Gear Review: Blackout Effectors LE Mantra (Hi/Lo Gain Mod)
I was looking for a new flavor of overdrive, so when I read about there being a low gain modded version of the Mantra from pedal-makers Blackout Effectors, I immediately headed to their website to check it out. There are still a few of these LE versions (slightly ‘blem’) available on Blackout’s Customs page at a very good price, but I was able to score an even better deal on Reverb. It was definitely a worthwhile purchase. Not only do you get the seering, over-the-top high gain of the standard Mantra, but the “Lo” setting reminds me of my much-missed Hermida Mosferatu. So, not super-low gain — although you can dial back the gain, and your guitar volume, for some pretty sweet, full, clean tones — but a very nice option for those of us who like those hard-to-find tones in the margins and spaces between the sounds we are all familiar with. Another aspect of the Mantra I was impressed with was the EQ. With only Bass and Treble knobs I’m able to dial in some very different tonal shadings, and there are obvious aural differences along the entire sweep of both controls. One thing for buyers to note: there are two internal trimpots inside the pedal which, according to the folks at Blackout, are used to ‘tune’ the JFET transistors. Do NOT goof around with these and expect your pedal to sound better; you are just as likely to end up with no sound at all! And if something seems awry with your Mantra, this is also a good place to do some trouble-shooting. Using a small flathead screwdriver you can adjust the internal trimpots with the pedal on; listen for the point where the sweep of both trimpots yields the greatest overall pedal volume. Pick up one for yourself at Blackout Effectors’ online store or search for the best prices on new or used ones on Reverb.
Here’s a no-frills video I made, going through some of the low gain tones (and giving you a brief taste of the standard, hi-gain Mantra):