Has any stompbox ever been as steeped in myth and legend as the Klon Centaur? Doubt it. Original Centaurs are extremely collectible, currently fetching around $1,500 on EBay. But for every player who drools over the prospect of obtaining this rare creature, there’s another who’s foaming at the mouth about idiots who’d pay four figures for a “glorified Tube Screamer.” When you Google “Klon Centaur,” one of the first items to appear is this memorable rant from the always entertaining Zachary of Zachary Guitars:
Here is a guitar pedal which has been around for about 10 years and stands for total Bull Shit in my opinion. The website, the presentation, the marketing, the hype, the price. Everything about it is why I hate the music business and the shockingly stupid guitar consumers. Its a mediocre and common pedal. Its your typical mild Tube Screamer- type of effect and sound. It really does not do much and is not very versatile. I found it stuffy and midrange sounding.In comparison to the great touch sensitivity, clarity, transparency and the wonderful independent Clean Boost section of the Zachary Pedal, well…there is absolutely no comparison.
For a bit of perspective, how about we just listen to the thing? Here a little video demo, followed by a few observations.
When Klon #309 came in for review at Guitar Player in 1996, I purchased it. (The review was a rave, though I don’t remember which of us wrote it. We all liked it, though.) It lived on my pedalboard for a decade, though it’s been years since I fired it up. My main reaction is that it remains a massive improvement on Tube Screamer-type overdrive, with superior dynamics, an airier, more open sound, and some of the best stompbox workmanship I’ve ever seen. It still sounds good to me.
But while the Klon hasn’t changed, the world around it has. It’s been cloned and copied countless times. Meanwhile, many boutique builders have created pedals that perform similar feats, minus the crazy prices. Sonically speaking, there’s no reason to pay over a grand for a simple overdrive like this. (And personally, I’ve grown tired of this particular distortion flavor, and these days my tastes run more to primitive germanium overdrives or rancid, over-the-top fuzzes.) But in its day, the Klon had a huge impact, and for me it will always be a Hall of Fame stompbox.