Radial Tonebone Plexitube Pedal

Radial Tonebone Plexitube Pedal - Click to Enlarge

Radial Tonebone – Plexitube

The sound of a Marshall amp at your feet! The Plexitube from Radial features a real 12AX7 tube and a unique multistage solid state circuitry that combines to create authentic British distortion.

This pedal features two distinct distortion channels, each with it’s own level control. Plus, 8 different knobs and switches give you a ton of ways to tweak your tone. The high and low EQ knobs affect both channels, as do the top end boost/cut and mid boost switches. In addition to the global EQ adjustments, each channel has it’s own contour control and voicing switch, which boosts or cuts mid frequencies.

The amount of distortion is of course adjustable with the drive knob, and a separate trim adjustment on the side of the pedal controls distortion on channel two. True bypass guarantees you won’t sacrifice the tone while this pedal is not in use.

Channel two has the added bonus of an effects loop, which you can tab into via the insert jack next to the output. And power is supplied with a custom 15VDC (400mA) wall wort.

Sound

I have to say I think this pedal really does live up to the Plexi name. I’ve been using this pedal as my main distortion box for over a year now and I’m really happy with the tone. I actually own a Marshall JCM 2000 TSL, so I’ve been able to compare the two. Both my Marshall and Plexitube have a that thick, crunchy British distortion, rich in harmonics. The big difference is that the Plexitube has more gain than my Marshall, which I like. So it’s kind of like putting my Marshall on steroids. Plugged into my Peavey Classic 2×12, it sounds pretty close to a real deal Marshall combo amp.

Pros

What I love most about this pedal, besides the tone, is the fact that I have two seperate channels. As lead guitar player, I need a separate lead channel that will give me plenty of boost when it’s my time to shine! You can’t always (more like never) rely on the sound guy.

The EQ control makes this pedal one of the most universally usable distortion boxes on the market. With any distortion effect, you will get different results depending on what amp you hook it up to. This is much less of an issue with the Plexitube, where you can dial in the perfect EQ setting to match the amp. Forget using a separate EQ pedal!

Cons

For some folks, the Plexitube may be too gainy. To get a more subtle distortion on channel 1 you have to roll back the guitar’s volume knob, which isn’t a terrible thing. Engaging the drive knob to the max will give you a nice heavy distortion on channel 1, but will likely make channel 2 a ferocious beast that’s difficult to control.

The trim control that adjusts the amount of gain on channel 2 (which can only be equal to or greater in gain than channel 1) is a bit cumbersome. It’s depressed into the side of the unit and necessitates the use of a small flat head screw driver for adjustment. So you can’t make this change on the fly (at least not easily).

The channel two effects loop is a nifty feature on this pedal if your amp has no effects loop, but I’m afraid I have to file this one under cons. The reason for that is because it doesn’t work for channel 1. If your amp already has an effects loop you’ll be better off using that. Plus it requires you use a special insert Y cable. This was done I’m sure to save space, but not everyone has those cables lying around.

Like I mentioned before, the unit is powered with a wall wort.  While it’s not heavy or excessively large, it can make integrating this pedal into your pedal board more of a headache. Not a big deal, but it is something to consider.

Lastly, some may find the price too hefty at $300. I mean, for that price you could buy a Vox ToneLab or something similar and get way more features. So I could see how many guitarists may find it hard to justify buying a Plexitube.

Ratings

Rating: ★★★★★ 5 – Build Quality

Rating: ★★★★½ 4.5 – Sound Quality

Rating: ★★★★½ 4.5 – Features

Rating: ★★★★½ 4.5 – Ease of Use

Overall Rating: ★★★★½ 4.62

Bottom Line

The Tonebone Plexitube is a boutique British distortion pedal for guitarists who know what tone they want and don’t mind paying a good price for it. Its sound is well suited for a broad range of styles, including blues, punk, classic rock, hard rock and even heavy metal. The plethora of tone controls also make it flexible and very usable with different amplifiers.

I did a lot of research before buying my Plexitube, and in my opinion it kills all the other distortion effects available in this price range.

Dave Willard (28 Articles)

Dave Willard is an experienced guitar player and teacher, providing private guitar lessons in Morristown, New Jersey. After over 14 years of teaching, he's helped literally hundreds of students become better musicians. When he's not teaching, you can find Dave playing in cover bands around the NJ club scene.