The 4 Best Klon Centaur Clones – Pedal Reviews 2023

best klon centaur clone, klon centaur pedal

Photo by Scott Wyngarden / CC BY

When the Klon Centaur was released in 1994, it became the first “transparent” overdrive pedal available on the market. Finally, guitarists had a pedal that could give you more out of your set-up without adding its own quirks or color to the sound. The design was revolutionary when it first came out, with each individual pedal built and tested by hand by the designer, Bill Finnegan, putting these early Centaur pedals at a price point few players could afford—and putting those who could shell out the money on a months-long waiting list to get their hands on one.

In the twenty plus years since, other companies have taken Finnegan’s original design and made their own transparent overdrive pedals, giving today’s guitarists more affordable options to choose from. If you’re a newcomer to the transparent overdrive pedal and aren’t sure what brand will suit your needs, any of the pedals below will give your sound the added boost you’re looking for.

These are our recommendations for the 4 best Klon Centaur clones on the market:

Klon Centaur Clone 1: TTONE KLONE Overdrive Guitar Pedal

The Klone overdrive pedal from TTone certainly has the look of the pedal that inspired it, from the simplicity of the interface to the color and logo on the casing. The pedal’s iconic sound has been replicated just as faithfully, providing the boost and bite that can seriously liven up your guitar’s tone.

Like the original Centaurs, the Klone has three control knobs: gain (to set the level of distortion), treble (to adjust the frequency), and output (for effect volume). Many players find this to be just the right amount of control, letting you adjust the effect to match your tone without losing the essence of the effect. It also sounds great paired with other effects, especially delay and distortion pedals, and since it can run off of either battery or AC power, it’s an easy pedal to fit into your rig.

Battle of the Klon Klones! (TTONE Golden Horse vs. Chelle Ponyboy)

Klon Centaur Clone 2: J Rockett Audio Designs Pedal

Don’t let the price-tag put you off of checking this one out. The Archer is essentially two pedals in one, giving you both a medium-gain overdrive and a clean boost pedal in one compact and sturdy package. When Bill Finnegan stopped making the original Centaur pedal, his plans to create a mass-producible version—rather than the hand-wired models he made—ended up in the hands of J Rockett Audio, and served as the design basis for this Archer pedal.

With the gain control off, you get the open tone of the original Klon. The more you turn it up, the more grit you’ll get in balance to the clean overdrive—a lot of tone colors to play with for one pedal. This should be on anyone’s list of the best Klon Centaur clones.

J Rockett Audio Archer Pedal Demo Video by Shawn Tubbs

JKlon Centaur Clone 3: HS Electro-Harmonix Soul Food “Meat & 3” Mod

At less than half the cost of the original Centaurs, the Soul Food is an excellent value that accurately re-creates the overall feel and tone of that much-revered pedal but enhances the circuitry to give you more headroom and better definition.

While the Soul Food is an excellent pedal in its own right, the mod added by JHS gives you an extra three-way clipping toggle and bass contour knob to shape your tone just like you could on the original. Of course, it also still has the drive and treble controls standard on all Soul Food pedals, along with a switchable true or buffered bypass. It’s among the best Klon Centaur clones for the money.

Electro-Harmonix Soul Food Pedal Review | The Affordable Klon Centaur

Klon Centaur Clone 4: Wampler Tumnus Overdrive

Wampler is quieter about being a Klon clone than some of the other models on the market, but this pedal is a faithful reproduction of the Centaur sound—packed into a compact casing that’s less than half the size of the original Klon pedal. Like the original, it has a buffered bypass and a simple three-knob interface. Turning up the gain can take you from a crystal clear boost to a smooth singing tone to a crunchy overdrive, all while bringing out the best of your amp’s tone. Alone, it adds richness to your sound, but it also works great stacked with other fuzz or distortion pedals for a truly unique overdrive.

Wampler Tumnus Overdrive

The Legendary Klon Centaur & Its Clones

The original Klon Centaur pedal was a pricey and rare pedal even when it was first introduced in the 1990s. Buying one would set you back around $225—roughly equivalent to the $400-$500 you’d spend to get a new one now. Vintage Centaurs from the early ’90s can be hard to come by, and often end up costing over $1,000. This is largely why so many companies have decided to clone the famed pedal even though the original craftsman, Bill Finnegan, is still making Centaurs, though it’s a smaller pedal than the original design.

The idea behind the Klon Centaur pedal that made it so revolutionary was that it simply boosted the overdrive produced by your amp, rather than adding its own overdrive sound. The pedal is “transparent” in the sense that you hear through it to the pure sound of your amp beneath. This makes it different from other pedals in your rack that add new colors to your sound that become part of the overall signal. A transparent overdrive is more like a tone-shaping tool for your amp, giving you more control over the balance of distortion to volume. It’s this quality of the Centaur that clones like the ones above aim to emulate.

A transparent overdrive is the right pedal for you if you love the sound of your natural amp but want to access its high-gain tones without having to crank the volume. They’re especially beloved by guitarists who use vintage tube amps because of how well they enhance the warmth and smooth fuzz these amps are known for. Going the clone route has at least one practical benefit over tracking down an original—it saves you a lot of space on your pedal rack. The original Centaur is a beast of the pedal, but modern clones like the Soul Food (see full specs) and the Tumnus (see full specs) have a sleeker profile, making them more convenient.

Considering how well the four models above stay true to the intent and tone of the original Centaur, you’d be well-served adding any of them to your pedal arsenal. The main difference of note you’ll see between the best Klon Centaur clones and the original, though, is the nature of the bypass. While the original Centaur had a buffered bypass, some clones use a true bypass instead—a minor change, but one to watch out for if you like the unique sound the buffered bypass offers you. Beyond this, it’s a matter of choosing which pedal gives you the right tone-shaping options to let you bring out the best sound your amp can produce.

  • Micah Johnson started playing music in high school, when he taught himself the bass to join his friend’s band. He added guitar and drums during his twenties playing in local clubs, and along the way, he picked up unique, hands-on experience from hand drums to studio mixers. On Song Simian, he aims to share this knowledge from 20+ years playing and recording music. When not in gearhead mode, he enjoys photography and travel.

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