The Bard is an homage to one of our favorite misunderstood amplifiers of the past: the Music Man HD130. Manufactured from 1974 to 1984, these amps combined a solid state preamp with a tube power amp, an unusual choice that lead to them being gravely underrated in their time. But the HD130 and its siblings are some of our favorite amps thanks to their pristine (but not quite vintage) clean tones, trashy overdrive, and very wide frequency response that suits both guitar and bass. Because we love a weird passion project, we editorialized our favorite parts of this cult classic into a compact overdrive pedal: The Bard.
The Bard’s circuitry resembles a classic 1960s American amplifier reimagined with op amps in the place of tubes. The clean tones are clear and sparkly, with a gentle dip in the midrange thanks to the passive tone stack. Increasing Drive delivers medium gain sounds with a glassy edge, especially when the Bright switch is active. At the highest Drive settings, the op amps distort in a way that is unapologetically not “tube-like”—a hallmark of the original amps. The tone stack is located before the primary gain stage and can emphasize specific textures within the overdriven sound. The Bard is a versatile performer that will effortlessly traverse between traditional and angular stylings.