The Klon Centaur is considered the ultimate overdrive pedal by many. Produced by engineer Bill Finnegan between 1994 and 2008, this pedal had the unique ability of recreating the harmonically rich distortion of a guitar amp at a high volume. It was very responsive and transparent as well.
The Klon Centaur became a staple among some of the best-known guitar players, including legends like Jeff Beck, Joe Perry, Andy Summers, Matt Schofield, and John Mayer. Demand became so high that Finnegan was not able to keep up.
With high production costs, an inability to expand to meet demand, and a weak profit margin, Finnegan finally decided to stop producing them. He produced roughly 8000 units, and those can be found for about 2000 dollars on secondary markets.
Other pedal companies took notice and decided to attempt to replicate the traits of the Centaur Klon. With so many copies to choose from, how do you make sense of the current options? We’re here to help. Keep reading.
Features: Internal charge pump, Authentic Klon type diodes, Treble control
Benefits: Precise top end EQ, Super transparent tone, Preserves guitar/amp character
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Features: Selectable true/buffered bypass, Incudes 9v power supply, Boosted power rails
Benefits: Enhanced Tone and Dynamics, Easy sound shaping, Superb note definition
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Features: All metal construction, Output/treble/gain controls, Direct Klon circuit copy
Benefits: Super creamy overdrive, Takes minimal pedalboard space, Built like a tank
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- Our Top 3
- Individual Reviews
- How To Choose The Right Pedal For You
- Final Thoughts
Our Top 3
The Electro-Harmonix Soul Food is our Top Pick for this list. This pedal features a superb drive control to take you from a clean boost to fully-saturated distortion sound with quality and transparent tone and is also very responsive to your playing.
The Mosky Golden Horse is our Best Budget pick. It comes in an undersized and well-built enclosure and does not color the tone of your guitar as you increase the saturation.
Finally, the Rockett Audio Designs Archer Ikon Boost is our Editor’s Choice. This pedal uses specific diodes on its clipping circuit and can faithfully reproduce the sound of a Klon Centaur. making it ideal for discerning guitarists.
A straightforward pedal with tons of attitude.
This overdrive unit comes with all of the features that have made Electro Harmonix a praised company in the guitar effects market. With a fantastic tone, superior build quality, and EHX identity to it, this pedal is excellent for the current player that appreciates quality and simplicity.
The Electro-Harmonix Soul Food Amp comes with a great drive control that can produce a splendid clean boost and also take you to a fully-saturated distortion sound with quality and ease.
In a true EHX manner, this pedal is very intuitive with touch responsiveness to add remarkable nuance to your playing. In our tests, the Electro Harmonix Soul Food displayed great clean headroom on its volume.
We were able to boost the front end of our Fender Blues Jr amp and drive it hard while maintaining the tone of the instruments we used for this test ( a Silversky and an ES-335).
This pedal is very versatile, and we loved it as a clean boost and overdrive. We even took it to a very distorted tone with tons of growl and sustain.
Another excellent feature is that you can select to increase or decrease high frequencies through its treble control. We were able to dial in the tone we wanted with remarkable precision, maintaining it naturally when we wanted, or exaggerating when required.
While testing various setups, we drove the Drive knob up and heard how our mids thickened to deliver a contemporary distorted sound that remained balanced and consistent.
This stompbox is built with proven EXH toughness and is powered via an included 9 V power supply. In short, a great-sounding, versatile and overall fantastic Klone-like pedal that delivers the goods.
Verdict: The Electro-Harmonix Soul Food can take care of your distortion tones as it offers fantastic quality and versatility. You can use it as a boost, or an overdrive, and this pedal can certainly be used in a variety of modern contexts.
A simple overdrive/distortion solution that delivers the goods.
This pedal comes with a no-nonsense approach to overdrive and distortion and does a good job of approximating a Klon. With great build quality and a small footprint, this pedal is very affordable and intuitive.
The Mosky Golden Horse features a transparent overdrive in the style of a Klon Centaur, but at a fraction of the cost of most clones. It comes in a very small but durable enclosure, ideal for folks that are not only on a budget but also have very limited space on their pedal boards.
This pedal features a nice design with a centaur image decal on a gold paint job, and a diminutive layout with three knobs: Output, Trebble and Gain.
