My “SECRET-1” Tone Demo/Review

17 Mar My “SECRET-1” Tone Demo/Review

As my confidence with recording audio and video grows – given all the new technology I have been employing – my hunger for video production grows. Which I hope is going to be good for us.

What interests me much is continuous comparison, A/B among guitars, amplifiers, cabinets, recording techniques and much more. It’s really interesting and I do it a lot on my own.

I’d like though to start publishing more of what I do on my own. So here is a demo of the boost pedal I like the most, among all the ones I tried so far (Klon, MXR 10 bands, Ibanez original 1980s Tubescreamer. RAT and some others).

I am waiting on some other ones coming to me, such as the “box of rock” and two different boosts, a mid boost and a treble boost. Besides all this, you also know that I’m working on the Vega units. So a lot is to come, hopefully.

However, this pedal here is what really flicked the switch in my mind about 10 days ago, when I started to massively test Marshall-Tube-Amps-Input-Channel-Boosting for AC/DC “things”.

Please note: this video is circa 25 minutes long. Sit back, relax and enjoy the show!

secret one movie from SoloDallas on Vimeo.

I believe the reason is the fact that it sounds really good, credible, there is no “suspicion” in the tone I perceive when I use it. Not so with any other pedal. Which is also why I never used pedals consistently in my life. Always been a straight-into-amp kind-of-guy.

This has changed. I will always have this one with me, plus whatever comes out of the whole Vega Project (I suggest we call it the Vega Project lol).

So, after contacting the guys who make this – Luca & Guido @ CloeGuitars – we agreed that a discount could be made for the members of solodallas.com. So if you intend even to just get a price quote from them (English is welcome) please remember to mention you are a registered member of solodallas.com and please provide your user name for them to check. I’ll be posting this video on youtube as well, so some interested people may come from there, too. Non registered members will not get a discount. EDIT: Been told that some requests have already landed. Pretty cool, I like to be “trustable”. Now, the guys ask that anyone go directly to www.secretefx.com for price quotes, more info etc. Thank you!

Why this you may wonder? To make a network, I may answer you.

My ambitions for solodallas.com are high. I really want to conquer the web. I think we have a lot to give as a community and as single individuals. So, exchanging favors between businesses (as happens with Aracom and may happen with Metro and who knows what more) is – I think – the way to start. This could eventually also bring a stream of money to solodallas.com, hopefully, helping its survival without my constant injection of resources.

Let me state clearly that you do not have to buy this because I said so. There’s readers of all ages here at solodallas.com, and I fear that you among the younger ones may be inclined to do things just because people you trust tell you to. Please do not unless you are certain that you like what you hear here. Please also remember that Clean Boost pedals work well with (some) tube amps. I only tested this on Marshall amps (new and old). Feel free to bombard me with questions at any time. I’ll do my best as always to answer you.

The thought of suggesting something for purchase always terrifies me, as the last thing on earth I want is you spending your money on something you don’t need or don’t like.

Having said this though, I would re-purchase this boost immediately. Best boost ever heard/tried.

This demo was shot on a ’79 Marshall 2203 recently re-tubed and re-biased (all my amps are going through this process now) and finally converted to 220 mains. Cabinet is the now restored 1969 1960A with original Pre-Rola G12Ms 25 watts. This cabinet has instantly become my favorite one among all the ones I have (3). So much that I purchased a set of 4 more original Pre-Rola G12Ms from 1969 that I found for sale at the MarshallForum.com.

Guitars played – for no specific reason, just for variety – are the wrongly stated 1961 SG Standard (I call it a 1961 still in my mind but it’s a ’62, only minor differences involved), a 1969 Standard and a 1967 Standard with a Di Marzio pickup from the 1980s (I believe the pickup type is a Super Distortion).

Microphone used was just one (the usual large diaphragm condenser AT4047), on axis but off center, slightly below the cone centre and slightly on the right side of it. This not only captures much of the nuances happening inside the cabinet (terrific things go on internally on a 4×12 cabinet), but decreases some excess high frequencies coming from the centre of the cone, etc.

Little processing was done on post; mainly just reverb.

You will notice that the video starts with guitar audio coming in from camera only, for a few seconds. Then coming in from microphone only (correctly, as intended) for the rest of the video. This was due to a ProTools glitch which started for some reason delayed recording. Sorry for this.

