If you’ve been searching the web for some of the most unique guitar pedals around, chances are you have already come across the name Analogman. This Analogman King of Tone pedal review will tell you all about one of the most coveted overdrives in the music community, so much that you have to wait around 4 years to get your hands on one!
Mike Piera is responsible for the creation of this iconic brand that so many professional guitars swear by. His journey started in the ’90s when he started modifying Ibanez Tubescreamers, but he quickly started gaining a soaring reputation in the guitar community, which resulted in him expanding his team, modifying other kinds of pedals, and designing his own original products.
Some of their most iconic pedals include the King of Tone, the Beano Boost, the Sunface Fuzz, the ARDX20 Dual Delay, and the Prince of Tone. Out of all their products, the last two are the only ones that are not handmade in the USA, but they are still well above average and they won’t disappoint players looking for high quality gear.
Bottom Line Up Front
The Analogman King of Tone is a truly exceptional overdrive pedal that can find a place in anyone’s pedalboard, regardless of the genre of music they play. It is very transparent, meaning that your guitar’s natural tone will still come through, just with a little bit more compression and drive.
It works amazingly well with other pedals (overdrives, distortions and fuzzes) and it has several options and internal switches that will help you make the most out of this extraordinary product. Its only downside is the long waiting time you have to go through to get your hands on one. I’m pretty sure that I will not be parting ways with mine anytime soon!
Read all about the differences between Overdrive and Distortion.
What Is so Special about the Analogman King of Tone?
The Analogman King of Tone has become one of the most popular overdrive pedals in the world since the release of its first version in 2003.
Analogman’s founder, Mike Piera, had been modifying Tubescreamers for many well-known musicians, and when the KoT came out, many of them wanted to try it out and ended up contacting Mike to show a huge amount of praise and admiration for this iconic overdrive pedal.
From my perspective, there are several factors that come into play as I try to decipher what makes this pedal such a phenomenon. Obviously, the build quality, its sound, all the available options to choose from when ordering, and the fact that it is completely handmade in the USA are all premium ingredients for a successful pedal, but all the hype seen online also does quite a bit for the KoT’s fame.
For instance, many famous YouTubers such as Dan and Mick from That Pedal Show have praised the KoT several times, as well as others like Chris Buck, Paul Davids, Music is Win and Shnobel.
Also, if you spend just a few minutes browsing Analogman’s website, you will read many glowing comments made by some of the world’s most recognizable guitar players. As I was reading this, I couldn’t help to feel a gargantuan amount of curiosity that made me get on the waiting list as fast as I could, and I know that I’m not alone on this one!
Put all of this hype and talk aside, and the Analogman King of Tone is nothing short of an amazing pedal that I would buy again without the shadow of a doubt, I recommend it to all my guitarist friends and I strongly hope that Mike and his team can keep building these for a very long time.
Not to say that the pedal industry hasn’t come out with amazing alternatives that I might even prefer depending on the circumstances, but the King of Tone is an iconic piece of gear that I am extremely proud to own and play constantly.
Complete Specifications and Optional Features of the Analogman King of Tone
You can check the full specifications of the Analogman King of Tone below. Aside from that, you will also find the optional features that you can request when it is your turn to order the pedal.
- Pedal Type: Dual Overdrive – two separate pedals in one enclosure
- Analog/Digital: Analog
- Inputs: 1 x 1/4″
- Outputs: 1 x 1/4″
- Bypass Switching: True Bypass
- Power Source: 9V DC power supply (not included, also accepts 18V for increased headroom)
- 9V Battery Option: Yes
- Input Impedance: 1 Mega Ohm
- Current Draw: 6-10mA
- Dimensions: 4.75″ x 3.75″ x 1.5″ (Width x Length x Height)
- LEDs: Super bright red and yellow LEDs
- Others: Internal treble knobs; internal DIP switches to toggle between clean, OD and distortion modes for both sides of the pedal
Mode Toggle Switch
For an extra $50, you can request a mode toggle switch that has three positions. This switch will allow you to select between Clean, OD and Distortion modes for the red side of the pedal, instead of having to open the pedal and change this via the DIP switches. You cannot ask for this option on both sides or exclusively on the yellow side.
Personally, since I do not feel the need to change these settings, I didn’t order my King of Tone with this feature (I only asked for the higher gain on the red side and I’m very happy that I did).
If I was using a switching system like the GigRig G2 or the Boss ES-8, I would have definitely asked for my King of Tone to have four jacks instead of two. This feature is also useful if you want to try to have a pedal between both sides of the King of Tone, which can yield some interesting tones.
