Best Guitar Pedals Klon Clones Reviews in 2020
The Klon Centaur is perhaps one of the most famous pedals in guitar history, with several myths talking of its ‘magical’ tone. However, they are simply too rare and far too expensive for most guitarists to even dream of buying. But that shouldn’t stop you from experiencing its greatness.
When you can’t buy the original, you get the next best thing – clones. That’s why we’ve researched and compiled a list of the 6 best Klon clones available for you to get today.
Top Picks: 6 Best Klon Clone Pedals Reviews
1. Wampler Tumnus V2 Overdrive & Boost Guitar Effects Pedal – Best Overall
Controls: Gain, Treble, Volume
- Bypass: Buffered Bypass
- Power: 9V DC Power Supply
Wampler is a boutique pedal manufacturer led by Brian Wampler, a renowned pedal engineer known for making customized pedals. The Wampler Tumnus Overdrive Pedal is their take on the legendary Klon Centaur’s gold edition – built with similar circuitry and designed to produce that beautifully transparent overdrive tone.
The Tumnus features very simple controls, with just 3 knobs that control Gain, Treble, and Volume. These controls are incredibly touch-responsive; the Gain goes from a clean boost at its lowest to a thick, crunchy overdrive at its highest. The Treble lets you add or filter out the upper frequencies as desired, and the Volume knob adds some much-needed boost to the signal. The pedal is versatile and sounds fantastic in almost any setting, always adding some flair to your tone. According to Music Is Win (1):
It amplifies the excellence of whatever you have going before or after it.
Despite being a clone of the Klon Centaur, the Tumnus manages to achieve its own identity, providing a uniquely transparent crunch that goes well with almost any setup or amplifier. The pedal is very compact, so it can easily fit in any modern pedalboard (unlike the original Klon). True to the Klon, it features a buffered bypass, so it always acts as a buffer in your setup. And for those wanting even greater control, Wampler has a deluxe version with more controls as well as a 3-band EQ.
If you’re looking for the best Klon style pedal available, it’d have to be the Wampler Tumnus. Its overdrive sounds crisp and clear, adding a certain level of brilliance that most overdrives and other clones can’t, and it still retains a unique identity. It’s designed and built with very high-quality materials (like most boutique pedals are), and yet it’s an affordable way to experience the iconic Klon sound.
2. Electro-Harmonix Soul Food Distortion/Fuzz/Overdrive Pedal – Runner-Up
Controls: Volume, Drive, Treble
- Bypass: True and Buffered Bypass
- Power: 9V Power Supply or Battery
Electro-Harmonix is known for making great quality pedals, which have been featured on several other articles here due to their brilliant sound and affordable prices. The Electro-Harmonix Soul Food was designed as a clone of the famous Klon Centaur (a pedal that is simply too rare and expensive today), replicating the pedal’s legendary overdrive sound and responsiveness without having to break the bank.
The EHX Soul Food features a complex circuitry with several op-amps, but the result is simply astonishing. It truly imitates the Klon Centaur, with similar responsiveness, dynamic range, and a very open and transparent sound. The controls are the standard Volume, Treble (for tone), and Drive controls, but the Drive control is remarkably dynamic. It can go from a pure, clean boost to full-on distortion at its best. According to Shane from intheblues (2):
It’s a great pedal and does exactly what you’d hope it does at a fraction of the price.
The EHX Soul Food comes in a compact chassis that’s much smaller than the original Klon, so it can easily fit in your pedalboard. There is an option to switch between buffered bypass and true bypass, making it extremely versatile. The pedal comes with a 9V power supply included, and it can also run on 9V batteries.
If you’re looking for a great clone of the iconic Klon Centaur at a reasonable price, then you should definitely try the Electro-Harmonix Soul Food. It’s compact, affordable, and you have to try it to really believe its sound. Its transparent overdrive is dynamic and versatile, being able to fit anything from blues and jazz to rock and metal, making it our runner-up choice amongst the Klon clones.
Controls: Output, Gain, Treble
- Bypass: True or Buffered Bypass
- Power: 9V Power Supply
NUX is a very new player in the world of guitar effects pedals, but they’re already turning a lot of heads with their unique yet affordable designs. The NUX Horseman pedal is a two-in-one clone of the original Klon Centaur, featuring two modes that let you switch between the Gold mode (replicating the Gold Klon) and the Silver mode (miming the Silver Klon), providing you with great versatility.
