It is not unusual for guitar pedals to have the craziest names, starting with such great legends as Big Muff and Electric Mistress and on to Fuzz War and Green Rhino. Palmer, renowned for manufacturing its own products (usually by hand) with certified German quality, has decided to pursue new paths and christened its most recent Overdrive pedal in the language of Goethe: Mutterstolz (German for ‘Mother’s Pride’). Original, isn’t it? Let’s see if the name delivers what it promises.
Design and Construction
The pedal makes a solid impression and is heavy, which attests to the perfect and robust construction of this product. An additional metal housing protects the device as well as the recessed mounted connections for guitar, amplifier or other effect devices, as well as the power supply. The device is designed for connection to a 12 V AC power supply. Since this variant is uncommon, if you want to connect your Palmer Mutterstolz pedal, you should make sure that the multi voltage distributor has a corresponding connection. The red glass incorporated into the housing surface is a nice detail: you can then observe the glowing of the tube.
An LED provides information about the bypass status (green light) or the use of the pedal (red light). After connecting the power supply, we see the heart of the unit light up: an ECC83 tube preamp. With the required voltage of 12 V and 370 mA, the Mutterstolz is a hungry beast, a 9 V battery is therefore not sufficient. Furthermore, the pedal is equipped with a True Bypass switch. Awesome! The housing is mounted on a light brown steel frame that protrudes slightly at the top and at the sides. This original design also protects the connectors on the cables at the top of the pedal and is not laterally mounted, which prevents distortion and damage. In addition, there are two holes directly under the housing for screwing the pedal onto a pedalboard and a large anti-slip pad fixed to the bottom; it does a pretty good job.
Its shiny appearance immediately catches the eye. The pedal is firmly installed and gives the impression that its components will work perfectly for years to come. The designers have retained the original character; the pedal has a base extension with two small holes, so that it can be attached onto a pedalboard without fuss. The idea is that you stack two separate U-shape metal sheets onto each other and pull the lower one forward until you have a few centimetres overhanging. What a great impact: say goodbye to Velcro and cable ties! The base of the pedal also features a thick, soft rubber plate on the underside, which is very useful to prevent accidental slipping on smooth surfaces. The circuitry of the Palmer Mutterstolz is based on a real ECC83 tube, which effectively accounts for the acoustic characteristics of the device. The pedal is controlled by four comfortable rotating potentiometer and a solid True Bypass switch.
The controllers are labelled as follows:
Destruction: degree of distortion
Dirt: Midrange boost, overtone behaviour
Color: treble blend
Mother: output volume
With the Mutterstolz, it is easy to create a typical overdrive and distorted sound. The combination of both controllers Destruction and Dirt offers a range of possibilities. The Mutterstolz goes from a light, crackling override to a fluffier and strong rancid sound if both controllers are fully turned on. The sound of the Mutterstolz seems more like an overdrive than a real distortion. It feels incredibly soft, without the much-hyped “gain by an amplifier”. In addition, the Destruction potentiometer is a bit misleading, because it resembles more Agent 86 than a Terminator. In spite of everything, this device is a great success: some may not like it, but others will appreciate the classic roughness, and the neutral, retro-like fuzz with a hum of a swarm of bees.
The sound reminded me of Cream or of songs like “Come Together” by the Beatles and “World In A Jug” from Canned Heat or to compare to a more contemporary band even if not in the same league, the Black Keys. The device offers a distorted sound with different nuances, ranging from a light saturation to solid Hard Rock. In this respect, the Dirt controller achieves great results, so that the Mutterstolz stands out from the ‘standard’ distortion pedals. Turning the controller fully on, the pedal produces a clean Overdrive sound, the strength of which can be adjusted by using the Destruction controller. Turning the Dirt controller up only slightly, you get a beautiful Blues and Crunch sound. Things get a little more intense if you increase the amount of Dirt. At maximum distortion and Dirt, we are already almost in the Fuzz department, the Mutterstolz sounds more like an amplifier, in need of a tube replacement.
A slightly scratchy distortion that some guitarists love because of its unmistakeably rough-and-ready sound, but with no worries that the amplifier is about to give up the ghost. These two sounds, light overdrive and “hoarse tube fuzz” are the two extremes that the Mutterstolz has to offer. Everything in between is doable, from an official AC/DC rhythm guitar sound to a dirty Crunch or a Lead sound with a little more Gain. By increasing the degree of distortion, we move into the realm of Blues, including all dynamic clichés, the genre has to offer.
The Palmer Mutterstolz succeeds convincingly in extending the sound, without resulting in excessive compression. By turning up the Dirt controller, the sound becomes a little more compact and generates a little more Sustain, but we are still generally in the upper Mid-Gain range. The compression behaviour is not too extreme even at higher settings. The pedal sounds airy and surprises with exceedingly good dynamic response. Even at high levels of distortion, it is still possible to control the intensity by varying your attack. The Color controller also offers very good tone control; the bandwidth is chosen so that the sound that comes out of the speakers is never unpleasantly spiky even when the controller is turned up all the way.
The Mutterstolz belongs in the middle segment of tube pedals. Here, guitarists get a solid and obviously reliable Overdrive (no fat Distortion) pedal, which is particularly good with pickups at low output and displays a distinct “Back to the Roots” personality.
Guitarrista says: We love the design and the many sound options, including good dynamic response. The pedal also stands out due to its excellent price.
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Source: guitarristaonline.es, Spain, May 2014