This feature will cost you an extra $50 if you ask for it when ordering, but it is also available as a mod for $75, in case you change your mind after receiving the pedal.
Higher Gain Sides
If you want a bit of extra gain on either side of your King of Tone (or both) you can get that for an extra $10 when you order yours. Mike actually advises everyone to get that option on the OD side of the pedal, and I think it is a great choice as well.
Since this pedal does not have a whole lot of gain, having a little extra on one of the sides gives it a bit more versatility that is always appreciated.
If you would like to have your King of Tone with buffered bypass instead of true bypass (default option) you can also ask Analogman to build your pedal with a buffer. This can be great if you have very long cables in your setup or if some of your pedals are sucking your tone.
Having a good buffer can ensure that your tone stays crisp and alive even when you have a complex setup. You can get this option for $45.
Second Output Jack
My King of Tone does not have this option, but in retrospect, I think that it would have been great to get a second output jack and the buffer option to go with it.
With this kind of configuration, I could connect my tuner pedal to the second output and not worry at all about that pedal sucking any of my precious tone.
You can also request that Analogman builds your pedal with one buffered output and an unbuffered output.
Second Power Jack
While this is not the most attractive option on the King of Tone, I can understand why some people would enjoy having a second power jack on their pedal. By having this, you can send power from the KoT to a different pedal that you already have.
You must be careful not to plug it into a pedal that has positive ground such as germanium fuzzes and other pedals (Electro-Harmonix Q-Tron comes to mind) otherwise you will damage them.
Analogman King of Tone Waiting List – Why So Long?
The fact that you now have to wait around 4 years before you are allowed to order your Analogman King of Tone is surely one of the factors that have made this pedal even more popular than it already was before.
This pedal has been around since 2003 (although the first versions were slightly different from the current V4) and it wasn’t always like this. However, several factors such as the availability of parts, changes in the Analogman team and a huge rise in popularity of this pedal caused the waiting list to skyrocket.
Even though I take no pleasure in waiting 4 years for another King of Tone (I’m already on the queue for my second one) I prefer knowing that things are like this because Analogman is passionate about building pedals just like Mike Piera did when he started the brand in the ’90s, instead of outsourcing their work and using cheaper and more convenient assembly methods that don’t translate into a better stompbox.
Pros and Cons of the Analogman King of Tone
- Dual Pedal Design
When you are buying an Analogman King of Tone, you are essentially buying two pedals in one enclosure. It has two of the same circuit, except if you request to have one of the sides with more gain, as I did. The clean boost side (yellow LED) is one of my favorite pedals of all time, due to how well it interacts with everything.
Stacking both sides fills my Fender Deluxe Reverb with life and pairing the yellow side with any of my other overdrives and fuzz pedals makes them sound dull by themselves, so I really can’t get tired of using it.
Read also: How to Find the Best Fuzz Guitar Pedals.
Even though the King of Tone does not have a huge amount of gain on tap, it can still be used in a myriad of circumstances. I generally keep the yellow side on all the time and use it to push the front end of my tube amps harder, but I also love to fine tune the EQ of my tone with the KoT.
If you think that you’d benefit from having a bit more gain, aside from requesting a higher gain side as an option when ordering, don’t forget that the King of Tone also has a few DIP switches in the interior of the enclosure that can help you find a dirtier tone more easily.
- Build Quality
This goes for the King of Tone as much as it does for every single Analogman product. Their pedals are all built-to-order, all the parts are of the highest quality, and they are all made by hand in such a way that allows people to repair them easily instead of having to ship them back to the brand (highly inconvenient for people outside the USA).
Maybe you will spend a little bit more on an Analogman pedal when you buy it, but trust me, you are not only getting a fantastic piece of gear, but you are also saving money in the long run.
- Wide Variety of Options
I have already lost count of the pedals that I have had modified by other people over the years. Sometimes you want the jacks mounted elsewhere, a different type of LED, a switch to switch the buffer on or off, among others.
With the Analogman King of Tone, you are able to choose from a generous list of options and get a pedal that you will definitely make the most out of.
- Waiting Time
Aside from the monstrous waiting list that you have to get through before you order your King of Tone, I really can’t find anything that I don’t like about this pedal. In any case, I would much rather have it this way and know that they are still being built by hand with quality components instead of finding out that they were being mass produced just for the sake of clearing the waiting list.
