The Klon Centaur is one of the most famous guitar pedals of all time. It has reached an almost legendary status, with original Klons now selling for upwards of $3100/£2500 on sites like Reverb.
In my last article on the topic – ‘Why Is the Klon Centaur So Famous?‘ – I covered 8 of the main reasons why the original Klons have now become so expensive. My conclusion was that although the Klon is a brilliant sounding pedal, the price of used Klons has less to do with the tone of the pedal, and more to do with its popularity amongst famous guitarists, its scarcity, and the mystery behind its production.
So the question then, is how can we capture the sound of the Klon, without paying the inflated prices on the second hand market?
Fortunately – various pedal manufacturers have created brilliant copies of the Klon (often wittily referred to as ‘Klones’). And you will be glad to know that these pedals are much more budget friendly than the original.
There are a huge number of these ‘Klones’. Some of these are basically carbon copies of the original, both with regards to their features and design. Others have been less faithful in their recreation. The might have tried to alter or improve the Klon’s circuit in some way, or to have totally changed the design of the pedal. Clones of the original Klon come in a whole range of different sizes and their prices vary wildly.
As a result, it is not easy to figure out the pros and cons of these different pedals. So here I’ve compiled a list of some of the best ‘Klones’ out there. I hope this helps you in your quest for beautiful blues tones.
Without further ado then, here are 10 of the best Klon Centaur clones:
J. Rockett Audio Designs Archer
In recent years, the J. Rockett Audio Designs Archer has become one of the most popular ‘Klones’. J. Rockett Audio Designs (JRAD for short) actually worked with Bill Finnegan – the designer of the original Klon – on the first version of the Klon KTR pedal (more on this below). And so as clones go, the JRAD Archer is very faithful to the original – both in its circuitry and design.
As you might expect then, the Archer sounds strikingly similar to the original. And although forum pundits are always keen to draw out the various differences in ‘thickness and throatiness’ between this and the original Klon, the differences really are minimal.
One benefit of this pedal is its size. Although the design of the Klon Centaur is very striking, the pedal does take up a lot of room on a pedalboard.
So if you are looking for the same killer Klon tones but in a more compact enclosure, the JRAD Archer could be a great choice. Either that, or I would recommend looking at the JRAD Archer IKON. This is very similar to the Archer, but is designed to replicate the sound of the golden Klon Centaurs, which a lot of people believe have a slightly different tonal characteristic to the silver Centaur pedals.
The Archer costs around $175/£175, whilst the IKON is slightly more expensive, at $199/£199.
Electro-Harmonix Soul Food
Thankfully, the various ‘Klones’ listed here sit in a much lower price bracket than the original Klon Centaur. This makes them attainable for most guitarists, and not just serious gear collectors and professional musicians. Yet having said this, so great is the hype that surrounds the original Centaur, that even most clones of the pedal are quite pricey.
$200/£200 might seem like a bargain compared with the price of an original Klon. But it is still relatively expensive when you compare it with a lot of other overdrive or boost pedals on the market.
Electro-Harmonix Founder Mike Matthews recognised this, and so built the Soul Food as an affordable alternative for ‘starving musicians’.
Although its unique design looks nothing like the original Klon; its circuitry is very similar. Just like the Centaur, the Soul Food uses both a TL072 op-amp and a dual-gang gain control. As a result, its tone profile is very close to that of the Klon.
Costing around $85/£85 – the Soul Food is one of the most affordable Klon clones out there. So if you are looking to get the legendary Klon tones, but you are price conscious, this could make a great addition to your pedalboard.
Ceriatone Centura Professional Overdrive
On first glance, you could be forgiven for mistaking the Ceriatone Centura for the original Klon Centaur. Unlike many of the clones listed here, Ceriatone’s take on the pedal is uncannily similar to the original. It is housed in an almost identical enclosure, has the same tone shaping controls and very similar circuitry.
Fans of the Centura assert that it’s the best sounding ‘Klone’ on the market. So if you are looking to replicate the original as closely as possible – in look, feel and tone – this could be the option for you.
You can buy the pedal in silver, gold or black. Ceriatone also give you the choice of having a plain enclosure (as pictured left) or for the enclosure to come emblazoned with a picture of a guitar wielding Centaur.
Additionally, Ceriatone offer a Centura Klon clone kit. This arrives with all of the parts you need to build your own ‘Klone’ from scratch. Given the number of components in the Centura, it isn’t an easy build, but it could be a great project if you like tweaking and modding your own gear.
Ranging from between $200 for the kit and up to $225 (and around £240 in the U.K.) for a fully assembled pedal, the Ceriatone is one of the more expensive pedals listed here. But if you want to replicate the original Klon as closely as possible for a fraction of the price, the Centura could be an amazing option.
RYRA The Klone
Another great option if you are looking for a clone that stays faithful to the original is the ‘RYRA The Klone Pedal’. Hand built by Shane Logan from ‘Rock Your Repaired Amp’ (RYRA for short) – the Klone Pedal has garnered a lot of praise for the quality of its tone and its resemblance to the original.
