This article takes a look at Klon Clones what pedals might be suitable alternatives to the Klon Centaur, at less scarey prices
About The Centaur
The Klon Centaur guitar pedal is a highly revered pedal that was designed to give a clean and transparent boost, even at low volumes, but without the mid-range hump in the response you get with a tube screamer.
It was made for a limited amount of time and ultimately replaced with the KTR models due to production complexity.
During that time, it achieved great notoriety. Similar in some ways to the early Gibson Les Pauls, influential professional musicians started to use these pedals, demand outstripped supply and now, due to the combined excellence and scarcity of the Klon, we have recently seen 4 and 5-figure asking prices.
At this point, we must mention the very sad passing of one of the all-time greats, Jeff Beck this week. We know that Jeff was a Klon Centaur user. His style was unique and fluid, as well as being technically brilliant. In fact, it was this that got us thinking about the Centaur and how its alternatives have evolved.
Bill Finnegan, Klon’s owner, and designer, even put the following quotes on the code KTR models “the ridiculous hype that offends so many is not of my making”
Inside The Klon
The design was brand new and not an evolution or tweak of an existing commercial circuit, but a new approach to overdriving an amplifier.
It has a complex power supply giving +18 -9 which increased the pedal’s headroom. This improved the slew rate of the op-amps used, which essentially is the time they take to react to an input signal. This means for the guitarist that the pedal becomes very responsive.
The circuitry also mixes a combination of overdriven and the original dry signal to great effect.
Also, part of the mystique is the clipping diodes used. These are the components that chop the top from the pure signal to give the overdriven sound. The Centaur uses germanium diodes.
Germanium components went out of favour for a time and have been largely replaced by silicon due to its greater resilience, apart from in some applications such as this. Again, this seems like the tubes versus solid-state amplifier debate. Whilst in theory yesterday’s technology, some guitarists prefer the sound of germanium clipping diodes to silicon.
So, the question remains how do we mere mortals, who can’t afford £7,000+ for an original Centaur, get an excellent transparent boost – even at low volumes?
Centaurs are not that easy to clone as the physical circuit is covered with some type of opaque epoxy resin that makes identifying components difficult. We do know that Bill has said He believes the Centaur is difficult to clone due to the scarcity of the germanium diodes used in the circuit.
What are the alternatives?
We cannot pretend to have a few spare Centaurs lying around with which we can make direct A/B comparisons, however, there are some great transparent boost pedals currently available. Some seek to replicate the Centaur and others build on its legacy.
We do believe that pedals are part of an overall system that delivers your tone…From the way you pick the strings, the plectrum used (or not), the way your guitar and its components influence the signal, the cable used and obviously your amplifier as well.
The point being the pedal you choose is personal to you and part of your overall setup, and there is not necessarily a one size fits all best option.
Below are some Klon Centaur alternatives, and not one of them has even a 4-figure price tag!