As you may know, EHX just came out with a number of new pedals that are getting a lot of buzz. Among them are the Micro POG, Stereo Memory Man with Hazarai and the Stereo Electric Mistress. All three of these pedals are very cool and I considered doing a review on any one of them (and probably will in the near future) but I decided to review one of the less-hyped pedals – the Knockout Attack Equalizer. I chose to review the Knockout because I think it’s a very practical pedal that should get a little more recognition.
Out of all the new pedals EHX has released recently the Knockout probably has received the least amount of attention. I mean come on, it’s an EQ pedal – right? Who cares all that much? The Stereo Memory Man w/Hazarai is SO cool, looks SO great and does delay, looping, reverse……. While it’s true that other pedals might be sexier, the Knockout is a very practical, well thought out pedal made for the touring pro, gigging musician or even the living room player.
Here’s the scenario: you’re a gigging musician in a cover band. You need versatility as you go from song to song, but you prefer to play just one guitar for whatever reason (less gear to haul, etc). You’re playing a Les Paul and need a Strat tone for a number of songs. Enter the Knockout. The Knockout allows you to get single coil tones out of your humbucker equipped guitar and vice versa.
Unlike graphic EQ pedals (or even parametric EQ’s), the Knockout consists of three controls: Low (low pass filter), Dry (direct dry signal), High (high pass filter). The Low has a fixed cutoff frequency of 85Hz, while the High has a fixed cutoff frequency of 6.5Hz. As EHX describes the Knockout controls “may be used independently to reinforce a specific area, but their real value can be heard when all three are used together.”
As I said earlier – it’s an EQ pedal, so there’s not a ton to explain. I think the sound clips will speak more than I could ever describe.
(*note: clips 1 & 2 were played using a Gibson Les Paul Studio with Gibson 490R in the neck and 498T in the bridge position. Clips 3 & 4 were played with a Tele style guitar with Kent Armstrong Hot Tele pickups. All clips also have a section without the Knockout at the beginning to give you a reference point).
Sound clip 1: Low=0, Dry=5, High=10, both pickups. As you can hear in this clip once the Knockout is turned on the tone changes dramatically. It goes from a typical fuller/darker sounding humbucker tone to a very crisp single coil tone. You can even hear a little bit of that single coil spank that’s virtually impossible to get out of humbuckers!
Sound clip 2: Low=0, Dry=5, High=10, both pickups. The same settings as clip one, this time with a little bit of overdrive added. Again, as you can hear, the tone is changed dramatically when the Knockout is switched on.
Sound clip 3: Low=5, Dry=4, High=3, both pickups. Switching to a Tele style guitar here – two single coils.
Sound clip 4: Low=5, Dry=4, High=3, both pickups. Still on the Tele, this time some very light OD is added. You can really hear how much fuller the single coils sound once the Knockout is engaged.
The bottom line is that I find the Knockout to be a very usable and practical pedal. I will say that I’m more impressed with it on a humbucker equipped guitar than I am with it on a single coil equipped guitar. That said it does a very nice job on both types of guitars.
As EHX has made a habit of doing, they’ve taken an old idea and put a bit of a fresh twist on it. The EQ pedal isn’t exactly an exciting thing to most people, but when you get right down to it, for many people an EQ can make all the difference in the world for their set-up. Considering the quality and tonal possibilities of the Knockout, combined with a very competitive street price ($66.75) Electro-Harmonix has another great pedal in their already legendary line-up.
If you’re interested in picking one up (free shipping in the USA) check out our store page.