The noise you hear when on camera audio (essentially on speech) is a fan that I run inside the lab when heat from multiple sources (computers, amplifiers, attenuator, 27″ computer screen, …) becomes simply unbearable.

You can’t hear it from the microphone, but you will hear it from the camera audio.

The sort of delay on the speech is due to different synchro of the speech audio coming from the camera and the one coming from the microphone. There is no delay added in pre or post to the audio.

Here’s some pictures for you:

SECRET-1 front and back (blue light on = unit is on).

This unit comes into a Military Box (real military gear) made of sturdy metal. Qualititavie construction. Black box underneath is not part of the product but only used as a photo shoot stand for the unit.

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Microphone position and 1960A vintage cabinet:

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A couple of 1970s Marshall 2203s (on top, 1979, used for this review; bottom, 1977)

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Fil "SoloDallas" Olivieri

We Are Rock 'N Roll People.

  • avatar
    Posted at 09:32h, 16 September

    HAHA, just ordered a dimarzio super-distortion, because that ’67 SG is giving me goose bumps everytime i listen to it, through a decent pair of headphones. NEVER heard something more teriffic than that guitar, even without the boost, PERIOD!

    • avatar
      Posted at 17:42h, 16 September

      scrap the dimarzio and get the Replica instead!! 😀

      • avatar
        Posted at 23:40h, 16 September

        yes :-D…. i will definetly get the replica-pedal, but just imagine what there is possible with such a guitar and the replica….one may not like the pickup, but it’s also personal taste. I’m very curious if it will work fine, i already have a SD SH-5 custom pickup in one sg, also high-ouput. i think i like it to have a high-output pickup and turn the volume-knob a little down, and if you need to burn your speakers, just turn it up! 😀

  • avatar
    Posted at 17:25h, 30 April

    Solodallas Hey! You who masters the sound AC / DC, do you know a Guitar pedal or another reference cheaper (for a tube amp Vox for example). For Marshall and references Secret 1 are not very accessible to level prices.
    Thank you in advance …

  • avatar
    Posted at 23:51h, 06 March

    I’ll never be tired to go in this page , and watch the video , starting after 22:41 , just to hear that ’67 burning those G12M speakers!!
    Such an AMAZING guitar , best one I’v ever heard!
    Cheerz Fil!
    See ya!

    • avatar
      Posted at 07:38h, 07 March

      It’s true, it’s a very special one. Light and playable.
      And that original Di Marzio Super Distortion has character. I should play it more 😆

  • avatar
    Posted at 04:42h, 20 January

    Fil Im confused on what speakers to get please help… im wondering if i should get regular G12M 25 watt greenbacks or the G12M heritage 20 watt speakers for my 2204 heres the link http://www.guitarcenter.com/New-Gear.gc?internal=1&src=G12m ….. the 25 watt doesnt say made in england but the heritage greenbacks do PLEASE HELP or should I get the G12-65s ? what speaker do you prefer with your 2204 please help thanks

  • avatar
    Posted at 03:02h, 18 January

    Im confused on what speakers to get please help… im wondering if i should get regular G12M 25 watt greenbacks or the G12M heritage 20 watt speakers for my 2204 hers the link http://www.guitarcenter.com/New-Gear.gc?internal=1&src=G12m ….. the 25 watt doesnt say made in england but the heritage greenbacks do PLEASE HELP

    • avatar
      Posted at 08:05h, 18 January

      The 2204 is really bright, so I would rather go for a mid-focused speaker like G12-65. Will give you an awesome tone, have the same 2204/G12-65 combination here.

      • avatar
        Posted at 04:47h, 20 January

        do you have anything recorded or posted of the 2204/G12-65

  • avatar
    Posted at 06:46h, 12 August

    Nice job, man. I really prefer the tone you get with your first SG without the boost. It’s got a nice chirp-quality. ‘Great tone.

  • avatar
    Posted at 23:12h, 09 August

    Hey Fil! That 67′ has an AMAZING TONE!! Its just unbelievable what noise that guitar do!
    Im planning to buy a 69′ SG with PAF T-Tops on , its the year I most like , no volute , 68′ pots , amp style knobs and knob pointer , no Made in USA stamp , original dual-ring tunners , vibrola and large bat wing pickguard…..
    See ya!!

  • avatar
    Posted at 21:36h, 17 June

    Great tone! =1/3 gear +1/3 skill + 1/3 heart and soul.

