The Walrus Audio 385 MkII might be the only guitar pedal inspired by the sound of a… projector: the Bell and Howell Filmosound 385. Obviously, the inspiration here came from the projector’s amplifier, rather than its video-related circuitry.
MkI was one of the earliest pedals released by the Oklahoma City company. This new version adds an extra channel of Volume and Gain that can be toggled via the (also new) A/B footswitch.
The new circuit can deliver a wider tonal palette than MkI, through the 385+ switch that pushes the front end of the circuit for more saturated tones, while the “regular” 385 mode sounds identical to the original, delivering rich, dynamic, responsive, and tube-like drive tones, with the high headroom granted by a circuit running internally at 18v.
Born as a low gain overdrive, the orignal 385 was appreaciated by many guitarists with the gain cranked up, which pushed the company to introduce the 385+ mode.
As always with overdrives, it’s all about the sound. You can hear it in the videos below.
Walrus Audio 385 MkII, Builder’s Notes
Inspired by the rich tones of the Bell and Howell Filmosound 385 projector, the reimagined 385 MKII Overdrive offers dynamic, responsive, tube-like drive with simple but effective controls. The MKII adds an A/B switch to toggle between two sets of volume and gain knobs that can be used like a preset to change volume and/or gain for specific parts, as well as a 385+ switch that slams the front end of the circuit for added high-gain saturation.
For years, guitarists seeking pure tone have been taking the tube-powered audio sections of vintage film projectors and using them as guitar amps. We fell in love with the unique sound, and were inspired to capture it in a pedalboard-friendly box when we created the original 385 Overdrive pedal.
The 385 was developed to have the same simple but effective tone control as its grandfather. While the amp stacks bass and treble behind a single knob, our design separates them, allowing for a much wider array of tones to be achieved. The user is able to boost and cut bass and treble, allowing them to be creative with mid-frequency scoops and bumps.
When we released the 385 Overdrive in 2016, it was quickly adopted by guitar players for the amp-like dynamics you could get at lower gain settings. Soon though, players found that cranking the gain produced a distortion-esque drive that was unique to the 385. To accommodate both setups in a single pedal, we added an A/B switch along with a second set of Volume and Gain knobs that share a single set of tone controls.
The pedal is internally running at 18v, which helps us nail the same dynamic feel of the amp in a stomp box. This means it is extremely sensitive to how hard you dig in – just like the amp.