The NUX Horseman features almost identical circuitry to the original Klon (1N34A germanium diodes), with switchable circuitry for the Gold and Silver modes. The Gold mode produces the classic, transparent, crunchy overdrive, while the Silver mode provides an extended gain range. It features an op-amp converter that drives the 9V input voltage into 18V internally for a much larger headroom and better harmonics. The controls are simple yet dynamic, with three knobs for Output, Treble, and Gain.
The pedal itself is very compact and yet robust, so it can easily fit in your pedalboard while surviving all the foot-stomping you throw at it. It features a switchable bypass between true and buffered, so you can use what suits you best based on your signal chain. It’s powered by a 9V power supply, and it features two LEDs; one for the ‘Silver’ mode and one for the bypass state. To switch the mode, you just have to hold the footswitch for a few seconds.
If you’re looking for an affordable Klon-style overdrive pedal on a tight budget, then the NUX Horseman is certainly worth looking at. It replicates iconic sounds from both the Gold and Silver editions of the Klon Centaur in a lightweight, compact stompbox. With switchable bypass as well, this is an incredibly versatile pedal that can suit a variety of players.
Controls: Output, Gain, Treble
- Bypass: Buffered Bypass
- Power: 9V Power Supply
J. Rockett AD is a guitar effects pedal company founded by session musicians aiming to create better and more player-centric pedals for everyone. The JRAD Archer series was designed to emulate the pristine and transparent overdrive tones of the Klon Centaur. The Archer Ikon is based on the ‘Gold’ Klon Centaur, with similar circuitry (germanium diodes) and design.
The Rockett Archer Ikon features 3 simple knobs that control Output, Gain, and Treble. These knobs are incredibly responsive and dynamic, and can achieve a wide range of boost and overdrive tones. At minimum gain, the Archer acts just like a clean boost, and at its max, it produces a fat yet transparent overdrive. Sonically, it does reproduce the characteristics of the Klon Centaur very well, with a lot of versatility in its range of tones.
The Archer features an internal charge pump that increases the operating voltage from 9V to 18V, resulting in a large headroom. The pedal itself is encased in a smooth, golden chassis that looks gorgeous and could easily survive rough travel. On the plus side, Rockett’s pedal design allows you to easily replace the footswitch with a new one without too much hassle. True to the original Klon, it features a buffered bypass that’s sure to add some grit to your guitar tone.
The J. Rockett Archer Ikon offers another take at the legendary and iconic Klon tone. Its overdrive is transparent yet crisp, and it’s versatile in its sonic potential. The Archer comes in both a Silver and Gold version, with slightly different circuitry and sound, so you can choose the one that sounds best to you.
MXR, a Dunlop brand, makes some of the highest quality analog and digital effects pedals with incredible sounds and affordability. The MXR Sugar Drive is their effort to recreate the classic Klon Centaur, but instead of simply being a clone, it’s designed to offer a unique take on that transparent overdrive tone.
The Sugar Drive features a simplistic design with only 3 control knobs for Tone, Volume, and Drive. Much like the Klon, they are very responsive and versatile, going from a clean boost to thick overdrive. The Drive knob acts like a ‘blend’ knob, as it mixes your dry signal with the pedal’s overdrive for a classic tube-amp feel. Overall, it produces smooth highs, tight mids, and crisp lows.
The pedal is powered by a 9V power supply, but it features a voltage-doubler circuit that increases the input voltage from 9V to 18V (similar to the original), thus providing a larger headroom. There’s a side-mounted toggle switch that lets you switch between buffered bypass or true analog bypass based on your requirements. The pedal itself features the classic MXR design and is very pedalboard-friendly.
If you’re looking for an overdrive pedal that’s inspired by the Klon Centaur, but also retains the authentic MXR feel to it that so many guitarists love, then you should certainly give the Sugar Drive a whirl. It’s compact, provides a switchable bypass, features a larger headroom for those upper transients, and, most of all, it just sounds great with any setup.
Controls: Output, Treble, Gain
- Bypass: True Bypass
- Power: 9V Power Supply or Battery
Way Huge is another Dunlop brand, focused on making designer pedals that produce exotic and new soundscapes. Their newest release, the Way Huge Smalls Conspiracy Theory, aptly named, is designed to provide the ‘mystical’ sounds of the famed Klon Centaur in a compact, pedalboard-friendly design.
