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METAL by Hagerman Amps (pedal demo using FM3)

Hagerman is a solid pedal-builder/engineer, and often producing unique voicings when compared to its rivals. Its METAL pedal is no exception, although not a ‘modern’ hi-gain type pedal in the modern sense – rather, METAL is described as a distortion/fuzz, and that aspect comes through loud and clear. When pumped into a clean channel, the result is a thick and heavy fuzz, which I associate with Doom and Sludge Metal. Certainly, it sounds akin to vintage fuzz metal from the late 60s and early 70s Psychedelia/Black Sabbath era, but its rich fullness does provide a modern spin to the genre and sound, so that the tone is as much distortion as it is fuzz. When mixed into a hi-gain channel, the original tone becomes more robust and massive – the grain thicker and more pronounced. Examples of both are included in the demo video below:


Operation is simple; there is a Level and a Tone knob. There is sufficient range with the Tone, but without exaggeration. You do get more bass or treble, but without any boom or shrill. It’s easy enough to dial into the right frequency, but as you tweak the knob, it sounds as though the entire range works in nearly any circumstance and with most gear. The Level knob increases the signal upward of 40dB, but be aware that the quality or ‘effect’ coming from the METAL pedal is preset and maintains, no matter the Level. The Level merely increases the signal so that you can dial in how loud you want it. Except to demo how loud the pedal can get, I had the Level set at 9-o’clock or less for the entire demo. The way in which you adjust ‘mix’ of the METAL pedal is through the guitar’s volume, dialed back for crunch and dialed up for some saturated lead.

Sustain is very decent, whether integrated with a clean or dirty amp. The big fuzz tone coming through a clean amp hangs in the air well enough to work those slow vintage heavy rock riffs, and you get twice the sustain from your hi-gain amp for those lead solos.

Now, the inability to adjust mix through the pedal is ideal if you are a guitar volume tweaker. Having to bend down and twist knobs on a pedal often is not convenient, particularly when gigging on a dark stage. Rather, controlling the effect at one’s fingertips makes more sense, although it takes getting used to if not part of your playing technique. Second, the METAL pedal does introduce darkness into the tone, which can be countered with the pedal’s own tone knob, the guitar’s tone knob and, of course, through the amp. I prefer a tone that cuts, so that it can be heard in the mix; and so, I tend to up the treble on the pedal, guitar and on the amp (or apply a ‘bass cut’ via the amp). However, add METAL to a single-coil guitar or a trebly amp, and both will sound more full-bodied.

Reasonably priced at $119 USD, Hagerman’s METAL is true bypass and based on the LM3900 Norton (current input) amplifier chip, which makes it very unique in tone, together with very good sustain while maintaining a low noise floor. It does not have that tight and aggressive ‘modern’ or nu-metal sound, but it has that massive in-your-face distortion/fuzz tone, perfect for psychedelia and stoner rock/metal. Coupled with a hi-gain amp, and the tone literally jumps out and takes command. A final and interesting point is that METAL works on any standard adapter, ranging from 9-15V, while requiring only 6mA power draw.
 
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