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Lovetone is the name of a manufacturer of analog effect pedals in England in the 1990s. The effects were created by Vlad Naslas and Daniel Coggins, and their pedals were noted for their tongue-in-cheek names like the "Big Cheese" and the "Ring Stinger".
Most Lovetone effects replicate a popular vintage analog effect in part, but usually implement the effect in ways not previously seen in smaller so-called "stompbox" effects units. Many Lovetone units are noted for the ability to control multiple parameters of the effect through the use of low frequency oscillators (LFOs), expression pedals, or control voltage (CV)—features more commonly found in analog synthesizers and synthesizer modules. This ability to create extremely unusual sounds has made the pedals highly regarded by musicians and producers. The company was able to attract a diverse list of notable musicians and producers to use its effects, including the Beastie Boys, Metallica, Radiohead, Nellee Hooper, Chris Kimsey and Alan Moulder.
The sale of Lovetone pedals began in 1995. The four earliest designs were the "Meatball" (Envelope Filter), "Doppelganger" (Phaser/Vibrato), "Big Cheese" (Fuzz/Distortion) and "Brown Source" (Overdrive); the latter two units were made in a smaller-format housing until later reissued together in 1999 as the two-in-one "Cheese Source" (the world's first stereo-wireable fuzz box?) in the larger-format Lovetone enclosure.
A simple black plasticised aluminium sheet pedalboard and flight case were sometimes issued as extras to this "classic" four-pedal "rig".
In 1997, the "Wobulator" was introduced after an abortive first attempt in 1996 that was never manufactured. In 1998 the "Ring Stinger" Ring Modulator/Octave Fuzz) was designed and released in early 1999 along with the Cheese Source and an updated Mk 2 version of the Doppelganger, which added a few extra features to the earlier design.
Production was generally inconsistent, so after a given pedal's initial run, it might become unavailable for a period of time. The Meatball was always quite popular and available fairly consistently. Still, some models would go out of stock for long periods.
The last new Lovetone design to be introduced was the "?" Stereo analogue Flanger (a.k.a. "Flange with no Name") which was designed in early 2000 and released later that summer.
In 2001 the company announced that they would cease production of all pedals. This led to an explosion in price of existing units. After this announcement, it was common to see Lovetone pedals on the secondhand market at prices nearly double their original sale price.
In 2003 the company announced that they would again be making the Meatball and Cheese Source pedals, to be sold through Daniel Coggins's then newly formed company Dinosaural, which became the primary point of contact for Lovetone technical support and repairs until 2009.
Dan Coggins left the Lovetone business in April 2008, and ceased providing repairs or technical support for Lovetone products in January 2009. By 2012, he sold off his own set of personal Lovetone pedals to move on and concentrate on new Dinosaural designs and products for the future, these included the (now discontinued) OPA-101 Overdriven Preamp and OTC-201 Opticompressor.
Vlad Naslas is now in charge of Lovetone.
Dan Coggins resumed the servicing and repair of the old Lovetone pedals in 2013.
The Big Cheese is a fuzzbox. Its controls are:
- "Curds" (Gain)
- "Whey" (Volume)
- "Hog/Bee" (Tone)
It also has a tone selector switch, with four different settings:
- Off (tone bypass)
- 1 (mid-scoop)
- 2 (mid-boost)
- "Swiss" (gated)
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Notable musicians who have used the Big Cheese include:
- The Edge of U2 (can be heard on "Discothèque")
- Nick Wheeler of The All-American Rejects
- Colin Greenwood of Radiohead (can be heard on "The National Anthem" and "Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box", only when played live)
- J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr.
- Jeff Tweedy of Wilco (can be heard on the live version "At Least That's What You Said". Contrary to popular opinion, the studio version was recorded using a small 1x12 Supro amp)
- Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin
- Brian Molko of Placebo
- Bob Rock
- Gary Moore of Thin Lizzy
- Stephen Malkmus of Pavement
- Bootsy Collins
- Tim Bran of Dreadzone
- Billy Duffy of The Cult
- Nick Fyffe
- Larry Graham
- Steve Hackett of Genesis
- Ernie Isley
- Danny Kortchmar
- Johnny Marr
- Nick McCabe
- Will Sergeant
- Nikki Sixx of Mötley Crüe and Sixx:A.M.
- Matthew Sweet
- Doug Wimbish
- Justin Chancellor of Tool
- Jon Foreman of Switchfoot
The Lovetone web site describes the Meatball as "an amazing envelope follower/triggered filter". The effects produced are similar to those of wah and flanger/phaser pedals. The Meatball has two sections—the trigger section and the filter section. The trigger section has the following controls:
- "Sensitivity" - Determines the level at which triggering operates.
- "Attack" - Filter attack response
- "Decay" - Filter decay time
- "Up/Down" - A two-position switch that determines whether the filter sweeps up or down.
- "Full/half/off" - A three-position switch that determines the level of the bandwidth. Half the bandwidth affects only higher frequencies, while the off position turns off the trigger section, allowing the Meatball to be used as a static-tone filter.
The filter section has the following controls:
- "Colour" - Filter resonance
- "Intensity" - Filter depth
- "Blend" - Ratio of dry to wet signal
- "Frequency range" - A four-position switch that determines the range of the frequency, from low to high.
- "Filter selection" - A three-position switch that determines the level of the bandwidth, between low-pass, band-pass, and high-pass fiter.
It has an effects loop, where external effects could be placed after the trigger section but before the filter section. It also has two jacks for passive volume pedals to control the decay and the intensity. It was reissued by Dinosaural from 2003 to 2007.
The Meatball was used by Kirk Hammett for the Wah like sound in the opening riff of "I Disappear".
- Brown Source - overdrive
- Doppleganger - dual LFO phaser/vibrato
- Wobulator - dual LFO tremolo and stereo panner
- Ring Stinger - ring modulator, octave fuzz, simple analog synthesizer
- ? (Flange with No Name) - stereo flanger, multi-function time/stereo modulation effect, simple analog synthesizer
- Cheese Source - combination of the Big Cheese and Brown Source in one unit