Tone Review: Stunt Monkey's Tone Grenade

DrakeZero

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Hey, everyone got a new pedal a few days ago on trade built by our member Cheopis IV aka David Bowes. David asked if I would give his pedal a tryout and write out a review here so other members could see from a third person what this pedal is like.

So true to my word, here is a Tone Review of Stunt Monkey’s debut pedal the Tone Grenade.



Overview:



The first thing you should notice about the tone grenade is that it has a tube sticking out of it. Well that tube is a 12AU7 preamp tube, housed in a custom circular tube cage. Foremost, the cage is very nicely made, with it being made of three stainless steel poles and three circular rings, you can still have a clear view of the tube while keeping it protected from either your foot hitting it or the dumb roadie that accidentally steps on your pedalboard.

The downside to the cage is that it makes the tube harder to remove. It’s possible, but be prepared to be rocking the tube back and forward a lot to get it out with the limited space you have.

The housing of the pedal is well made and light, and more importantly it doesn’t take up a lot of real-estate on your pedal board unlike most other tube driven pedals. It is powered by a Boss style adapter port on the side that can take 9 volt supply or, if you want more headroom sound out of the pedal, a 12 volt as well, but I will explain more later in the review.

And sorry guys, but no batteries for this pedal as it requires 9V at all times to keep the preamp tube warmed up.

Also featured on the TG, is true bypass switching and fully Point to point wiring. No PCB boards here, and it was something I was happy to see.








No, there isn’t a light behind the tube, the indicator light for this pedal is under the tube so when the pedal is engaged the light shines through making the preamp tube itself a large indicator light for any users. Now how cool is that? It makes me wonder why no other pedal maker did this, and I was truly blown away by it.



The only thing I didn’t like about the appearance of the TG was the metal knobs. Whenever light is on the pedal it can produce a shine on it making the indicator line of the knob hard to see, and when in a dark area, the black knobs make it harder to do tweaking in between sets on stage. However, that’s saying a lot if my only issue with the pedal is the knobs which can easily be rectified by future builds.


Performance:

The first thing any new user of the TG needs to realize is that the pedal needs to warm up. (I know how often does that happen) The tube heater is powered by the 9V adapter at all times so even when you have the pedal off it’s still taking power from your source. The warm up time isn’t long with the 12AU7. I clocked it at 15 seconds, which was fine as my amp still needed time to warm up. The only idle issue I noticed was that the gain pot some swishing sound. This doesn’t affect the sound quality at all, but it’s something I noticed. (Yes I am being picky :p) Last thing I should note is that the TG is at it’s best at the end of your effects chain as it basically acts as an extra gain stage for your amp.


The guitars I used for this review was a Gibson Les Paul Standard with burstbucker pros, and a MJT Fender Stratocaster with sheptone AB custom pickups going into my Phaez BlackDaisy; a custom amp built with a fender blackface and a marshall hi gain type channels.

Foremost, the TG is probably one of the most transparent pedals I have ever used bar none. It allowed my amp and guitar’s natural voicing to be present and add onto the tone.

Going into a clean amp, the TG can be used for a volume booster perfect for some clean soloing on either the strat or les paul. The les paul having more of a bassy presence and the strat keeping it’s natural sparkling cleans.

With the gain at 50%, the TG adds a nice thick overdrive with some high treble flavouring. At max gain with the les paul I swore I was getting into cranked tweed territory ala rolling stones. The 12AU7 tube really gives the pedal’s sound an organic feel that you would only see out of an actual tube amp, and with putting it into a tube amp it’s like adding an extra gain stage to it.

Going into a dirty amp, the TG doesn’t color the voicing to the amp at all. What it does add is harmonics and sustain to any guitar you plug in. Perfect for the shredder or heavy rock player in all of us.

You can change the pedal’s tone structure slightly in two different ways. Instead of 9V you can run the pedal at 12V. This causes the TG to not break up as early, but also makes it more of a volume booster pedal then a overdrive pedal. The other way is to change the 12AU7 tube to a different brand.

Mine was shipped with I believe an old Phillips 12AU7 tube which gave it a nice balance between gain and clean. I did install other tubes inside and this is what I found.

1959 Raytheon 12au7 = More clean headroom and a bluesy light overdrive.

Sylvania green label 12AU7= Less headroom and thicker gain.

I did try the pedal with a 12AX7 tube, but it could never power the tube fully making me think the pedal will need more then the 9/12V it can currently handle.

I did try the pedal with the guitar rolled back, and it was alright, but I think the pedal works it’s best at 10 on the guitar vol.


Final Thoughts:

The Tone Grenade is a unique pedal to say the least. Rather then trying to be a vintage design pedal like a tube screamer or booster it has it’s own high treble tone. Not high in a bad way, but in a way that you can get some marshall harmonics, some tweed like overdrives and clear volume boosting out of once pedal. The TG’s sound is it’s own, and let me tell you it was hard to try and compare the sound of this pedal to others I have heard in my 5 years of playing guitar.

The Tone Grenade is currently only sold through stuntmonkeypedals.com at a price tag of $130. Is that a bad, fair, or great price for this?

In my opinion, it is a great price for a pedal that is hand wired and has so many uses it’s almost a steal as the cheapest hand wired pedals out in the market usually retail for $200. For me personally, the TG will be staying on my board for a while as I am finding more and more uses for it every time I switch it on.

For a debut pedal, I think David of Stunt Monkey got it right. The TG needs a few appearance tweaks, but otherwise it’s a useable and fun pedal to play with, and I look forward to more pedals coming from stunt monkeys in the future.

On a last note, I would like to thank David for sending me this Tone Grenade to review, and I hope this review will help anyone that are interested in Stunt Monkey pedals and the Tone Grenade itself.

That is the Tone Review from DZ :thumb:
 

CheopisIV

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:applause:

Dude, that's awesome! Thanks for the review, I appreciate your taking the time to do such a thorough writeup, and I want to apologize for not telling you about the cage.

An allen key will take the top row off for access :) The cage comes apart in pieces and it's all held together by threaded rods, real easy to reassemble too.

Just take out the three screws and the top plate comes off, you should have good access to the tube. If you have bigger fingers and need more room, then unthread each of the legs above the second ring. No rocking needed!!
 

gibsonguitar1988

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GREAT review DrakeZero.

Sounds like a cool pedal! I've usually never been a big fan of tubes in pedals (for a multitude of reasons I won't get in to but mainly fearing of breaking it because I can be hard on my stuff), but this pedal sounds pretty special and cool! I bet it sounds killer!

Very cool, and great review!!! :thumb:
 

Hector Arcadius

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Now that was an excellent review!:applause: Many thanks for the taking the time to write this DZ!


Indeed, for what it is, David is offering it at a steal of a price. And I truly appreciate that offering pedals at affordable and reasonable prices is one of the main goals of his business.

Can we keep fingers crossed for a soundclip, maybe?:fingersx:
 

captcoolaid

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Drake great review. I gots questions. I am looking for a 1 pedal dealio to put in front of a clean channel as a gain. will this work.
 

DrakeZero

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Drake great review. I gots questions. I am looking for a 1 pedal dealio to put in front of a clean channel as a gain. will this work.
If your expecting thick super high gain sounds, then no the TG won't do it, but if you are wanting a good volume booster/classic rock gain then I would say the TG fits the bill. It also pulls off the bluesy overdrive very nicely too.
 




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