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December 10, 2019
Gear Review: Hartman OC44 Germanium Treble Boost PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 06 December 2007 11:06
hartmantrebleboost.jpgBy Ken Volpe - Guitar Jam Daily
In the world of hand-made boutique guitar pedals there are a variety of factors that make them stand out. For instance, superior build quality and hand picked components are the primary reasons for what separates them from a mass produced pedal. Another reason of even greater importance is the "ear" of the pedal builder. In other words, the designer needs to have the instinct to utilize components to get the sound that they are looking for. Actually, it's the sound that their future customers are looking for.

This is a whole new world we are living in. Ten years ago, there were only a handful of builders that were making custom pedals; today there are hundreds. There are many reasons why the boutique market for pedals, amps, and guitars have exploded. But that is a massive topic for another day. The Internet plays a tremendous role in the success of many of these small pedal companies. Potential customers can go on-line to view, to listen and to discuss the vast varieties of pedals to their heart's content.

In my opinion, Theo Hartman has created a line of pedals that sits at the top of the heap. The OC44 Germanium Treble Boost is the most recent candidate that I have been playing. The blend control is a thing of beauty. It can be as subtle or varied as needed. I think the main thing about the OC44 that is great is the fact that is doesn't try to do more than it was meant to do.

It is important when testing new gear not to have too many variables; hence my choice in this case was to use just one guitar. The guitar I used was a Baker Robben Ford model with Seymour Duncan pick-ups. The first amp I used for testing was a Bruno Cowtipper 35 amp. FYI: The CT35 is in the Black Face Fender school. I ran the OC44 at 9 o'clock and I was able to dig in on the bridge pick-up and get a nice low gain fuzz tone. This tone really worked well when I was playing some early Clapton tunes. Next, I switched to the neck pick-up; activated the coil splitter on my guitar while backing off on my guitar's volume control and I was able to achieve a John Scofield type tone. I then turned the OC44 up to 3 o'clock and it made my Bruno amp sound like a cranked Vox. BTW, I was still able to maintain much of the dynamic qualities from my amp.

The next amp that I plugged into was my Bludotone Bludo-Drive. It is a spot on match to the infamous Dumble ODS. With the OC44 turned up it completely changed the character of this amp. Much of the smoothness that this amp is known for was replaced with an aggressive upper mid-range tone. It also made my tone seem a bit out of phase, which was very cool in that application. It gave me an extra sound with my amp that I would have never been able to achieve without the OC44.

The OC44 also contains a frequency selection toggle switch that allows the pedals boost region to be shifted down into the mid-range. This comes in handy for instruments and amplifiers that are already pretty bright.

In conclusion, I'd say that Theo Hartman has achieved what he set out to do with this pedal. You need to understand that when you say the word Germanium that it can equate to heavy coloration. Germanium transistors are obviously the prime component that helps achieve this coloration. Not only is this technology used for guitar pedals, but also it is also heavily used in pro-audio recording gear, such as Chandler Limited designs. I found that the OC44 was best utilized with just my guitar and my amp, no other pedals in the chain. If you are looking for smooth overdrive or a straight clean boost this is not the pedal for you. As I mentioned, in most cases the OC44 is about radical alteration of timbre. Although I wouldn't use this pedal on every song, it does give me a unique voice that no other pedal can deliver.

hartman boost.jpg

 
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