The KERNOM RIDGE is an award winner, and for good reason; and the engineers just established a new precent that surely will be followed. When most guitarists are thinking what drive may be the best for certain sounds or applications, the Kernom people sought out a way to put nearly every drive pedal under one chassis. On that note, I’ll begin with the most important feature (although they all coordinate to establish specific OD characteristics), the MOOD dial.
MOOD establishing the clipping behavior of the pedal, of how it responds and interacts with the amp to give it a particular OD flavor, from soft to hard clipping, and from symmetrical to asymmetrical. There are five key sections from which to choose, and understand that each section has a ‘zone,’ which means within each section or zone, there are subtle and not-so-subtle differences (so do explore and do not simply place the dial in a section thinking it doesn’t matter). The first section is very clean and open sounding with no to little soft clipping – it really adds life and sparkle to an already existing tone. The second section is slightly more intense, with a transparent and highly dynamic overdrive. The third section is a colored overdrive, and is more pronounced still. Then we delve into the hi-gain section, which may sound as though it’s meant for hard rock or metal, but not necessarily (I’ll address that soon). The fifth section is heavy and thicker (woolier), with characteristics similar to (but not quite) that of a fuzz.
Now, the MOOD is only one component to all this, as the DRIVE knob then influences the extent to which the MOOD characteristics come through. As a simple example, you may like the qualities of the hi-gain section, but want to apply it to a clean signal for a moderate crunch. Well, if the DRIVE is low enough, it adds a low to moderate drive and may not sound hi-gain per se. In fact, nearly any OD pedal you can think of can be dialed into the KERNOM RIDGE because of this massive flexibility. There are several videos of musicians doing exactly that, and so, look into those for further clarification.
Once a basic OD sound is achieved, fine-tuning begins with the PRE TONE knob, which establishes how the pedal reacts to the guitar signal and before the clipping stage. Neutral position is 12-noon, whereas more ‘body’ is achieved by turning left, or more sparkle/presence if turned right. The POST TONE knob comes after the clipping stage and it allows you to customize the output sound, whether you want darker or brighter. Again, 12-noon is the neutral position. The MIDS shape the midrange frequencies, with 12-noon being the neutral position. This control better determines how the guitar signal sits in or cuts through the mix, for tones that are more scooped, darker, more cutting, etc. The VOLUME control does exactly that, and the KERNOM RIDGE does have a hefty amount of headroom under its hood, although requiring only a 9V input (300mA recommended). This is done by resetting the unit’s sensitivity (to maximize the signal to noise ratio) and to drive any amp imaginable. It is set automatically for guitar, but can be set for greater sensitivity if working with a keyboard or into a mixing desk. (I'll stop here, since I'm limited to 5000 words.) No complaints so far, and I can only imagine if they decide to do the same with distortion or fuzz (the latter of which they're working on).