If you went on a quest to find a musician who does not love overdriven tube amplifier sounds, you would probably fail because such guitarists are as rare as hen’s teeth. That warm and sweet nature is highly appreciated till this day – we have just found easier ways of creating such tones. The most ubiquitous one is to shove a booster in front of the amplifier that is on the verge of the breakup, and there you have it, a beautiful overdrive. If you were to employ an ordinary booster, the chances are your low-end would get muddy. And that is where treble boosters come into play. Dallas Rangemaster was behind many wonderful sounds back in the day as it nearly became a secret weapon in the hands of the guitarists. It accentuated higher end to balance out the basses so that everything would be defined and clear. That renowned circuitry is now back with a different name and manufacturer, i.e. Catalinbread. Their Naga Viper is based on the same concept and can be really useful for those overdriven sounds. If that is something you want in your rig, then read this article carefully as I discuss all the features and sounds of this wonderful pedal. Let’s begin our journey and determine the reasons why this thing works so well!
Catalinbread pedals have always been distinctive and unique. There is nothing they create that will bore your existence or make you yawn. They do the exact opposite – they manufacture the devices that know how to get the job done while inspiring you to play more and more. Naga Viper is not an exception to that rule. As mentioned above, it is based on the famous circuit of Dallas Rangemaster but with brand’s own vision, of course. Though its main virtue is the capability to boost trebles, it can intensify the whole range and perform as an ordinary booster pedal. With its extensive set of controls there is hardly anything you cannot achieve here. What is more, this baby is hand-built with high quality material. Its internal parts are wired beautifully and the exterior acts as a shell that is really hard to crack. Just like with other pedals from Catalinbread, Naga Viper has an interesting design and is named after the hottest chili pepper out there. I am sure you will understand why as soon as you plug this baby in and start playing. Of course, this one has a true bypass footswitch that pops when you press it, but it is not something you cannot turn a blind eye on. The main thing is that the circuit does not suck your tone whenever you switch off the unit. This puppy can be powered with a 9V battery or 9 to 18 V adapter. The more voltage you utilize, the bigger the headroom will be and, thus, you will be able to produce cleaner sounds. As you can see, Naga Viper retains its simplicity even when providing you with countless options to work with. This is not a typical one-knob booster – it is way more than that!
Unlike the original Rangemaster, Catalinbread Naga Viper has three controls that give you more adjustable properties. Though boosters do not really need that much to work, it is always an amazing addition when you see a couple more knobs to mess around with your sound. Increased amount of encoders does not make anything more difficult or something like that. On the contrary, the simplicity is still maintained and emitting beautiful sounds is a piece of cake. After all, this fella will impress you no matter how you set it.
Three knob layout starts with Boost. It alters the output level of the pedal. It will make the whole boosting happen and strengthen the parts of your performance that you feel like lack something. It does add some color to your tone, which is a positive thing due to the authenticity it has. Heat determines how much gain is added to your signal. It can slightly dirty up your sound to make everything grainier. You might not like it with clean channel but as soon as you pair it with overdrive, you will hear the magic behind it. Last encoder here is Range that lets you choose which frequencies are boosted. To be more precise, it adjusts how much low end remains in your sound as trebles are always boosted. And of course we have a footswitch that is self-explanatory.
When it comes to the sound of Catalinbread Naga Viper things become so exciting. Since this fella is a treble boost, you can hear that high end no matter where you set the settings. It enables you to accentuate the basses without losing the upper harmonics, which can sound mesmerizing on clean or dirty channel. This baby is beautiful as a clean boost as it causes that sweet overdrive and adds a different, more pronounced character to it. Once you pair the abilities of Heat with a dirty channel or an overdrive pedal, you will basically drown in the gain and definition. This control does not add any boost but it gnarls up your signal in a way that everything seems to be steeped with girth and loudness. Naga Viper has a character that cannot be mistaken with anything else (except for the Rangemaster obviously). It is a wonderful way to open up your high end and achieve full-bodied, thick sounds.
To sum up everything said above, Catalinbread Naga Viper is one of the best treble boosters out there. It performs wonderfully as a clean boost as well and can really spice up the whole range. It can be utilized with overdriven or clean channels, depending on what you are looking for. It is not 100% transparent as it adds its own flavor to anything you plug it in with. And that works perfectly in my opinion. If you want to have something that is different from the crowd, then this might be the perfect option for you. Good luck!
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