First Impressions: Hotone SoulPress II 3-in-1 Wah / Volume / Expression Pedal

It’s Christmas, and Santa (in the form of my lovely wife Kristi) brought me a new pedal.

Is this a case of a gift that’ll live up to my expectations, or a piece of cheap tat that’ll find its way onto eBay before Easter arrives? Here are my First Impressions.

What Did You Get?

Kristi bought me a Hotone SoulPress II pedal for Christmas.

The SoulPress II is a 3-in-1 pedal. You can set it up to be a wah pedal, a volume pedal or an expression pedal.

As well as the switchable modes, it also features an adjustable Q control (which changes the width of the wah effect) and a dedicated tuner out jack.

Why Did You Ask For One For Christmas?

At the time, I didn’t have a wah pedal at all, and I could do with one.

I don’t play a lot of lead guitar (because I’m rubbish at it), but one of my Phase 1 songs does have a guitar solo on it. When I tracked the demo back in the 90s, I used the wah effect on whatever Boss multifunction pedalboard I had at the time. (Probably the Boss ME-8?)

I’ve tried a few wah pedals since then, but I didn’t care for the sound on any of them. I’m not looking to sound like Hendrix or Hammett. I want fat tones that allow me to add an extra element of expression to simple melodic lines.

Then I heard this demo by Jonathan Koh. I fell in love with the tones he got out of it.

(If you want to hear just how good any piece of gear can sound, go subscribe to Jonathan’s YouTube channel. He’s right up there with Brett Kingman and Pete Thorn for being able to make everything he demos sound great.)

Adjustable Q Is A Feature I Didn’t Know I Needed

I also need a wah pedal for rhythm work on one of my Phase 2 songs. Like the guitar solo, it’s largely single note stuff, just down on the bottom two strings.

Switching back and forth between playing the guitar solo and the rhythm work, I discovered that I prefer different Q settings for each piece:

  • For the guitar solo, I prefer the Q turned somewhere to the right (which I assume is a wider Q setting?).
  • But, for the rhythm playing, I prefer the Q turned somewhere to the left instead.

That was a surprise to me. I don’t remember the Boss wah effect having any adjustable parameters at all. (It was a long time ago, mind!)

Adjustable Sweep Is The Missing Feature I Wish It Had

Bearing in mind that I haven’t played wah much for a very long time …

I’m finding that I’m struggling a bit with the sweep of the pedal. I’m happy with the physical range of movement. I just wish the value of the wah effect at minimum sweep was higher.

Ugh. That’s a rubbish explanation. Let’s try again!

When the pedal is in wah mode, and at its minimum sweep (the back of the rocker is all the way down), the wah effect is too strong for me. At this sweep point, practically all the treble content is gone. What I hear isn’t just a dull sound, but also a big drop in overall volume, because I’m running it into overdrive pedals that largely work off the upper frequencies of the input signal.

Instead, I found myself watching the LED indicators on the side of the pedal, and trying to keep at least two of the LEDs lit at all time. I’m basically using about 50% of the available sweep movement, and especially on such a small rocker pedal, that requires a lot of fine movement that will take time to develop.

I wish that there was a control to adjust this. I’d love to have the full range of movement available while also limiting the lower range of the wah effect. That would make it the perfect wah pedal for me.

3-in-1 Functionality Will Be Useful Too

I haven’t really spent much time with the SoulPress II’s other modes. I am glad that they’re there, though, and both will get used at some point.

Kristi bought me an ebow for Christmas a few years ago. It’s a lot of fun (especially through the Mad Professor Golden Cello pedal). I’m looking forward to using the SoulPress II as a volume pedal to help shape and control that sound.

I don’t think I’ve got any pedals atm that can use an expression pedal, but I’m pretty sure that the Kemper can. I’ve already got one (so far unused!) expression pedal for that. I believe it supports two expression pedals at once. There could be some fun possibilities to be had there!

Final Thoughts

In terms of tone, this is the wah pedal that I was looking for. I’m able to get the kind of sound that I want, to help me revisit those old songs of mine.

I’m sure I’ll get used to the range of the wah sweep over time. But if Hotone ever released a SoulPress III that added a way to control the value of the wah effect at minimum sweep, I’d buy one straight away. It’s the one thing that’s stopping me feeling like my wah pedal search is over.

Or maybe I should find an old ME-8 on the second hand market and revisit its wah effect?

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