We put this pedal to the test by pairing it up with our Les Paul and Deluxe Reverb amp. We set the Output at 11 o’clock, Trebble at 12 o’clock, and the gain at 11 o’clock. We got a full overdrive tone that can rival many overdrive pedals at double the price.
It was fairly intuitive to use the Mosky Golden Horse. With only three knobs, there was not much we had to do to get a good sound. We then tried a more aggressive distortion by turning the output up to 3 o’clock and the treble to 2 o’clock.
We got fantastic sustain and a balanced distorted tone that were impressive considering the price of this unit. This pedal is capable of handling many contexts and genres, as well as providing pronounced distortion when required.
It also does a great job at overdrive, making it a versatile pedal that is also very easy to use. Additionally, the Mosky Golden Horse also comes with a true bypass footswitch.
In short, this is a fantastic option as a Klon clon for those on a budget. Not only does it offer good overdrive and distortion, but it is also easy to use and comes housed in a durable, compact, metal shell.
Verdict: The Mosky Golden Horse is a great choice for beginners and folks that want a nice overdrive/distortion pedal that is easy to use, as well as folks with very cramped pedal boards. This unit also comes at a price that is surprisingly low given its quality and is also a great option for a tight pedalboard given its small size.
A fantastic clone of the Centaur Klon, for the discerning player.
With superior sound quality and great build, this pedal is a warm and versatile Centaur Klon clone. It can give you everything from tube-like distortion to a very transparent sound.
The Rockett Audio Designs Archer Ikon Boost is a great clone of the legendary Klon Centaur pedal. The distinctive sound of these pedals relies partly on specific diodes used in the clipping circuit, and the Ikon Boost can reproduce this sound faithfully.
The construction on this pedal comes with a straightforward and uncomplicated 3-knob layout. The Output knob handles the volume level, and the treble knob can take your sound from dark to bright. Besides, the Gain knob controls how much distortion you want to dial in.
Although the tone of this pedal is unique, it is also very malleable and versatile. We got everything from warm overdrive to tube-like distortion during our tests and were able to hear the true essence of ou guitar regardless of what we dialed in.
We got fantastic distortion with amazing sustain when we set the output knob at 10 o’clock, treble at 2 o’clock, and gain at 1 o’clock. We spend quite some time here going from riff to riff, with a beautifully balanced yet powerful crunch. Power chords are sounded great in this setting, which can come in handy in a variety of contexts.
The Archer Ikon Boost is easy to use and features a simple and intuitive design. This pedal sounded amazing and very transparent, allowing the true tone of the guitar to come through at all times.
This pedal works with a 9-volt power adaptor but you can choose to change its voltage to 18 volts. Simply said, a superior recreation of one of the most beloved pedals from the 90s, and a great choice for dedicated professionals.
Verdict: The Rockett Audio Designs Archer Ikon Boost is a great clone of the famed Klon Centaur pedal. It features transparent sound and can give you everything from sweet overdrive to aggressive distortion with tons of sustain. Although it features a distinctive sound and personality, it is also very versatile.
Quality, authenticity, and versatility in one sturdy pedal.
Wampler is known for creating high-quality pedals for connoisseurs. This unit builds on the success of its predecessor by delivering all the greatness of the original Tumnus pedal, with the added versatility of this Deluxe version.
The Wampler Tumnus Deluxe Transparent Overdrive pedal is based on this company’s famous Tumnus pedal and can be thought of as an updated take on a Klon overdrive.
The Tumnus Deluxe is a full-sized pedal, as opposed to its smaller predecessor. Wampler had to increase the footprint of this pedal in order to accommodate the various additional features that come with this Deluxe version.
This pedal features the three controls from the original Tumnus, volume, gain and treble. Although these three controls are capable of faithfully recreating the sounds of the iconic Klon circuit, this pedal goes a bit further.
Wampler opted to include some new features to make the Tumnus Deluxe more versatile and usable across a wide range of styles. This new version has an active mid and bass control in order to give you the great tones from the original and allow you to further sculpt your sound if need be.
We started our tests by trying out these new features. Using the active mid and bass control, we were able to push the tone of the Tumnus Deluxe to drive our clean amp. We then pushed it all to way to the clipping point where we got everything from smooth overdrive to powerful distortion.
We loved how this pedal allowed us to pick between a buffered or true bypass, and we got a true uncolored tone by simply pressing the button on the side of the pedal.
