First Impressions: Honey Bee X Overdrive Pedal

I recently picked up a new (to me) Bearfoot FX Honey Bee X overdrive pedal.

Is this going to be the Honey Bee variant to rule them all? Will it be the Honey Bee that finally knocks my beloved Sweet Honey Overdrive (SHOD for short) off my pedal board?

Read on for my First Impressions.

What Did You Buy?

I bought a Bearfoot FX Honey Bee X overdrive pedal. I got it second hand.

The Honey Bee X is the 10th anniversary edition of the Honey Bee overdrive pedal. From what I’ve read elsewhere, it’s meant to be Bearfoot FX’s ‘ultimate’ version of the Honey Bee.

(The Honey Bee XX is the 20th anniversary edition. I understand that it’s the same circuit as this Honey Bee X pedal.)

If you’re not familiar with it, the Honey Bee overdrive is a cousin of the Mad Professor Sweet Honey Overdrive. Both circuits were designed by Bjorn Juhl, and the Honey Bee is probably the pedal he’s most famous for.

Bjorn released the Honey Bee design through Bearfoot FX in the USA (along with many of his other designs). Eventually, that partnership came to an end, and at the time of writing, Bjorn is now releasing new designs through One Control. [Bjorn has always released his own designs through the BJFe brand too. They’re incredibly rare, though; I’ve only seen one ever turn up on the second-hand market over here – Ed]

Don from Bearfoot FX has continued to release new versions of the circuits from the BJFe collaboration. I believe that the Honey Bee X is one of them (but I could be wrong).

How Is It Different From The Regular Honey Bee Overdrive Pedal?

According to Don from Bearfoot FX:

  • It has a Mids control for adding extra mids to the tone. This is the same as the C control on the Model G.
  • It has a Treble control for fine-tuning the top-end of the tone.
  • It has the extended gain range of the Uber Bee.

From another post by Don:

  • When the Nature control is fully-clockwise, it’s taken completely out of the circuit, giving me another voicing of the pedal.
  • Above 1 o’clock, the Gain control stops adding dirt, and instead adds compression & limiting.

Why Did You Buy It?

Regular readers (and by now, I suspect casual readers too!) will be aware that tweed-tone is my thing. There’s just something about amps and pedals that chase the sound of the 5e3 Deluxe and other tweed-era amps that really suits me.

The Honey Bee family of pedals is probably the most famous tweed-tone pedal family there is. With this one, I now have four different versions of the Honey Bee to enjoy.

I bought it this month because the Honey Bee X is pretty rare. I don’t think I’ve ever seen another one for sale here in the UK. I was worried that I might never see one again, if I passed up this opportunity.

How Does It Sound?

It arrived the day after the Honey Beest arrived. Going from the Honey Beest to the Honey Bee X was a bit deflating, to be honest. So much so that I actually went back to the Honey Beest for a couple of days. I’ve really taken a shine to that pedal!

The following weekend, I switched my rig on, selected the Honey Bee X … and just played without thinking about the pedal at all. For lack of a better description, the whole signal chain just faded from my awareness, and I got lost in simply playing music.

That’s exactly what my beloved Sweet Honey Overdrive does for me.

There’s a good reason that the Honey Bee X had this effect on me. When I put my beloved Mad Professor Sweet Honey overdrive (SHOD) on my pedal board for comparison, I discovered that I’d subconsciously dialled in the Honey Bee X to sound almost identical.

I guess I know what I like 🤷‍♂️

Final Thoughts

Compared to the Model G and the Honey Beest, the Honey Bee X doesn’t have the kind of tone that immediately grabs the attention. For lack of a better description, it’s a softer, gentler tone than either of those pedals.

And yet, its core sound is home for me. That’s something I can’t say about any of the other members of the Honey Bee family. So it’s a very welcome edition to my tweed-tone pedal collection.

Now I just need to get out of my comfort zone, and see if there’s a sound in the Honey Bee X that I like that isn’t the sound of my beloved SHOD!

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