Caline’s affordable dual gain stage brings transparency and a mid boost to a flexible form factor.
Cost: $69.99 from Amazon.com
Despite relying on many sub-$100 pedals for my personal rig, it isn’t often that many Caline pedals pass through my hands. However, once I saw the Brigade, which was released sometime last year, I knew I had to try one. The Brigade is a dual overdrive pedal, with Caline’s Timmy clone (the Pure Sky) on the right, and their Tube Screamer circuit clone on the left. In the middle, a third footswitch lets you control which pedal comes first in the signal chain. I.e., TS9 on top of a Timmy, or vice versa.
That is an impressive 4 distinct tones in one $70 box. All while saving you an extra 9v and patch cable. On the Timmy side, you do sacrifice the toggle switch on higher end Timmy’s, like the Lyla Drive, but the standard bass and treble controls are still present. The Tube Screamer side is as expected, with a mid-hump flavored OD that is easy to dial in.
Review & Opinion:
I am really pleasantly surprised by the Caline Brigade pedal so far. It is very easy to pull awesome sounds of either side, and it doesn’t sound “cheap” in any regard. The TS side is compressed and rich, with nice sustain and balance. Is it a premier take on the TS808/TS9 circuit? No, but it is faithful and useable circuit design. What the Caline Brigade may lack in novelty or experimentation, it makes up for in value. These overdrives sound great alone, or stacked on top of each other, and can give you everything from subtle boost to searing distortion when cranked. The Brigade is a prime example of a gigging pedal that can take a beating, provide classic tones, but will never be too dear that you’ll fear losing or breaking it. It certainly doesn’t hurt that it actually looks pretty freakin cool for a “cheap” pedal. But I’ll let the demo speak for itself, as there aren’t any unique attempts at circuit bending or creating new sounds to discuss in depth.
Conclusion & Final Score: 8 out of 10
The strong score you see above is a reflection of the great value and functionality that the Brigade brings to the table. Caline has seemingly done the best job of creating cheap but great pedals that won’t quit on you after a few months. You get exactly what you expect, a transparent Timmy overdrive that is a bit lighter, open, and boost-like while the TS9 is compressed and gritty with higher gain. It’s not the best pedal out there, but is incredibly fun and affordable. Those two features alone deserve celebration and I can highly recommend this to beginners, gigging musicians, or dual drive aficionados.