And it is perhaps little surprise. For like the original, all of the RYRA pedals are constructed by hand, by just one man. The pedal is built using very high quality components and undergoes strict quality control.
It features the same simple controls as the Klon, and there are also some design similarities. It has the same oxblood control knobs, and has a logo of the mythical Centaur across the front.
But it is here that the aesthetic similarities end. The RYRA is smaller than the original Klon, and comes in a variety of different colours. You can go for the original silver or gold colours, as well as ‘sea foam green’ (pictured right) or ‘black cherry’.
As a real plus point, at $190/£195 – the RYRA is slightly cheaper than some of the very faithful clones listed here. And this is quite significant when you consider that the RYRA is a ’boutique’ pedal in the truest sense of the word. So if you want beautiful blues tones, a very well built pedal and you either don’t want to replicate the design of the original Klon, or would prefer a slightly smaller pedal, this could make a great addition to your pedalboard.
Wampler Tumnus Deluxe
The Tumnus – named after ‘Mr. Tumnus’ from the fictional series The Chronicles of Narnia – is a very affordable and compact clone built to recreate the tones of the original Klon Centaur. Although stylistically it looks quite different to the Klon, the Tumnus faithfully recreates the Klon’s tonal profile. It also features the same simple 3 knob design.
The Tumnus Deluxe is an evolution of the original Tumnus. It features the same design (but in a larger enclosure) and it is also built to replicate a Klon Centaur. But it gives you the option to further tweak your tone with Bass, Mid and Treble controls. It also has a Normal/Hot switch that allows you to add more gain into the circuit.
As a result, the Tumnus Deluxe offers both Klon like tones, as well as a whole range of beautiful and warm overdrive tones. So if you are looking for a Klon clone, and you also want lots of tone tweaking possibilities, the Tumnus Deluxe could be a brilliant choice. At $199/£189, it’s also bang in the middle of the price bracket for this type of pedal.
Keeley Electronics Oxblood
Somewhere between the faithful Klon replicas and the tone tweaking options of the Tumnus Deluxe lies the Keeley Electronic Oxblood. Stylistically, the pedal looks nothing like the original. But tonally, it has many of the same characteristics that make the Klon so famous. It has the’ transparent’ overdrive, the warm and rich drive tones, and the ability to enhance the sound of any guitar and amp combination.
The Oxblood does all of this, with a number of key differences. The first of these is a ‘Phat’ switch on the front of the pedal. This alters the bass response of the Oxblood, and gives you the option to choose either a 736hz or 66hz low cut.
The second key difference is a clipping switch, which allows you to choose between 2 different circuits within the pedal. The first circuit, known as the ‘Mythical’ circuit, is based on the diodes used in the original Klon Centaur. As such, it is lower gain and has a greater dynamic response.
The second ‘Magical’ circuit, is totally different, and produces a much more compressed and higher gain sound. As such, unlike most of the pedals listed here (and also unlike the original Klon Centaur) – the Oxblood has a very wide gain range. It can go from an open and transparent vintage sounding drive, through to a heavy overdrive that verges on the sound of fuzz.
So if you want a Klon style pedal, and you are also looking for heavy blues and rock tones, the Oxblood could make a great addition to your rig. The pedal currently costs around $200/200.
Nordvang Custom Wingman
If you like the idea of a dual overdrive pedal, but want a ‘more’ boutique option, the Nordvang Custom Wingman could be a great choice. Like Bill Finnegan – the designer of the original Klon – Henrik Nordvang set up Nordvang Custom by himself. It is a one man operation, with Nordvang personally designing, building and testing all of the pedals.
The ‘No.1 Overdrive’ – a Klon clone that Nordvang released in 2014 – proved popular for the quality of its tone, as well as its variety of tone shaping options.
The No.1 is no longer in production, but in its place Nordvang has released 2 dual overdrives. The first of these is the Wingman. It features 2 Klon style circuits and gives you the option of stacking them together. Both of these circuits are fitted with a ‘ratio’ switch. In essence, this allows you to alter the amount of gain in the circuit. There are also internal dip switches for each side and you can use these to alter the bass response in the circuit.
The second dual overdrive that Nordvang has released is the ’83 Drive. This is made with a Klon style circuit, and a Marshall Bluesbreaker style circuit. So if you want a Klon style pedal, as well as a broad range of vintage blues tones, this could be a great option too. At around $525/£425 these pedals are not cheap. But if you are looking for tonal versatility and a very well made pedal, either the Wingman or the ’83 Drive could work very well.
Conversely, if you are looking for a great Klon clone, but are more budget conscious – then you should look at the Nux Horseman. Costing just $69/£59, the Horseman is one of the cheapest ‘Klones’ out there. And with the Horseman you get a lot of pedal for your money.
The pedal has 2 different modes that capture the 2 ‘different’ Klon Centaurs that Finnegan originally manufactured. In ‘Silver’ mode, like the original Klon, the Horseman’s voltage is doubled to 18V. This gives the pedal more gain, headroom and richer harmonics. In the ‘Gold’ mode, the Horseman works as a transparent boost.
