For a lot of in-the-know stomp-box aficionados, certain pedals designed for guitar work particularly well on bass, too. It’s not always the case, as a guitar pedal’s frequency response can limit its extension into our instrument’s essential low register, but a few broader-bandwidth pedals seem to be instrument-agnostic. For years, the Way Huge Pork Loin has been one such pedal: Originally designed for guitar, there’s something about the Pork Loin’s warm and full-throated overdrive, clever clean-blend circuit, and low-frequency response that have made it a frequent find on savvy bass players’ pedalboards. Appreciating the Pork Loin’s popularity in our corner of the world, the folks at Dunlop (the company behind Way Huge effects) decided to release a bass version, this time adding an entirely new effect to the mix and expanding on the Pork Loin’s excellent-sounding clean-blend circuit. The resulting Pork & Pickle is a potent tool, capable of a remarkable spectrum of overdrive and fuzz tones that don’t sacrifice low-end response.
The Pork & Pickle is basically a hybrid of the Pork Loin overdrive and Way Huge’s Russian Pickle fuzz. A rugged-feeling switch allows players to quickly choose between the two basic sounds. The Pork & Pickle’s construction is exemplary, with a durable metal chassis, robust screwed-in rubber feet, an easily accessible battery door, and great-looking, well laid-out knobs and switches. Dialing in a tone begins with choosing between the richly textured, midrangey-overdrive Pork Loin sound or the much more aggressive, square-wave-ish Russian Pickle fuzz tone. The DRIVE control governs the intensity of the distortion, and tweaking it alone yields a broad array of harmonic colors in either mode, with the more intense settings being especially aggro and almost synth-like, particularly with the FUZZ switch engaged. Further tailoring of the distorted sound is available via the TONE control, which acts more like a high-cutting tone knob in the O/D mode, but engages a more complex EQ curve when the Pork & Pickle is in the FUZZ zone, resulting in a sound that goes from throaty and midrange-heavy to fizzy and scooped-sounding as it’s turned up.
One of the Pork & Pickle’s key features is its blendable clean sound. For bass especially, the ability to blend in some dry signal can help a distorted sound retain its supportive presence in a dense mix. The Pork & Pickle’s clean tone has a bit of flavor, too—it’s not a dry and sterile direct signal, but rather feels like a slightly juiced-up, more harmonically rich version of the input signal. The CLEAN BLEND knob does what it says, while the CLEAN TONE knob allows a player to govern the brilliance of the clean signal, much like a passive bass’ tone knob.
Given its relatively simple operation and great price, the Pork & Pickle delivers a spectrum of distorted sounds that rival much more expensive pedals—and even some cranked tube amps. The overdrive circuit sounds natural, with an excellent soft push into clipping due to its superb dynamic sensitivity. It’s great both for adding a bit of hair to an otherwise bald-sounding signal or for a more full-bore and aggressive tube-like grit as the DRIVE knob is turned up. The fuzz is an entirely different beast, with a much rawer and spitty-sounding presence that cuts like crazy. At higher settings, it also has the sort of gated attack that goes a long way toward helping a bass guitar emulate a synth. Finally, the ability to blend in the just-right amount of clean tone means the bottom never drops out when you engage the effect. For serious tweakers, there’s a quartet of trim pots inside the pedal that allow for more precise fine-tuning of the Pork & Pickle’s timbre and output level.
Just as with the Pork Loin, the Way Huge Pork & Pickle is sure to endear a swath of bass players. In offering two flavors of excellent-sounding distortion along with simple but effective controls, Way Huge has a big winner on its hands.
Pork & Pickle
Pros Two great-sounding distortion effects in one pedal; rugged construction; excellent clean-blend functionality
Bottom Line A double-threat of a distortion pedal, the Way Huge Pork & Pickle is bound to be a hit.
Power 9 volts via battery or external AC adapter
Made in U.S.A.