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By Chris Loeffler

Some pedals are made to be flexible and fit in as many situations as possible. Some, like the Amptweaker TightMetal Pro, could care less what some people want and prefer to turn laser-focus on catering to a specific audience and provide as much tweakability as possible within the confines of their tone of choice.

The Amptweaker TightMetal Pro is a distortion pedal designed specifically to address the needs of metal and heavy rock players. The pedal features over a dozen controls (described below) and operates at either 9v or 18v operation via a power supply or batteries. An internal switch chooses whether the pedal runs on a single battery (9v) or two batteries (18v), with 9v providing a slightly vintage sponginess and 18v adding headroom and tightness to the foundation.

 

What You Need to Know

  • Starting with the core distortion controls, the Amptweaker TightMetal Pro features Volume, Low, Mid, High, and Gain knobs. The active, three-band EQ knobs allow for incredibly precise control over the EQ and manage to cover an exaggerated amount of scoop and boost in all frequencies. The Gain control goes from light distortion to over-the-top, super saturation and focuses most of its sweep on adding sustain and additional gain stages. The Volume knob is (intuitively) the final output volume of the effect and far exceeds unity gain after noon.
  • The above description is where a typical, fully-featured distortion pedal would end, but with Amptweaker that is only laying the foundation to fine-tune the distortion characteristics to fit the individual player. An additional knob labeled Tight controls how tight or loose the distortion characteristic is, with thick, sagged gain in the lowest settings and tight, snappy response in the highest. An internal DIP switch allows even more low-end to pass through in the Tight control for dropped tunings. The Mid switch (Thrash, when activated) gives the classic “scooped-V” EQ setting and drops the mids for instant 80’s metal, while the Edge switch (Smooth, when activated) tames the treble and gives the distortion a warmer, rounder high end. The Gate switch (Chomp, when activated) is an incredibly effective noise gate that clamps excess noise down without interfering with palm mutes and the Gain switch (High, when activated) shifts the amount and structure of the gain from a vintage Marshall tone when off to a modern, full-frequency modern gain factory when on.

  • The independent boost channel of the Amptweaker TightMetal Pro is foot-switchable and has more features than a typical standalone effect pedal, let alone a “second channel”. Volume Boost and Gain Boost knobs provide the ability to dial in as much gain and volume as desired, leaving it to players to decide whether they want a clean boost, dirty boost, or full-on separate distortion box slamming the TightMetal Pro circuit. A Mid Boost switch kicks up the mids and is an effective way to make leads jump out in the mix. Additionally, the boost has an independent effects loop that is only active when the boost channel is turned on. This opens up interesting opportunities when effects like delay are in the loop, enabling players to jump from tight, scooped rhythm to a fatter solo tone with instant delay in a single stomp.
  • The Amptweaker TightMetal Pro features a universal effect loop that, depending on how the internal DIP switch is set, puts effects in the loop either before or after the distortion circuit whenever the pedal is turned on, allowing players to stack additional EQ or modulation to be activated whenever the pedal is turned on.
  • The Sidetrack effect loop is a unique feature not found on many pedals… it is an effect loop that is only on when the TightMetal Pro is off. At first this can be a bit of a head-scratcher but it starts to make a lot of sense when trying to shift from clean, modulated arpeggios to a full-on brutal assault of gain without having to do some tap-dancing.
  • While looks don’t impact tone, it is hard to talk about the TightMetal Pro without acknowledging its heft and extensive cosmetic touches; from the matte black steel roll bar protecting the knobs from errant stomps to the red LEDs that illuminate EVERY knob on the pedal, the pedal screams “metal” without being gaudy or cartoony.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Limitations

  • It’s called TightMetal… no bluesy grit to be found here!

Conclusions

When a pedal proudly boasts its intended genre-use in its name, it can be a take it or leave it affair. Players looking for heavy tones, be they the foggy fuzz of classic Sabbath or the piercing tightness of modern thrash, will find a million shades of useable gain to satisfy their darker tendencies. With no less than eight knobs, five switches, and three separate effects loops, I am hard pressed to think of a more flexible and dynamic pedal for the specific application of high gain.

 

 

Resources

Amptweaker TIghtMetal Pro Distortion Product Page (Street $300.00)

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