This pedal also comes with a normal/hot switch on the front side. When set on Normal, we got the same gain structure as its predecessor. However, when we switched it to Hot, we got ferocious high gain once we turned the gain knob past 12 o’clock.
In short, a fantastic Klon clone that is truly versatile. As good as it is, some may prefer a simpler and more affordable option.
Verdict: The Wampler Tumnus Deluxe Transparent Overdrive picks up where the original Tumnus left off. Not only is it a great Klon clone, but also adds new features to make this pedal truly versatile for a variety of styles and situations.
A well designed, inexpensive and Klon-inspired pedal.
Harby Pedals is a relatively new player in the pedal game. This unit is a great presentation for the company, as it delivers Klone-like tones with a simple operation and intuitive design. This pedal is well built and comes at an affordable price.
The Harby Centauri is a clean boost and overdrive pedal that offers a wide range of sounds, inspired by the legendary Klon pedal. It offers the user variety by being able to provide a straightforward volume boost, amp breakup tone, and even tube-amp overdriven tone. In other words, a very useful pedal for many genres and situations.
You can think of this pedal as a modernized but accurate take on the Klon. In order to be a competitive Klon clon, Centauri’s construction and design employs very high-quality components. These include a gold-plated PCB (ENIG), 1n34a germanium clipping diodes, solid anodized aluminum knobs, as well as Neutrik I/O.
This pedal comes in an unassuming but effective design with Volume, Drive, and Tone knobs, as well as a buffered bypass. The Centauri is very well built and features a slick design and overall appearance.
We started our test by using this pedal as a boost. We turned the Dial knob all the way down and would switch the pedal on and off, and got an uncolored tone all the way through.
With the Drive knob at about 3 o’clock and the tone at noon, we got a warm overdrive that was indeed reminiscent of the Klon. Dialing the Drive knob further up, we were on that tube overdrive zone that was also very Klon-like. This is impressive for a pedal that costs less than 150 dollars.
The Centauri operates with a 9 volts power supply for convenience when used with a pedal board. In short, a well-designed pedal that offers good Klon like-tones for the money. That said, professionals that need more authenticity may want to look elsewhere.
Verdict: The Harby Centauri offers you clean boost and overdrive pedal in the vein of the Klon. Although this is a new company, they deliver the goods with this pedal. Well-built, simple to use, and with great tones, the Centauri is a great deal for the money.
A detailed replica of the original Klon Centaur
Ryra took every detail into consideration when designing this Klon copy. The result is a superior copy of one of the most revered overdrive pedals in history, ideal for folks who value every aspect of the original.
The Ryra Klone is a carefully crafted clone of the legendary Klon Centaur. The design on this pedal is basically identical to the original Klon, with a rectangular chassis featuring a Gain, Treble and Output knob.
And just like the original Klon, this pedal has its footswitch on the lower right-hand corner of the unit and is built to withstand the rigors of the road. In other words, Ryra went the distance to make this an authentic copy.
We tried this pedal using our Strat plugged into our Deluxe Reverb amp. We tried everything from a slight overdrive all the way to tube-like overdrive and loved the results.
This pedal was capable of adding gain to our tone without noticeably affecting the tone. This is one of the main features for which the original Klon was so revered, and the Ryra Klone was able to duplicate it.
And just like the original, this pedal was fantastic at pushing the preamp of our amp that created a beautiful and natural overdriven sound. As far as its operation, the Ryra Klone was just as simple and intuitive as the Klon Centaur.
Unlike the original Klon, this pedal comes in four different colors, just in case you want a bit of uniqueness on the visual aspect. In short, a great pedal that recreates the Klon experience faithfully.
Verdict: The Ryra Klone does a great job at replicating the sound, behavior, and user experience of the original Klon. With a durable rectangular chassis and separate Gain, Treble, and Output knobs, this pedal is a fantastic choice for those that want to get a fantastic Klon clone.
A small pedal that brings Klone tone to tight pedal boards.
A straightforward Klon copy in a much smaller form factor for convenience. The NUX Horseman is a great option for folks with limited pedal board space but that want to get a fantastic Klon-inspired overdrive.
The NUX Horseman is as simple as it gets, as it features a simple switch and three control knobs: Gain, Treble and Output. This is exactly what you’d get from the original Klon, with the difference being that the Horseman is significantly smaller than the original.
