NEOKLON - modern take on the Klon


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The myth and scarcity of an original Klon has made it legend in the gear industry. I don’t get it… since it’s a particular flavor of drive, but has sold in recent times for upward of $5,000 USD… but that’s how musicians operate. Some are willing to pay $100k for a ’59 Les Paul that sold for $450 with a case in 1959. I get nostalgia, but would sooner have a drive that has similar tonal characteristics that have been improved upon – and for a fraction of the price.

Jim Hagerman admits that he doesn’t play much guitar besides some noodling around, but he knows electronics and sound (with electronics that delve into the high-end audiophonics industry). What he did to the Klon circuit should have people turning their heads away from the original and its clones and toward NEOKLØN.

One thing you will notice and hear with NEOKLØN, is the increased headroom. Gone is the compressed signal, which means improved picking and sound dynamics; the notes sound livelier and fuller. Now, I never played through an original Klon, but I did play through a few clones that kept as true as possible to the original circuit. Further, in that regard, I can say that NEOKLØN has an exceptional low noise floor. With both Gain and Level up full, there is a low ‘sshhhh’ sound; barely audible with complete silence and no playing.

As for the sound, there is a robustness or thickness, without being too grainy, yet it does not have that thin digital quality some overdrives possess. The best way to describe it, is that it makes the tone beefier, while bringing forward those added harmonics and details. NEOKLØN does make the base tone a touch darker sounding, rectified easily enough with the pedal’s Tone control. But whether playing a touch dirty or making your high-gain amp sound thicker and better, NEOKLØN certainly sounds different than usual overdrives or Klon clones.

NEOKLØN has gone to the next level, as Jim Hagerman revamped the circuit to retain the original characteristics, but improved upon the response at low gain. No, this is not an improved and new ‘Coke,’ in that it’s a completely different product. Rather, Jim removed the flat bandwidth response at minimum gain; and in effect, this allows for the full tonal response at low Gain levels. In fact, NEOKLØN reminds me of a Tube Screamer, in that it is highly useful with its Gain all the way down! With NEOKLØN’s Gain completely down, it produces a similar tonal response to the original Klon and with its gain around 9-10 o’clock. Generally, and with a crunch/dirty amp, I don’t have NEOKLØN’s gain past 9-o’clock (and often all the way down), and may have it around 12-noon or slightly higher for lead (although all the way down sounds good still).

NEOKLØN currently comes as a kit, which takes five-minutes to assemble. The circuit board is fully assembled and tested, and so it’s not a full build kit that requires soldering. It also requires a measly 20mA power, ideal for any pedalboard. If you’re a Klon fan, then this modern take is a must.
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