  • avatar
    Posted at 17:13h, 07 June

    Fil as for pedal is there a difference between the std and ltd model?

  • avatar
    Posted at 20:35h, 06 June

    I like the way you describe that vos like its got angus very soul in it..
    so one comment for the tone test out of the three you played realy hands down your 61 has a soul a pulse and that difined character it amplifies your abilities in the sound alone all the extra crunchs and tone is incredible!!!
    my 2 cent is can definatly pick out the real deal I mean that sound that Angus had early on the realy realy good stuff…
    do you got any vids with the angus vos and the secret-1?

  • avatar
    Posted at 09:15h, 06 June

    fil so your thoughts on the new vos angus
    ? would or did you get yours plek’ed
    and 50 diy wiring
    set your humbucker up tall
    yeh im new here and am like a kid in a candy store
    I have and am learning more than i dreamed realy its amazing the info your sharing and im lucky i found this sight

    • avatar
      Posted at 18:10h, 06 June

      Well, at times I don’t like it, other times I love it. The fact is that it really is a “strange” guitar. Unlike any other SG I have. It even sounds different. Darker. But it has a very powerful output, plus low action, so it’s nice to play. I used it here because of the higher output pickups; would sound closer to the real deal. The PU is set as high as it goes, just below the strings. Not sure about the wiring, but I don’t think it is 50s wired. I think it is 60s wired, but will have to check. RIght now I am in San Diego, CA, and I don’t have that one with me. 🙂

  • avatar
    Posted at 05:23h, 06 June

    Phil so when i get my 2203 and the secret -1
    do you do anything to mod your amp or guitar?

    • avatar
      Posted at 18:11h, 06 June

      I think the 2203 sounds terrific as stock, so wouldn’t mod it. Modding the guitar is another thing; I usually mod the new ones (change hardware, pickups, etc.)

      • avatar
        Posted at 12:17h, 07 June

        Fil I noticed 2 extra holes next to the inputs on your 79 2203. One is plugged and the other has a knob. Is this an additional master volume?

  • avatar
    Posted at 05:44h, 28 May

    Hi Fil i am just want to say great web site and info on playing have you ever thought about playing some classic zz top it sure does fit your tone and style

  • avatar
    Posted at 22:14h, 06 April

    i think that “noise” what you mean is just the pure power auf honduras mahagony-wood in combination with high-output humbuckers! 🙂
    a les paul would even make more of that “oink,woink” what you mean!
    its just a sign of really good resonatin’ wood. huh?

  • avatar
    Posted at 05:33h, 31 March

    Hey Fil. Thanks for the great review. I’m saving my $$ to hopefully buy the SECRET-1 in a few weeks.

    I was wondering about your Marshall settings – specifically, the Presence knob. I always thought Angus kept the presence knob at “0”? Do you find more is needed to capture his tone?

    Lastly, what tubes are you using in your 2203?

    Thanks and keep rockin’!

    • avatar
      Posted at 22:24h, 06 April

      in my opinion presence at 0 sounds awful. not even close to angus, who definitly uses his presence knob, why the hell he should not? presence to 0 sounds like playin’ behind a wall with some speakers and its not the same to put more treble into it, while presence is kept down. this are not the same frequencies! you can hear that. take time and try your own high-voltage settings! 🙂

  • avatar
    Umberto Mora
    Posted at 23:17h, 25 March

    Grande Fil…

  • avatar
    Posted at 07:33h, 22 March

    Fil, did you have any modifications done to the preamp sections of your 2204 or 2203 or are they Marshall stock? I have a 1987 that was modded by Bray to copy yours, I am hoping I can make it work, and I would like to know your settings on the Bray 1987 including the master and preamp.
    P.S. I am ordering a Secret-1.
    Thanks for your time.
    Mike from Ohio USA

  • avatar
    Posted at 11:09h, 19 March

    OK, the Marshall Bluesbraker BB II just arrived and I tested for about 5 mins, and I have to say that the result blows my mind!!!
    the tone is much more “in your face” although the gain level is the same as before. but the mids are much more dominant, it gives the JMP even at MV 1,75 a lot more energy!!!

  • avatar
    Posted at 13:45h, 18 March


  • avatar
    Posted at 12:25h, 18 March

    Ahhh! I finally learn how to use a pedal properly, and my amplifier chooses to break down.

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