Other Overdrive Pedals to Check Out as Alternatives to the Analogman King of Tone
Naturally, no one wants to wait for 3 or 4 years to get their hands on an overdrive pedal, and second hand prices for the King of Tone are just too expensive for most people. I love mine to death, but I wouldn’t pay $1000 for it.
Fortunately, nowadays there are so many options on the market that sound amazing, have several options and features and are readily available at several physical and online stores. The pedals that I’m about to show you aren’t meant to be King of Tone clones, some of them have a distinct sound to them, but they are still excellent choices.
Let’s take a look at some of the most interesting options that you can find today. Even though I have an Analogman King of Tone, I still feel the urge to try out and maybe buy a few of these pedals!
Fulltone has achieved a good reputation with pedals such as the OCD, the Soulbender and the ’69 MkII Fuzz, but the Fulldrive 3 has something that none of these do, which is a dual pedal design that offers overdrive, a boost, and a wide array of tone shaping features that weren’t available on their smaller pedals.
The Fulldrive 3 has a switch that lets you run the OD into the Boost or vice-versa, different voices to choose from (classic smooth, Class-A style harmonics and symmetrical clipping) and a dynamics knob.
You can generally find the Fulltone Fulldrive 3 for a price of around $150.
- Boost Pedals Explained: What Exactly is a Boost Pedal?
- Comprehensive Fulltone OCD Guitar Pedal Review
King Tone is one of my favorite pedal brands at the moment. Unfortunately I only own the Mini Fuzz Silicon, but the Duelist has been on my wishlist for a long time. This pedal is absolutely packed with features and it is guaranteed to make you spend hours exploring its capabilities. I have only tried it for a couple of hours, but every setting that I experimented with was perfectly usable in many scenarios and I wouldn’t have any issues incorporating this pedal into my rig.
Some of the features that caught my eye the quickest were the Fat/Stock/Glass switches for each channel of the pedal, the possibility of inverting the order of each side, or even placing them in different places in your pedalboard by using TRS cables, and the astonishing build quality of the pedal.
You can’t always find it in stock, but when you can, you can expect to pay around $350 for the King Tone Duelist.
Lovepedal is responsible for building some of the most interesting boutique pedals that I have tried so far. At the moment I only own a Dover Drive and I love it to death, but I have also owned a Zendrive and one of my best friends has owned the Amp Eleven for a few years and I’m just waiting for him to sell it to me when he does not want it anymore.
The Amp Eleven is a dual overdrive featuring an OD side and an independent Boost, meaning that you can use that channel even when the overdrive side is not engaged. That side is comprised of a single knob that controls the amount of boost you want, and the OD side features controls for Level, Drive, Bass and Tone.
There are a couple of slight variations of this pedal, but they all sound organic, alive and very responsive to your picking dynamics and choice of pickups. They are a bit difficult to find now, so if you get the chance to buy one, I highly advise you to do so!
The JHS Double Barrel V4 combines two extremely popular pedals designed by JHS, the Morning Glory and the Moonshine. If you already have one of these pedals, then I wouldn’t advise getting the Double Barrel, unless you actually want to have two of the same pedal (possibly if you have more than one pedalboard).
Like many dual overdrive pedals, the Double Barrel features a switch that allows you to run the two pedals in whichever order you prefer and stack them to get gnarly lead tones. Both sides feature Volume, Drive and Tone knobs. The Moonshine also has a Clean blend knob, one of my favorite things to have on any pedal.
You can generally find the JHS Double Barrel V4 for a price of around $345.
I remember being a teenager exploring the world of pedals and discovering Pete Thorn’s demo of the Carl Martin Plexitone, a video that he uploaded in 2010. I was so blown away that I made it my personal mission to save up enough money for one, and I did. It was my favorite pedal for a very long time, and I regret that I have sold it since then.
The Plexitone is a big pedal, but it has a massive tone lurking within! It has a normal drive channel, a high gain mode and a clean 20dB boost. Aside from the Boost knob, you have controls for Level, Tone, High Gain and Crunch.
This pedal is trustworthy, well built, and extremely versatile. I did not sell it because I did not like it, but because it is a significantly bulky pedal and I wanted to switch to the smallest pedalboard I could, which motivated me to find a smaller overdrive.
You can usually find the Carl Martin Plexitone for a price of around $265.
FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions about the Analogman King of Tone
Question: How long is the waiting time to order an Analogman King of Tone?
Answer: The waiting time for the Analogman King of Tone has been significantly long for years. The best way to check who is currently at the top of the list is to check this link. As of writing this article, the waiting time is at about 4 years, so if you want to have one of these without paying a crazy amount of money on Reverb, you should probably get on the waiting list now.
