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Hagerman Amplification Gamma Radiation
Hagerman Amplification Gamma Radiation
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MGR/Brian Johnston MGR/Brian Johnston

« Thick, meaty, and with a growl »

Published on 06/23/24 at 01:39
Value For Money : Excellent
Audience: Anyone
If you’re looking to go from medium to high-gain, Gamma Radiation is a choice pedal. If you want your distortion to have thick, grainy and robust characteristics, then Gamma Radiation may further serve that purpose. Based on Jim Hagerman’s ‘gamma’ patent from 1995, this is a more powerful version of the Hagerman Distortion. In effect, the circuit runs two clipping stages in series to make a clean amp turn into a rock machine when the Drive is low to moderate, and then some metal mayhem when the Drive is 12-noon or higher. The demo below illustrates various tones and drive qualities, but something I did not present is how it sounds with the Drive all the way down and the guitar’s volume backed off – cleans come alive with exceptional note details and harmonics.

With a guitar’s volume up, Drive qualities range from a vigorous breakup when all the way down, to a very thick and nasty crunch just before 12-noon, to a more saturated and slightly hairier distortion beyond 12-noon. The overall tone quality does maintain throughout, although more supercharged as the Drive increases. And that’s what I much appreciated about the Gamma Radiation, in that the distortion always is thick and meaty, and not a thin, almost fizzy sound that some distortions have. The others may be fine for driving an already dirty amp, but they sound lackluster on a clean channel. Gamma Radiation, on the other hand, has very amp-like qualities.

The gain (Level) is 43dB, which means a lot of volume on tap to drive your amp, and I never have it past 12-noon (often less, depending on the gear I’m using and their levels). The Tone control is post, and when working with a dark amp and cab (or IR), I suspect you will not have to drop Tone past 11-o’clock, which means plenty of bottom end for those brittle-sounding amps or bright pickups. Energy is another Tone control that sits between the two clipping stages, for additional tone sculpting.

Now, your gear may be different, but for a modern metal sound I like the Tone up 90% and the Energy all the way down (or nearly so) for full bass/low mids, and with my amp pushing the mids; a very punchy and bold result. Also, Gamma Radiation can run to the front of an amp, but I find it sounds best in an FX Loop, thus making it more of a preamp than a pedal affecting the amp’s preamp (which gives mixed results, depending on the amp). Keep that in mind if you order one, as I found it sounded good in front of my amps, but more organic and powerful in the loop.

Gamma Radiation is a true bypass pedal kit, although build is easily done within 10-15 minutes (no soldering required). Some other details of this pedal include a 6mV input clipping level, 55Hz-7kHz bandwidth, and a 9V (neg center) 4mA power requirement. It retails for $99 USD, direct from www.Hagamps.com, and even includes a 10-year warranty, and so, you’ll know it will last. I’ve reviewed several Hagerman pedals, and this is one of my favorites. I don’t play hard rock or metal exclusively, but I’m a sucker for a pedal that can pull it off, and Gamma Radiation does just that.