The Live4guitar pedal is a 100% handmade overdrive pedal manufactured by Skyvox with two channels (overdrive and boost), and true bypass for the highest possible fidelity in your signal chain. The pedal has previously been given as 1st prize in our 4th competition.
The L4G pedal has the sleek yet confident physical presence of a well built machine with the Live4guitar signature flame and logo emblazoned on the face. To the touch it’s well balanced without being too heavy. The tone shaping knobs and buttons on the 3 pot footswitch are sensibly and ergonomically placed without clustering, allowing you to get right to work. The in and out jacks are placed on the rear along with a 2.1mm x 5.5mm power supply jack to be used only with a negative center pin 9 volt power supply. The pedal can also be powered through the use of a 9 volt battery. The bottom is padded with four non slip pads that also help cover the screws that hold the robust housing together.
The top side embraces four black pointer knobs with the usual all-star arsenal. Volume, Tone, Overdrive, and Boost. Sandwiched comfortably in the center of the Tone and Overdrive knobs is a Cut switch. Skyvox describes engaging the Cut switch as “Accessing the clean boost mode for both channels. You get a clean volume increase with the ability to add slight distortion via the Overdrive and Boost.” This mode can provide a huge increase in gain so it is recommended that you begin blending at lower volumes. At the bottom left is the On / Off toggle switch and to the bottom right is the Boost switch.
I tested the L4G pedal in 3 settings. First in front of a 1979 Marshall JMP Mk 2 100 watt Lead amp through Mesa Boogie oversize cabinet. Then I took it into the digital realm placing it in front of a signal chain with 2 amp simulators. LePou’s Le456 and TSE X50. Lastly, I went directly from the L4G pedal into a cabinet simulator with impulse responses. I used a Gibson Les Paul Standard with stock pickups and a Schecter Hellraiser 7 string with EMG active pickups.
This amp has a decidedly big personality that would be expected given it’s pedigree. The preamp in the JMP Mk2 ranges from a pleasant break-up to almost a sludgey thump. The L4G pedal added a very lively and focussed definition, even mildly neutralizing the sludgey low end at higher gain settings. On cleaner settings I was able to accent the natural “tubey” compression of the amp, bringing out ringing chord definition with a snappy percussion that was one of the shining moments of the experiment. With the Marshall gain at 6 o’clock and the pedal boosted with gain at about 4 o’clock and tone at high noon, I was getting crushing power chords and huge sounding leads. With the gain cranked on the JMP Mk2 and the Boost kicked in on the L4G pedal and the tone set at about 3 o’clock, I was in Black Sabbath territory.
Current tone shaping trends in the high gain community (prog, djent, extreme metal, et al), have overdrive pedals as an almost mandatory element of signal processing to tighten and boost percussive and dynamic elements of high gain amps. The same is holding true in the virtual world, so I placed the L4G pedal in front of LePou’s Le456 and TSE’s X50 sent though a mix of impulses. The impact was immediate, musical, and WAY TOO EASY! On high gain settings, just a very simple and slight overdrive setting of about 10 o’clock with the tone at about 1 o’clock produced clarity and tightness that almost makes me miss hauling stack of physical gear around. The boost was usable for adding crisp top end for leads. Boost was ultimately unnecessary for rhythm tone shaping unless going into “Doom” or experimental territory. Mostly out of curiosity, I used the overdrive in front of a clean signal on the Le456 which has a decent neutral clean tone. The results were a slight boost in mids that gave an almost vintage combo sound. The Boost gave me some great early punk and garage sounds and also some great Deep Purple-ish tones. For the high gain shaping using amp sims, I found the L4G pedal to be WAY more effective than an overdrive pedal sim or VST with tone possibilities that were formidable! I have to say, it was also much more fun to physically turn the knobs.
Pedal Alone Through Impulse
I wasn’t sure if this was a practical test of the pedal’s merit until I started reading through some forums online. People were having a good deal of success using pedals as preamps and routing straight into a DAW channel with an impulse loader. This seemed to make a good deal of sense so I placed the L4G pedal in tandem with a selection of impulses. The results were largely variable on the quality and EQ range of the impulse but I found the pedal itself to have an effective and usable tone that could be shaped, by itself, into something acceptable for a mix requiring moderate to heavy gain. I double tracked a rhythm section using the tone knob to track a darker / bass heavy track on the left and a brighter track on the right. This resulted in a decent sounding tonal range for a healthy sounding stereo spread. I’m certain that this application is not the intention of the pedal’s design, but it made a solid showing and was very easy to manipulate into something usable.
Improvements that I would like to see are in the tone knob frequency response and accessibility to the battery. The frequency knob doesn’t really come alive until after about 2 o’clock, resulting in a slight emphasis in the lower mid register that you may have to compensate for with the amp or plugin EQ. While the build quality is of a high integrity and strength, it takes some time to get inside the casing to replace the battery. I would also like to see a dedicated cavity to place the battery inside so that it doesn’t have floating room inside the chassis.
It’s difficult to label the L4G pedal a “boutique” pedal. If I had to grace it with a classification, it would be a top notch working man’s pedal. It has a strong ability to transparently enhance and boost the natural characteristics of your amp while also adding an modest to rich sounding overdrive. The result is an organic, warm, and natural sounding break-up. Used in higher gain settings, the L4G stays out of the way and subtly adds compression, focus, and articulation to the personality of the amplifier or amp sim that you’re working with. I see this pedal becoming a sonic asset to those with big sounding combo amps looking to enhance the warm grit in their tone, or someone looking to apply focus and presence to a high gain amplifier. Don’t be afraid to use this pedal in the virtual world. It’s every bit as effective inside a DAW in front of an amp sim and very satisfying to grab and tweak!
Skyvox Live4guitar overdrive pedal
Emir Hot and Muris Varajic tested Skyvox Live4guitar pedal on Guitar art expo, Belgrade 2011.
Expression on their faces after the official warning that the volume is too loud=D