This pedal does a good job of combining both the Gold and Silver versions of the Klon. In other words, you get a clean boost (Gold), and you can also drive the front end of your amp into distortion (Silver). This is done via the on/off switch which changes the mode from the Silver traits to Gold.
We began our tests in Gold mode, setting the Gain at 8 o’clock, with the output at 1 o’clock and the treble at noon. We got fantastic overdrive that can be used in a variety of contexts, from rock to blues and well beyond that.
We then switched to Silver mode, pushed the gain and got a beautiful breakup tube tone that made the Klon legendary. Our guitar tone retained a good amount of transparency, while the overdrive was warm and quite useful for many styles.
This pedal also comes with true bypass and buffer bypass and operates via a 9 V power adaptor. In short, a nice choice for a Klon copy that comes in a small yet durable form factor.
Verdict: The NUX Horseman offers a diminutive and good-sounding solution for folks looking for an affordable Klon copy. This pedal comes with two modes and is simple to use, well-built and versatile.
How To Choose The Right Pedal For You
Unless you have an extra 2 K laying around, your best option to get a Klon-like sound and operation is to opt for a Klon copy. But in order to know what to get, we first need to understand what the Centaur Klon does.
Typically, I’d advise you to go out and try one. However, these iconic pedals are extremely hard to find unless you lay down a couple of thousand dollars, which brings us back to square one.
The popularity of the Klon Centaur
Original Klon builder Bill Finnegan stated that the hard-clipping 1N34A germanium diodes were the main reason for the pedal’s unique overdrive. However, waveform analysis revealed that the impact of these diodes on the pedal’s sound was not that great. The same result was obtained with listening tests conducted by specialists.
When dialed in at the maximum Gain this pedal produces a sort of square-wave distortion, produced by clipping inside the op-amp. Although this is certainly a major part of the popularity of the Klon, it is the touch sensitivity that made it a legendary piece of gear.
The Klon Sound
The Klon’s circuit employed two filter networks to create a clean blend. The first circuit on the Klon is controlled by the dual gain control. When you increase the gain, a filtered clean signal running in parallel is lowered in amplitude, and vice-versa. Players using this pedal at lower gain settings love the seemingly absolutely clean boost that the Klon is capable of.
The second network adds more thickness to the tone and applies a low-pass filter to the clean tone which is blended with the distorted sound. Each of these waveforms is very different and it’s their combination that makes the Centaur Klon so appealing.
All of the above is to say in part that you don’t need the exact parts in order to create an authentic Klon clone. Take for instance the diodes: they don’t need to be the same exact ones as in the original as they don’t have that great an impact on the end result.
The original Klone was also known to stack really well with other pedals. This is true, especially at lower gain levels, which is another important consideration to keep in mind.
Another important consideration is that the original Klon had a buffer that guitar players truly loved and some even considered it reason enough to have this pedal. Most copies are either buffered bypass or allow you to select between buffered and true bypass, so you can have the best of both worlds.
Last but not least, the original Klon came in a rather large chassis, which is a major inconvenience in the current world of cramped pedalboards. Luckily, most Klon clones have significantly reduced the size of their pedals in comparison to the original, thus adapting it to a more real-world scenario while giving them a nice Klon sound.
Although you’d have to be really lucky (or rich) in order to try the orginal Centaur Klon, you can definitely test out some copies. Hearing it live and dialing up different sounds is usually the best way to decide for yourself which pedal suits you. So get out there and try out some Klon clones!
The Klon Centaur is among the most sought-after pedals for very valid reasons. Besides the fact that this pedal commands astronomical prices as it is no longer in production, it offers a unique overdrive that resembles a cranked tube amp on the verge of breakup.
This pedal found favor among many guitar legends because of its transparent quality and ability to keep the guitar tone uncolored even at higher distortion settings. The fact that the Klon is also very responsive to the player’s touch is arguably its greatest feature.
To recap our choices, the Electro-Harmonix Soul Food is Our Pick, with a great drive control, transparent tone, and highly responsive quality.
The Mosky Golden Horse is our Best Budget pick, with its diminutive size, and the ability to preserve the true tone of your guitar even at higher distortion levels.
Finally, the Rockett Audio Designs Archer Ikon Boost is our Editor’s Choice, as it can faithfully reproduce the sound of a Klon Centaur, and features higher overall quality.