Sunday February 26, 2012
 

Lovepedal Kanji Eternity Review

Lovepedal Kanji Eternity Pedal

Lovepedal Kanji Eternity Pedal

The Lovepedal Kanji Eternity ($179) is an Ibanez Tube Screamer style boutique stompbox known not only for its distinctive tone but for its mysterious aura. Possibly fashioned by an “unknown monk that lives high in the mountains” its circuits are at least designed by Sean Michael’s founder of Lovepedal.

There are two versions of the Kanji Eternity floating around. The one with dark brown knobs is the latest version while the old lighter tan knob version is now a collectable. There are also a few pedals past and present that make up the Lovepedal Kanji collection:

  • Lovepedal Kanji Eternity – the normal beige Kanji. While not an actual production model, Lovepedal does do a run of them every now and then and you can grab them online from the PGS website.
  • Lovepedal Kanji Classic Distortion – a red Kanji with tan knobs designed to be stacked with the Kanji Eternity. Not currently in production, damn you, (see the PGS demo below).
  • Lovepedal Kanji 9 - is a black pedal that has two 3-Way Toggles for changing diode clipping stages.
  • Lovepedal Eternity Burst - Hand painted, hand wired, socketed IC chip for tone tweakers. Not in production.
  • Lovepedal Eternity E6 - featuring smoother compression, more gain, and a slight shift in the tone knob frequencies. Not in production.
  • Lovepedal Eternity Fusethis is the actual current production model. It has a socketed IC so you can swap out different ICs and a treble boost instead of a normal tone control. Comes in a chrome case.

Confused? Yeah same. Just know that the Lovepedal Eternity Fuse is the only version available from the Lovepedal’s site but the rest can be found anywhere from eBay to online stores.

Ease of Use

In true enigmatic style the knobs are completely unlabelled, there’s not even a Lovepedal logo let alone a model number.  The only thing “readable” is the Japanese or Chinese Kanji character for “Love” in metallic gold paint. However it’s not rocket science and the three knobs Level, Glass and Drive are easy to get to grips with. It only takes a few knob tweaks to find the sweet spot. The Level and Drive knobs are pretty much self explanatory, though the Glass knob acts like a subtle treble boost. Turning the Glass knob all the way to 5 o’clock isn’t all that harsh, even with single coil pickups. Apart from that everything is fairly simplistic. Lastly the Footswitch button is really easy to turn on or off; I’d wish all boutique makers would use this type of switch.

Sound

This pedal can sing all day long. There is a sweet light overdrive tone that’s simply not found on other pedals. You’ll hear a mid range hump “awww” vowel sound that adds warmth and character to your playing. It’s not totally transparent though. As a boost the tones are warm and rounded. Dial in a nice SRV or Eric Johnson blues clean tone with mild boost. Crank the Kanji a bit more and the overdriven tones are lush and creamy, with a little bit of harmonics. The Kanji goes from a scorching Clapton solo to a Slash style smooth sustain. That kinda make sense since Richard Fortus, the new Guns N' Roses lead guitarist is an exponent of the newer Eternity Fuse.

Lovepedal Kanji Eternity Side

Lovepedal Kanji Eternity Side


With humbuckers the Kanji has a great big fat voice. A PAF Pro you get some warm vintage rock sounds. But with Fender single coils its pure magic. That vowel sounding mid hump gets more prominent. You just don’t get the same tone from the split humbucker and single coils (using an Ibanez RG1570) either. It’s just much better with true Stratocaster pickups. My favourite position for this pedal is the Strat’s neck and middle pickups – it sits somewhere between a Knopfler and Gilmore type voicing.

If you want some extra growl the Kanji Eternity was designed to be stacked. And going by the PGS video, stacking it with a Lovepedal Kanji Classic Distortion pretty much equals tone heaven... at least for now.

I compared this side by side to the very popular DigiTech Bad Monkey. It’s closer than I thought though the Kanji nevertheless still takes the win. However the Lovepedal Kanji and DigiTech Bad Monkey are best of friends, stack the BM behind the Kanji and the sound is amazing. The Bad Monkey adds some growl while the Kanji gives it the mid range hump at the top end. It may even sound better with another Lovepedal but I’ve yet to try that.

This stompbox was probably intended for rock and blues but believe it or not it can get away with doing metal, obviously stacked with a heavy overdrive pedal. It actually has an Yngwie type tone and makes those speed picking quacks come alive. Maybe it’s the way the pedal responds to a Fender Stratocaster’s in the first place.

Construction

The paint job is pretty unique with a beige gloss finish topped off with a gold Kanji character. Sadly the gold paint on mine is showing signs of wear from stomping on it too much but that’s just how it is. The case is clearly not as tough as a mass produced pedal and will get scratched easily. There are also no rubber feet at the bottom of the case so the pedal may get scratched if on a hard floor. Treat it nice. It deserves it.

Lovepedal Kanji Eternity Internals

Lovepedal Kanji Eternity Internals



As you’d expect from a boutique pedal of this calibre the Kanji is True Bypass. Even Ibanez Tube Screamers aren’t True Bypass and you’d need to go to at least a Maxon to avoid tone suckage. But being a boutique pedal, also means getting access to the battery compartment requires the removal of 4 screws. That’s always the trade off!

The pedal comes in an unassuming plain white box. The only instructions given is a letter of support also asking for a review in Harmony Central. No problem Sean but not even Google can find anything on HC anymore!

Summary

The Kanji Eternity is up there with the most coveted of Tube Screamer pedals including the Maxon Overdrive, Fulltone OCD, Crowther Hot Cake to name a few. Shaolin Temples and mystic monks’ aside the Kanji takes tube screaming to a whole new level. The Lovepedal Kanji Eternity indeed comes from the Church of Tone!

Pros

  • Awesome mid hump tone
  • Designed to be stacked with other overdrive pedals

Cons

  • May not have enough growl for some

 

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