looking to enhance your tone.

It’s worth noting that the Crowther Audio Hotcake pedal is a hand-made product crafted in New Zealand by Paul Crowther. 

Crowther is a highly respected figure in the guitar effects world. Well known for his attention to detail and commitment to quality. He personally builds each boutique pedal from start to finish, using only the highest-quality components and materials. 

The fact that it’s hand-made adds to its appeal. It’s not just another mass-produced product with questionable build quality. Instead, it’s a unique product crafted with care and attention to detail. 

If you’re someone who appreciates the artistry and craftsmanship, it’s a great choice.

The History of the Crowther Audio Hotcake

The Hot Cake has a fascinating history. The journey began in 1976 when Paul designed a prototype for Split Enz guitarist Phil Judd to use with his Vox AC30. The prototype didn’t have a name or artwork; it was just a silver box. The design went unused until the following year, when he moved back to New Zealand. There he began making pedals for local musicians under the name “The Hot Cakes.” The first official version, the V1, featured a simple three-knob design.

In the 1980s, the design underwent changes with the release of the V3. It featured a new almond color and a “wild west” font. The circuit also underwent changes, resulting in less gain than the previous version, V2. A new switch was added for mid-lift, and an LED light for on/off was included. In 1985, “Crowther Audio” was trademarked.

In the 1990s, the V4 was released with new artwork and the addition of a DC power input. It’s unclear whether the circuit changed from the V3, but the mid-lift switch was renamed “Presence” towards the end of the decade. Dating inside the Hotcakes started in 1994.

In the 2000s, the design underwent significant changes with the introduction of several new versions. V5, V7, V8, and V9 featured a potentiometer instead of the Presence switch. Crowther also introduced three new circuits in the mid-2000s. Including the reissue of the ’77 version known as the “old circuit” (V6), the Softedge (later renamed Bluesberry), and the XLF, which retained all the bass frequencies, making it suitable for bass players.

In 2020, Paul released the updated version of the Hot Cake, V10. It featured the improved Bluesberry circuit, renamed “Cream,” and changed the two internal switches to external. It’s impressive to see the design has evolved over the years, with each version bringing something new to the table.

What Does The Hot Cake Guitar Effect Pedal Do?

Firstly, let’s talk about the technical aspects. This is an overdrive/distortion that can be used to add some grit and sustain to your sound. It features a three-knob setup, including Volume, Drive, and Presence controls. 

The Volume knob controls the overall output level, while the Drive knob adjusts the amount of gain and distortion, providing a nice fat distortion. The Presence knob is an interesting addition, as it boosts or cuts the treble frequencies in your sound.

Its unique circuit design sets it apart from other overdrive stompboxes. It is based on a modified Marshall Bluesbreaker circuit known for its creamy overdrive and mid-range punch. However, the circuit has been modified to provide even more versatility and control over your tone. The result is a pedal capable of delivering a wide range of tones, from subtle breakup fuzz to thick distortion sound.

How Does It Sound?

One of the things that impressed me the most was how it changed the tone. It has a natural and transparent sound, it doesn’t color or alter your original tone too much. Instead, it enhances and accentuates the natural tonality of your guitar and amp.

You can get a clean volume boost by increasing the level control, which leaves your guitar sound unchanged.

Setting to a low drive level can add warmth and richness to your clean tone. When the drive level is turned up, it can add grit and sustain to your lead lines.

The Presence control is also a great addition. It allows you to adjust the treble and adds some mid-range punch. Particularly useful for players who use a darker-sounding guitar or amplifier. 

For example, if you’re using a Les Paul with humbuckers and a dark-sounding amp, the Presence control adds clarity and definition to your sound. If you use a bright-sounding Stratocaster with single-coil pickups and a bright amp, the Presence control dials back the treble. Avoiding harshness in your sound.

Overdrive Effect Pedals It Compares To

In terms of which pedals it’s most similar to, it’s hard to make a direct comparison. It has a unique sound and character that sets it apart from similar stompboxes. However, it does share some similarities with the Marshall Bluesbreaker and the Ibanez Tube Screamer. 

Like the Bluesbreaker, it has a mid-range boost to help cut through a mix. Like the Tube Screamer, the Hotcake has a natural, transparent sound that enhances your guitar’s original tone.

Do We Recommend The Crowther Hotcake Overdrive Pedal?

Overall, I highly recommend the Crowther Hot Cake overdrive pedal to players looking for that fat distortion sound with a versatile, transparent pedal. 

Its unique circuit design and versatile controls make it a great addition to any pedalboard. Whether you’re playing blues, rock, or metal. 

The Hotcake is worth checking out if you’re looking for a new distortion pedal.

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