Slather on Some Sweet and Savory Sixties and Seventies Sounds

ModKitsDIY

Aclam’s Cinnamon Drive Seasons Your Tone with Classic Stack-Inspired Grind

No matter what style or genre of music you play, no matter whether you use solid state, tube or modeling amplification, no matter whether you use thirty pedals or none at all, if you’re playing an electric guitar the 1960s and 1970s loom large in how you put your tone together. The experimentation with outboard effects that began in the late 1950s took off in the Sixties and electric instrument and amplification became the hot item for birthdays, Christmas, and Hanukkah as mop-topped mods and rockers began blazing into living rooms across the world thanks to Ed Sullivan.

It’s also the period of time that can be credited with the popularization of distortion (though Link Wray’s 1958 track “Rumble” got things started) as a intentional tonal goal. The power and the glory of the very thing Leo Fender, of all people, sought to minimize came to be loved and appreciated as groups like Led Zeppelin, Hendrix, The Who, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, T. Rex, Black Sabbath, and countless other legendary crafters of the classic rock ‘n roll sound wired that grind into the DNA of popular guitar-heavy music. Drive and distortion is such a standard part of the guitarist’s tonal palette that even jazz cats like John Scofield are known for using ProCo Rats. So no matter how hard you djent on your MIDI-enabled, four-channel head, you owe some of that instinct to the musical heritage of one channel Hiwatts and Marshalls.

The Aclam Cinnamon Drive overdrive pedal, handmade in Barcelona, Spain, is a true hearkening back to those days of coily cords, big bell bottoms, and vinyl records.

When designing the Cinnamon Drive we focused on creating the closest replica of a saturated vintage amp behavior,” Marc Sospedra of Aclam recently told TheToneKing.com. “Not a particular brand or model, but the feel and dynamics you get when playing single channel amps pushed to ’10.’ Of course the sixties and seventies rock bands had a tendency to use British stacks like Marshalls or Hiwatts and so we had those kind of amps when comparing our Cinnamon Drive to ‘the real thing.'” The end result is a pedal that can rough up your sparkly clean, high-wattage, high–headroom combo (think Fender Twin) as well as give your gritty amps more fat crunch and kick.

To achieve this versatility, the Cinnamon Drive doesn’t re-write the rule book too much. It uses a tried-and-true recipe of op amps and diodes to amplify the guitar signal and create drive and saturation just like a lot of overdrive pedals in the market.

The main saturation circuit of the Cinnamon Drive is soft-clipped. This creates a more open and picking responsive tone, ideal to set your main sound leaving the Cinnamon Drive always on and modulating the amount of saturation playing harder/softer or using the volume control on your guitar,” said Sospedra. Dynamic responsiveness has become the hallmark of great-sounding, versatile gear and the Cinnamon Drive has this going in spades.

But the typical overdrive recipe ends there with the introduction of a uniquely integrated boost section. The boost section is not an independent booster circuit which can be activated apart from the Cinnamon’s overdrive circuit, and it doesn’t just provide another heap of volume (though it can do that if you like); it also adds hard-clipped saturation for a tighter, more compressed tone that’s great for heavier riffage and solos.

A couple of different things happen when the boost section kicks on. First, the standard volume control on the right is removed and the volume boost control on the left takes over the job of controlling output. The next thing that occurs is a rearrangement of the second half of the dual op amp inside the Cinnamon Drive, said Sospedra.

Line 6

The amount of amplification of that stage is now adjustable via the boost knob. A pair of diodes are connected to ground at the output, to create the hard-clipped sound,” said Sospedra. “The good thing about this design is when the boost knob is set at minimum there’s [very little] hard clipping added, so your tone stays the same but you have a switchable, independent volume control. It’s pretty versatile once you understand how it interacts with the Cinnamon’s interface!”

On the physical side of things, the Cinnamon Drive definitely has a different look going for it. But part of this visual feature is practical; the Cinnamon Drive is meant to seamlessly integrate with Aclam’s Smart Track pedalboard.

Back in 2013 we attended for the first time the NAMM Show with our now discontinued Modular Track pedalboards,” said Hereu. “We were told more than once that hook and loop (Velcro) sucked.  [We] understood that some people were waiting for a different way to take care of their pedals”.

 

The next year, we presented our first prototypes of this new system. It received very nice feedback, so we worked on the final design and started production,” said Hereu.

The modular Smart Track system uses a rail-and-clamp system to provide both security and flexibility for our always-growing pedalboards. The Cinnamon Drive has two thumbscrews set into its casing, allowing for a clean, virtually invisible attachment to a Smart Track pedalboard, without any goop, hooks, loops, tape, or other nonsense that can tarnish or even damage your pedals. But just about any pedal type can easily be mounted to a Smart Track pedalboard using Aclam’s clamping system. The clamping system also makes it easy to adjust pedal position and insert new pedals with minimal hassle and no unsightly residue.

Aclam has exciting products on the horizon as well. For those interested in the more psychedelic side of sixties music, Aclam will be soon releasing a pedal based on the famed Vox UL730. This hybrid amp (solid-state preamp/tube power section) literally set the (instrumental) tone for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and is a landmark piece not only for it’s role in that groundbreaking album, but as another step in the industries move towards solid-state amp design. Keep your eyes on this site https://drrobertpedal.com/ for more information.

It’s getting harder and harder to do something unique with the humble overdrive pedal, and Aclam has done two unique things with Cinnamon Drive in it’s Smart Track-ready design and uniquely executed boost circuit. And this writer, being the Beatles freak that he is, can’t wait to make an appointment with Dr. Robert when that hits the market. Definitely head on over to www.aclamproductsforguitars.com and check out what they have going!

 

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