In this price bracket, pedal manufacturers don’t give the same attention to design and finish. So the look and feel of this pedal is not the same as some of the others listed here. But tone is what matters. And so if you want to capture the legendary Klon tones on a budget, the Horseman could make a great choice. It is a compact, versatile pedal that offers amazing value for money.
MXR Sugar Drive
Another pedalboard friendly ‘Klone’ to look at is the MXR Sugar Drive. Like the NUX Horseman and the original Wampler Tumnus, the Sugar Drive is housed in a small enclosure. It also features a simple 3 knob design and is based closely on the original Klon circuit.
The Sugar Drive has a dual-ganged gain pot, as well as a ‘charge pump’ that boosts the voltage of the pedal to 18V. This gives the pedal a more natural and less compressed overdrive, as well as ‘higher-order harmonic content’.
Unlike the original Klon, the default set up of the Sugar Drive is true bypass. However, MXR have given you the option to easily change this via a switch on the side of the pedal.
Rather unusually, the Sugar Drive makes no reference to the fact that it is a ‘Klone’. It’s name doesn’t reference the Klon, nor does its bright blue enclosure. So if you are looking for Klon style tones but you don’t want an obvious Klon clone on your pedalboard, the Sugar Drive could be the way to go. Costing around $120/£120, it is also a much cheaper option than many of the pedals listed here
Way Huge Conspiracy Theory
Last up is the Way Huge Conspiracy Theory Professional Overdrive. Clearly mocking the hype that surrounds the original Klon Centaur, the product description from Way Huge reads as follows:
They say it relies on Alien technology bestowed upon our ancient forebears, producing a sound so dazzling that it generates a heatless auditory light that will liberate the consciousness of any guitarist who kicks it on. Adjusting the gain control initiates a form of fusion heretofore unknown to science, bonding rich harmonics with your guitar signal to create smooth, transparent overdrive
Yet despite this tongue in cheek description, the Conspiracy Theory is no joke. Its circuitry closely mimics the original Klon, as does its design. Of all of the pedals listed here, the Way Huge is closest in size to the JRAD Archer. But unlike the Archer, it is made of aluminium and as a result is quite a bit lighter. It is also one of the cheapest of the clones listed here, costing around $130/£140.
Socif you want for a practical, budget friendly pedal with killer tones that doesn’t take itself too seriously, the Conspiracy Theory could be a great option.
The Klon KTR – An honourable mention
It is perhaps a little misleading to include the Klon KTR in this list. Technically speaking, I don’t think it can be classified as a ‘clone’. This is because the KTR was also made by Bill Finnegan – the designer of the original Klon Centaur. In fact, Finnegan himself alluded to his own reputation with the design of the KTR, plastering the words ‘Kindly remember: The ridiculous hype that offends so many is not of my making’ across the front of the pedal.
First released in 2014, the KTR was a faithful reproduction of the original Klon Centaur. It was made using the same circuit design and diodes, but with ‘surface mount technology’. This made the KTR smaller in size. It also allowed the pedals to be mass produced. The KTR has the exact same controls as the original Klon.
Given the reputation of the original Klon, the KTR also proved very popular. Yet production of the pedal ceased a couple of years ago. It is a little unclear why, but whatever the reason – you can no longer buy the KTR new.
Again, because of the hype that surrounds the original Centaur, the prices of the KTR have started to rise. You can still find the KTR on sites like Reverb, but they now sell for around $500/£400.
Some closing thoughts…
Due to the popularity of the original Klon Centaur, there are now literally hundreds of Klon clones to choose from. It easy to be drawn into the hype that surrounds the original Klon. And this can make choosing a ‘Klone’ unnecessarily difficult.
You can find yourself believing that only the ‘real deal’ will do the job. Or you can find yourself poring over guitar forums, studying the minute details that guitarists believe they hear between different ‘Klones’.
That of course is not to say these differences don’t exist. It is instead to suggest that the differences between Klon clones are usually heavily exaggerated.
All of the pedals listed here have a slightly different tonal profile. And in some cases they have very different features. They are made of different materials, come in different sizes and have different designs. They also come in a range of different prices.
Yet despite those differences, all of the pedals listed here will help you recreate tones that are very similar to those of the original Klon Centaur. The differences between these pedals are really not that profound. And the differences between these pedals and the original Klon are also not that significant.
In the end then, don’t get too hung up on which ‘Klone’ you go for. If you are going to be using your Klon style pedal a lot, then I would suggest opting for one of the top-end, hand made clones. It will be made with higher quality components and is likely to be sturdier and more robust.
Conversely, if you are going to be using your ‘Klone’ alongside a whole range of other overdrives or pedals – or if you are going to be using it only occasionally – then one of the more budget friendly options might make more sense.
But whichever pedal you go for, let me know how you get on! Pop a message in the comment box below, or send me an email on aidan@happybluesman. And if you think there any really special ‘Klones’ that I’ve missed from this list, please share them. I’d love to hear about them!
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