Updated May. 27, 2022

EarthQuaker Devices Special Cranker

The EarthQuaker Devices Special Cranker is an all-discrete,  analog distortion from everyone’s favorite Ohio-based pedal builder, based on the discontinued Speaker Cranker, a one-knob overdrive now selling used for about twice the amount of this new, 3-knobbed pedal.

The Special Cranker is designed to give players a way to do all things gain, from boost to distortion without altering the original tone and the character of the amp, keeping mid-range definition without muddying the low end. The builder wants you to think of it as “sticking an extra preamp tube in your amplifier for more saturation.”

The controls are pretty straightforward, although the builders has a warning regarding the More knob:

This control changes the bias of the transistor, so you may hear a little noise when adjusting. Don’t worry; this is perfectly normal. At maximum gain, the Special Cranker can achieve explosive overbiased tones depending on the output of your pickups.

A toggle switch lets you select Germanium and Silicon diodes, for a softer and more transparent tone or a brighter and more modern edge.

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EarthQuaker Devices Special Cranker, Builder’s Notes

An Overdrive You Can Trust

An all-discrete analog distortion enhancement device designed to give your signal some extra grit and boost without drastically altering your tone and retaining all of the natural nuances and character of your amp. Think of it as sticking an extra preamp tube in your amplifier for more saturation. Single notes will blossom and bloom with rich harmonics and singing sustain with responsive, tube-like sag. Power chords will sound thicker and crunchier, a little more ragged around the edges. Complex chords will remain distinct and complex, as the Special Cranker is designed to preserve your tone’s integrity without muddying up the low-end or smearing the midrange.

DESIGN NOTES

1. Level: Adjusts the output volume. Unity gain is between 10-12 o’clock depending on which diodes are selected.

2. Diode Selector: Germanium on the left for a softer and more transparent tone and Silicon on the right for a brighter and more modern edge.

3. More: Adjusts the gain. This control changes the bias of the transistor, so you may hear a little noise when adjusting. Don’t worry; this is perfectly normal. At maximum gain, the Special Cranker can achieve explosive overbiased tones depending on the output of your pickups.

4. Tone: Rolls off highs counterclockwise and boosts highs clockwise. A flat response can be found right around 3 o’clock.

Design Notes
The Special Cranker picks up where our beloved Speaker Cranker left off. It has the same spongy, dynamic, and touch-sensitive character of the original but with more gain, double the output volume (now with a user-friendly Level control), an added Tone control to shape your signal, and a diode selector switch featuring the original asymmetrical Silicon diodes as well as a hot, new Germanium diode option.

The More control goes from nearly clean to a medium gain overdrive when at maximum. This control adjusts the bias of the transistor, so you may hear a little noise as you turn the control. Don’t freak out; it’s totally fine. The gain characteristics are dependent on which diodes are chosen. When the Germanium diodes are selected, the Special Cranker delivers a softer, more rounded response with tamed highs and lower output, while the Silicon diodes add a brighter, more modern edge and higher output. Both are exceptionally responsive to playing dynamics and have excellent clarity. The Tone control gives the user full command over treble frequencies, cutting the highs when counterclockwise and adding a slight high frequency boost when turned clockwise. The Level control adjusts the output from nothing to nearly double at maximum.