First Impressions: TH Custom Effects AZABACHE Overdrive Pedal

Earlier in March, I picked up an unbranded pedal from eBay. It was sold as an AZABACHE pedal by TH Custom Effects. Does it live up to the hype of “the best sounds [sic] Fender Tweed Amp simulator I ever heard”?

Read on to find out my first impressions.

What Did You Buy?

I bought a completely unbranded pedal. The casing has no external markings whatsoever. I’m going entirely on trust that this is an AZABACHE pedal by TH Custom Effects.

TH Custom Effects sell the AZABACHE as an unfinished PCB. It’s basically a DIY kit pedal, where the builder has to provide the remaining parts and do the final assembly. That gives a lot of scope for the builder to tailor the final result, both by the values of the components that they use, and in their quality.

I don’t know if the seller on eBay built it themselves, or if they bought it pre-assembled from someone else first. They didn’t say, and I didn’t ask. I don’t think it really matters.

What Is The AZABACHE?

From what I’ve been able to find, it looks like the AZABACHE is a circuit designed by Runoffgroove. It’s aiming to be a versatile tweed-tone circuit that’s able to deliver the tone of several of Fender’s classic tweed amps.

Although it isn’t based on their earlier Professor Tweed circuit, when I read up on the history of the AZABACHE, I couldn’t help but smile. Why? Because of how it sounds.

Not A 5e3 Kind Of Sound

Usual caveat applies: I’ve never played a real tweed amp, and I don’t own one. I’m going off of the sound of the growing number of tweed-tone pedals I’ve played in the last few years.

Now that’s out the way … this pedal sounds more like a Champ or a Princeton than a Tweed Deluxe or Bassman, at least to my ears. It’s got that blackface-style top-end, it doesn’t sound very fat, and it doesn’t have much usable gain available.

While it isn’t going to compete with my beloved Mad Professor Sweet Honey Overdrive (SHOD for short), it can also do something that I wouldn’t use the SHOD for.

Made For Clean Tones And Neck Pickups …

This might just be the brightest drive pedal I’ve ever played. I’m having to turn the tone knob down on my Les Paul’s neck pickup to get it to sound nice, it’s that bright.

It’s a similar story with my Strat. And, you know what? I kinda like it.

… And For Solid State Amps

There’s a note on the bottom of the Runoffgroove page: the overall tone of this circuit is optimised for moderately bright solid state amps.

So far, I’ve been running it into my trusty Blackstar Studio 10 6L6. I’ll have to try it through my Boss Katana at some point and see how that goes.

Final Thoughts

I don’t want to say too much more about this pedal, because the final result owes as much to the choices of the builder as it does to the original circuit design. If you pick up a different one (or you make one yourself), you might well end up with a pedal that sounds different to the one I have.

The unit I’ve got is not a typical tweed-tone pedal. For me, it’s closer to a blackface clean tone, but without the weight of a Fender Deluxe Reverb.

I like the character it adds to a clean Strat neck + middle pickup setting, and that’s where it’ll probably get the most use. But will it get much use at all? That I’m not sure about.

Maybe I should try pairing it on a board with the Catalinbred Formula 5F6 sometime …?

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