Founded in 2007 by Los Angeles based engineer Dereck Tabata, Tone Freak Effects has built a reputation for stompboxes familiar in design, with a few special tweaks for added versatility. We were intrigued by one of their older models, called Severe, a meaty medium-to-severely-high gain pedal with tones reminiscent of some of the most notorious high gain amplifiers in the world.

The standard 3 knob (Gain, Tone, and Level) overdrive taken up a notch, there is a toggle switch that allows for different clipping options – symmetrical, asymmetrical, and no clipping – as well as a bright switch that affects high frequencies on the Tone control.

Severe produces a more dynamic sort of overdriven tone, and unlike many other pedals with this much gain on tap it never moves into that heavily-compressed, “rectified” sound. It plays nice with amplifiers of all types and is very well made, equally at home as a rhythm or lead sound.

Check out below demos of the Severe and the Abunai 2, their two most popular pedals. – Brandon Stoner