Before continuing with this review, first go and listen to the Led Zeppelin’s Royal Albert Hall gig from 1970 if you have not already (even if you have, playing it on repeat will not hurt anybody). During this performance, Jimmy Page was using his custom-made Hiwatt heads and Marshall cabinets, as well as his Les Paul. The raging riffs and mind-blowing tones took over the whole ambience of the whole and captivated the ears and hearts of all the listeners. Those sounds became even more legendary after couple of decades, to the point where everybody started replicating them. Catalinbread took it way further and produced a pedal that can create extremely similar sounds. The inspiration from Jimmy Page forced the engineer team to scrutinize the features of that performance and deliver it all in the pedal form. You might be wondering how the hell they succeeded or might even be skeptical and not believe any of it. Either way, today you will be convinced in the possibilities of Catalinbread RAH as I give you all the information about the features, controls and sound of this pedal. Let’s begin!
When I said earlier that Catalinbread scrutinized every single aspect of the Royal Albert Hall performance, I was not joking. They took their time and explored the whole rig of Jimmy until they found all the constituents of his sound. The biggest component was custom-made Hiwatt head that had higher gain than usual and three-band EQ. So they replicated the whole circuitry and shrunk it into the pedal size. RAH has the exact sonic and technical capabilities as the amplifier, meaning outstanding quality and accuracy. They did also incorporate three-band passive equalizer. Its knobs are very interactive and as you alter, for instance, lower frequencies, the rest of the spectrum gets affected as well. This once again stems from the Hiwatt. What is more, RAH is extremely versatile, giving you not only Led Zeppelin vibes, but also providing you with numerous sounds to dive into. Its design is very distinctive as well, featuring grungy writings, uniform black knobs and, of course, huge painting of the hall in red and white color palette. The RAH logo does also have Zeppelin vibes, so the fans of this legendary British band will have a lot to love. The pedal employs batteries and power supplies in order to operate, and fits on any pedalboard quite easily. Yeah, this fella is steeped with ‘70s vibes but you could easily accommodate it to modern taste.
Before I dive into the pedal controls themselves, I want to mention that RAH is extremely responsive to your guitar and its controls. No matter what settings you choose on the pedal, you can easily alter them by messing with the volume knob on your guitar. This makes this stompbox even more convenient to use and puts you in full charge of your sound. But the knobs are quite accurate and responsive as well, and provide you with wide range of parameters to tweak. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s see what RAH knobs can do to your sound.
The control lay-out starts with three-band passive EQ. Treble accentuates or dials down higher frequencies, Middle boosts or cuts mid-range, while Bass defines or attenuates the bottom-end. All three knobs work together as one team and changing either of them will affect the rest. They operate exactly as the Hiwatt EQ section. Then we have Gain which intensifies your signal and brings overdrive and distortion into the game. And of course, we have Master which sets the level overall output and makes it extremely easy to achieve unity volume. The footswitch, located on the bottom of the pedal, turns the pedal on or activates the bypass mode. Catalinbread provides you with instructions for the Jimmy sounds, but you can still experiment to find that sweet spot for your unique riffs.
We have now approached the part of this article we have all been waiting for with excitement. This is where RAH undergoes the true test, since it has to perform the way it is advertised, right? Luckily, this pedal is a real beast. It knows how to treat your instrument and amplify its very characteristics. As mentioned above, it is extremely responsive to the volume knob on your guitar and cleans-up wonderfully if you roll it off. But that’s not all. RAH responds to your playing techniques and picking force as well. If you are subtle, the pedal will follow. But if you get crazy, it will crank the hell out of its capabilities and fill your existence with warmth of overdrive. This stompbox focuses on dynamics and opens up everything in your sound. It can be paired with the clean channel of your amplifier for the most Jimmy-like end-result, but it works amazing with broken up tones as well. The latter will produce heavier distortion and take you further and further from the initial overdrive. RAH can truly create Led Zeppelin mayhem and take you to those wonderful ‘70s when rock was blooming with creativity and uniqueness.
Does this pedal need anything else? Most certainly not. It basically speaks for itself as the design captivates your eyes and draws you in more and more. And once you plug RAH with your favorite amplifier, you are enveloped with girth and crunch. Whether you are affectionate about Led Zeppelin or not, this pedal will work for. And if you are, you will not be disappointed with the resemblance. Just listen to the demos and if you do not hear Jimmy Page in those tones, you have a problem, my friend. Good luck!
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