The Conspiracy Theory features 3 control knobs that control Gain, Output, and Treble. These controls are very dynamic, providing you with a large range of tonalities in different settings. The gain range is very sensitive, going from boosted leads to overdriven tube-style crunchiness. It enhances the harmonic content of your tone, resulting in a sweeter, full-bodied tone while maintaining the amp’s natural character.
In terms of design, the Way Huge Conspiracy Theory features a golden chassis reminiscent of the Klon, and is quite compact (contrary to its name), so it can easily fit in most pedalboards. It’s powered by a 9V power supply or batteries, and features a low-current design, so it can easily stack with other pedals. It comes with true analog bypass, which is uncommon amongst Klon clones, and so it won’t affect your tone when disengaged.
The Way Huge Smalls Conspiracy Theory may be the last Klon Centaur clone on this list, but it’s definitely one that’s worth looking at. It offers a smooth, full-bodied tone with rich harmonic content with great sustain and crunch. With a gorgeously compact design and true bypass switching, it’s a valid contender against the best overdrive pedals.
Buying Guide: How To Pick The Best Klon Clone For You
If you’re still confused about which ‘Klone pedal’ to buy, then you should consider these important specifications first so that you make the right choice.
Each of the Klone pedals on this list, though designed on the Klon Centaur, possess a slightly unique sound to them. They are made with slightly different circuitries and components, and some are designed to be more versatile than others. In fact, the ‘myths’ regarding the Klon Centaurs are often overstated (as said by Bill Finnegan himself), with many people claiming their sound to be ‘magical’. However, guitar tone is always a personal preference, so what may sound magical to others may not be so for you.
It’s recommended to try these overdrive pedals in conjunction with other pedals in your pedalboard to see how they all shape your tone.
We recommend trying out these pedals by going to a local store with your own guitar to see how it really affects your tone. But if that’s not possible, you can always check out Youtube demos and other videos on the internet for comparison.
Controls And Power Requirements
Most Klon clones, similar to the original, feature a simple design with only 3 knobs for Gain, Treble, and Volume. However, the touch-responsiveness, gain-range, and versatility of these knobs differ from pedal to pedal and hence their sound can vary a lot as well. The NUX Horseman is the only pedal that features switchable modes for both the ‘Gold’ and ‘Silver’ Klon Centaurs.
Some of the Klone pedals require 9V power supplies, while some can also function on batteries. If portability is a major concern for you, you should pick a pedal that can run on batteries as well.
Since the original Klon Centaur had a buffered bypass, most Klon clones also feature buffered bypass to imitate that tone. However, in many circumstances, a true bypass may be more desirable since it won’t affect your tone negatively in any way (3).
With true bypass, your guitar signal is routed directly through the pedal circuitry without any alteration whatsoever, hence preserving its integrity.
Depending on your pedalboard setup, it might be more beneficial to have a buffered bypass (for longer signal chains), or a true analog bypass (for shorter chains). Hence, you should consider the type of bypass of the overdrive pedal before purchasing it.
The Klon Centaur is so good and well-regarded because it has a unique, transparent overdrive sound not found in most other pedals. It works well with most amplifiers and setups, and grants more sparkle and clarity to your tone. However, it is also largely hyped beyond reason, as most of the clone pedals replicate its characteristics very accurately.
The Klon Centaur was used by many famous guitarists such as Jeff Beck, Mark Tremonti, Joe Perry, James Hetfield, John Mayer, and many others. This is part of the reason for the large hype surrounding the Centaur. Klon started manufacturing the KTR to keep up with the hype and huge demand.
No, the Klon KTR is not being made anymore. It went out of production a few years ago, as Bill Finnegan has stated that it was very labor-intensive and time-consuming. It may be produced again, but for now, the only way to get an original KTR is to buy a used model.
Klon pedals are so expensive today because of their rarity and the ‘mythical’ hype surrounding them. The original Klon Centaur cost $225 when it came out, but only a few thousand models were built. Today, the original ones go for thousands of dollars as they were very hard to find, hence resulting in the production of so many ‘klones’.
- Wampler Tumnus – Epic Review. Retrieved from: https://youtu.be/p9hhKjCmqdo?t=200
- Electro-Harmonix Soul Food Pedal. Retrieved from: https://youtu.be/gunQ4Rs_Hp0?t=342
- What are the Differences Between Buffered and True Bypass Pedals? Retrieved from: https://www.sweetwater.com/insync/what-are-the-differences-between-buffered-and-true-bypass-pedals