"Arklight" - Custom Darklighter for Joe Hearnshaw of Killer Joules
Joe is the front-man in Sheffield three-piece Killer Joules, and former guitarist in Stonerun (along with yours truly), The Lizard Kings, and MidKnight Rider to name a few. Over the years of being in bands with Joe, I have seen more overdrives and fuzz pedals on his pedalboard than you could expect to see at NAMM - from big brands like Boss, through the big boutique names like Fulltone and Robert Keeley, right the way through to smaller British builders like MadeByMike and The Tone Gnome. It would be fair to say he's a good candidate to develop an overdrive with, and our work together led to the creation of the Darklighter.
"As anyone who has played in a LOUD band before knows all too well, you need to have mids in you sound to be heard over everyone else. This tends to be a problem if, like me, you have an inexplicable attachment to guitars with single coil pickups. We tend to get a bit drowned out by.... well... the band. Throw into the mix a nice clean Fender amp and you've got a bit of a bit of a conundrum. Solution - buy a Tubescreamer. Problem: you sound like everyone else who's ever played through a Tubescreamer, ever. Everyone knows that sound, and great as it can be in the right hands, it defeats the point of trying to stand out. I tried every variant of Tubescreamer that I could get my hands on, from the lowly to the expensive, looking for one with that something extra. So when Tom tells me, one band practice, that he's looking into designing and building pedals, it was like all my Christmases had come at once! Now after various overdrive prototypes have sat on my board, I settled on one little grey box with white splotches, red knobs and holes in the chassis."
"This pedal has been with me up and down the country. And guess what?... I no longer have to crank my amp to the point of near death (for the amp, audience and my furious bandmates). I'm sat right where I'm supposed to be in the mix. I've got my own little space. Now Tom knows all too well that if I'm not happy with an aspect of my sound, it gets changed. No fuss. The fact that this unremarkable looking OD is still my go-to OD rather speaks for itself. At first, I liked the unassuming charm of the prototype's box. That was until I say the new finishes that Tom was doing for the first official run of what was now called the Darklighter. I was like - "gotta gets me one of these!". The prototype has now been retired, after many a gig and recording session. I happy to report that its replacement sounds just as good, if not a little sweeter. I don't know what sets these pedals apart from other "screamer" style pedals, but mine certainly has more than a little MoJoe ;) "
Here is the Darklighter prototype that has been on Joe's board for the past year. A beautiful looking pedal with "ventilation holes" and a snazzy paint job. On the inside you'll find more component sockets than in any other pedal! Over several months we tweaked component values and tested the pedal in live and recorded settings to create an overdrive sound built around sitting in a band mix. The end result is an overdrive that cuts through to prevent the guitar being lost, while not overpowering the other instruments.
After months on the road and in the studio, it was time to put this prototype to bed and put a good looking pedal on Joe's board in it's place...
Onstage with Killer Joules using the prototype Darklighter