Positive Grid Clone Drive pedal is available under the Drive effect group and is inspired by the mythic Klon Centaur pedal.
The Klon Centaur is an overdrive pedal manufactured by American engineer Bill Finnegan between 1994 and 2008. Finnegan hoped to create a pedal that would recreate the harmonically rich distortion of a guitar amplifier at a high volume.
Finnegan struggled to meet demand, and used units sold for inflated prices. Finnegan discontinued it in 2008 and redesigned it as the Klon KTR, which would be simpler to manufacture by contracted firms. The Centaur has inspired numerous clones by different manufacturers.
In the 1990s, American engineer Bill Finnegan sought an overdrive pedal that would recreate the harmonically rich distortion of a guitar amplifier at a high volume. He wanted a "big, open" sound, with a "hint of tube clipping", that would not sound like a pedal was being used. He experimented with the Ibanez Tube Screamer, but was not satisfied.
With electrical engineer friends, including MIT graduate Fred Fenning, Finnegan developed prototype pedals in his spare time over four and a half years. After extensive experimentation, he selected germanium diodes for the circuit, and purchased as many as he could afford. The components are coated in epoxy resin to make it harder for imitators to replicate it.
Finnegan launched the Klon Centaur in late 1994. He was overwhelmed by demand, and worked long hours building, testing, and shipping them himself. Every part of the pedal, including its cast enclosure, knobs and pots, was custom crafted. He built around 8,000 in total over 15 years in his home.
As it took Finnegan 12 to 14 weeks to fulfil each order, used Centaur pedals sold for inflated prices; this placed more stress on Finnegan to meet demand. Finnegan said his profit margin was "not very sensible", and found it difficult to hire employees and expand the business in Boston, with prohibitively expensive commercial space.
In 2008, Finnegan decided the situation was unsustainable and discontinued the Centaur. In 2014, Finnegan said he still builds Centaurs for a close friend, a single mother who needs financial support, to sell on eBay. He has declined large private offers to build Centaurs. As of 2019, used Centaurs were selling for between $1,900 and $2,500 USD.
Finnegan redesigned the Centaur as the Klon KTR. His goal was to create a straightforward design that could be built by a contracted manufacturing firm and would be easy to repair, among other considerations, while preserving the Centaur sound.
The Klon Centaur has been used by guitarists including Jeff Beck, John Mayer, Joe Perry, Nels Cline and Matt Schofield. Finnegan said the pedal attracted a wide spectrum of guitarists, including baby boomers, younger indie rock musicians, and experimental musicians. Guitarists praised the clear, uncolored tone of the boosted signal.
Nels Cline of Wilco said, describing his Klon: "It's an amp in a box. No more worries in the world of 'amp du jour' about overdrive tone. It will be OK. The Centaur will take care of it." Thaddeus Hogarth, a guitar professor at Berklee College of Music, describes the tone of the Klon as "dynamic...[it] works in combination with your guitar sound..."
According to Guitar.com, which named the Centaur one of the greatest effect pedals of all time, "the Klon Centaur is either the greatest, most useful overdrive ever made, or the worst example of guitarists losing all sense of perspective about how much good tone should cost".
The Centaur has inspired numerous clones by different manufacturers. Finnegan expressed skepticism that they could completely replicate the sound, due to factors including the rarity of the Centaur's germanium diodes. He was critical of the clones, feeling they damaged his product's reputation, and that clones disincentivize engineers from creating innovative new products.
- "Builder Profile: Klon's Bill Finnegan". Premier Guitar, West Warren, January 21, 2014.
- "The top 20 effects of all time". Guitar.com | All Things Guitar. 2019-03-04. Retrieved 2021-08-28.
- Guitar World Presents 200 Stompbox Reviews. Harris Publications. 1 June 2014. pp. 27–. ISBN 978-1-4803-9847-4.
- "Best Effects Pedals 2014: SonicState Gear Of The Year Awards". Amped 30-Dec-14
- "the Cult of Klon". By Phillip Dodge Tone Report, January 23, 2014
- Mitch Gallagher (14 May 2014). Guitar Tone: Pursuing the Ultimate Guitar Sound. Course Technology. pp. 271–. ISBN 978-1-4354-5621-1.
- "Guitar Pedals". Austin Chronicle, Tim Stegall, February 6, 2015
- Hogarth, Thaddeus. "The Klon Centaur Phenomenon". Berklee Online. Berklee Online. Retrieved December 3, 2015.
How to Use a Klon Centaur
The Klon Centaur is a transparent overdrive. It means that it doesn’t change the color of your tone but enhance it.
The most popular way to use a Klon Centaur is as a clean booster. A booster thickens your sound and makes the signal fatter and stronger. This is how tube amps can produce the warmth that makes them so popular.
Set up a clean tone on your amp and experiment with the pedal. Start off with a low drive level, then gradually build the gain up as you play. You’ll learn how the pedal changes as you add in more gain.
Set your amp to the point where it’s on the verge of breaking up, then use the pedal to push the amp into overdrive. This is the most common way of using a transparent overdrive pedal.
Another way people use a Klon Centaur is to stack it with other drive pedals. You can add in the Centaur when you want your tone to have a bit more sparkle or boost. The most common use is for lead sections.