Question: Is it worth waiting for the Analogman King of Tone?
Answer: Whether it is worth waiting for the KoT or not depends on what kind of overdrive pedal you are looking for. If you are searching for a pedal with a nice amount of gain, you can easily find alternatives that get crunchier with less effort. However, I love the KoT to bits because of the way it interacts with my amps and other pedals. Also, it is essentially two pedals in one enclosure, which means you can stack them to get dirtier tones.
Question: Should I get the King of Tone with a higher gain side?
Answer: Many people decide to get the red LED side of the King of Tone with more gain. Mike Piera noticed that many people were using the pedal with the gain knob dimed, and that inspired him to include this option in the KoT. You can also order it with higher gain on both sides, but personally, I like having the yellow side acting more as a clean boost.
Question: What would be a good alternative to the Analogman King of Tone?
Answer: Nowadays, there are many options on the market that also feature a dual pedal design similar to the King of Tone with similar features and others that you might also appreciate as a player. Most importantly, they are readily available in many stores instead of having a waiting list that goes on for years. I wouldn’t say there is a pedal that sounds just like the KoT, but there are loads of amazing options waiting for you to try them out.
Here are a few examples of pedals you might want to check out as a potential alternative to the Analogman King of Tone:
• Fulltone Fulldrive 3
• King Tone Duelist
• Lovepedal Amp Eleven
• JHS Double Barrel V4
• Carl Martin Plexitone
• JHS Sweet Tea
• Janis Miesnieks X
• Hudson Broadcast Dual
• Tone City King of Blues
• T-Rex Møller 2
Question: Does the Analogman King of Tone have a lot of gain?
Answer: The Analogman King of Tone is not a very gainy pedal. If you are looking for a lot of crunch or something on the edge of distortion, you are better off stacking the KoT with another pedal of yours, or choosing a different one entirely that has more gain, such as the JHS The AT or the MXR M75 Super Badass Distortion, for example. However, if you crank the gain and adjust the DIP switches accordingly, it can go into distortion territory, but it is not what this pedal does best.
Question: Is the Analogman Prince of Tone the same as the King of Tone?
Answer: The Prince of Tone was originally released in 2012 and it is the King of Tone’s smaller cousin. It does not come in a dual pedal format, and it is based on the higher gain KoT circuit that you can request as an option when ordering. This means that the default Prince of Tone already has a bit more gain than the regular KoT without the higher gain option.
Other differences include an external switch to toggle between OD, Boost and Distortion modes, an improved Distortion mode in comparison to the KoT, and new DIP switches. You can still find the treble trimpot inside the pedal just like on the KoT.
The main difference between these two is probably the fact that the PoT is built in China instead of the USA, but it still uses the same components as the KoT – only the best Japanese parts, no surface mounts and hand wired for durability, repair convenience and the best tone.
Question: Is the Analogman King of Tone handbuilt?
Answer: Analogman is one of the few companies that is still building pedals completely by hand, unlike many that outsource their work to factories that use robots and still call them handmade. The Analogman team still builds pedals just like Mike did when he started the company in the ’90s.
Nothing is mass produced, everything is made to order, there are usually several options to cater to every kind of musician, and the customer support experiences I’ve had were always delightful.
Question: Who are some of the players who use the Analogman King of Tone?
Answer: If you do a quick search, you will find that some of the world’s most recognized guitarists are huge fans of the Analogman King of Tone. Here are some of the players who love this pedal to bits:
• John Mayer
• Noel Gallagher
• John Petrucci
• Gary Clark Jr.
• J. Mascis
• Kenny Wayne Shepherd
• Trey Anastasio
• Joey Landreth
• Pete Thorn
• Jimmy Herring
• Brent Mason
Closing Considerations about the Analogman King of Tone
Analogman is undoubtedly one of the best pedal builders in the world nowadays, and buying one of his products is rarely a bad choice. The King of Tone is arguably their most popular pedal, and although waiting 3 or 4 years to order one is dreadful, it will definitely pay off in the end.
Operating it is extremely simple, it takes 9V batteries or a 9-18V power supply (higher voltage means more headroom), and if you want to adjust the sounds you’re getting out of it, there are a few internal DIP switches that will allow you to do so. Use it as a clean boost, medium overdrive, or stack both sides and crank up the level and gain for one of the gnarliest tones you have heard to this date.
Also, don’t forget about all the optional features that you can request to have in your pedal when it is your turn to order it!