Crazy Tube Circuits Stardust V3 Review

Crazy Tube Circuits Stardust V3 Review

A handy revoicing and low-gain overdrive pedal that delivers a fun personality change to many rigs.

Might not be of much use to those not seeking black-panel Fender-style overdrive textures.

Crazy Tube Circuits Stardust V3

The Stardust V3 from Crazy Tube Circuits is yet another pedal surfing the wave of popular amp-in-a-box overdrives. It manages to be a very streamlined take on the concept, but offers a lot of options, too. And though it has fewer knobs than the classic Fender amps it imitates, it offers three distinct amp types in one pedal.

The Stardust has been in the Crazy Tube lineup since the early aughts, but where previous iterations offered a single, generic black-panel overdrive tone, the all-analog Stardust V3 derives its inspiration from three different black-panel Fenders from the ’60s—namely, the Bassman, Vibrolux Reverb, and Deluxe Reverb. It’s an excellent, flexible means of injecting the spirit of those amps into any signal chain and works great as a set-and-forget overdrive, allowing your guitar’s controls to take you from sparkling clean to crunchy mean.

Paint It Black

If you’re new to this maker from Athens, Greece, it bears mentioning (and may be obvious to state) that there are no tubes inside the Stardust V3. But Crazy Tube’s name hints at their considerable knack for distilling the essence of classic tube amps into pedalboard-friendly boxes, and that knack is on display here. The Stardust’s simple control complement offers gain, volume, and tone, while a 3-way toggle selects between BSM/VLX/DLX voicing. The very nice soft-action electronic relay footswitch is true bypass. An internal voltage doubler, meanwhile, takes the 9V DC input up to 18V for increased headroom and output. As such, the Stardust should not be used with a supply of more than 9V DC, which Crazy Tube tells us in the product literature but fails to indicate on the enclosure itself—something we’d like to see to help prevent user error.

California Dreamin’

Whether I paired the Stardust V3 with humbuckers, single-coils, and tweed- or Vox-style amps, it was a tasty tone enhancer and a useful low-gain overdrive pedal in the right applications. Impressively, it can inject three flavors of ’60s-black-panel voicing into amps with a totally different tonal foundation.

Though it might seem pedantic to amp-savvy readers, it’s worth pointing out that the biggest differences between the three Fender amps that inspired the Stardust V3 are found in their output stages and speaker selections. There are two 6L6s and two 10s in a Vibrolux, two 6V6s and one 12″ speaker in the Deluxe, and two 6L6s and two 12s in most Bassman piggyback rigs. Each amp, however, uses a similar preamp. That means their respective personalities are dictated less by front-end differences. That also means the Stardust can accomplish reasonable impersonations of their target personalities via shifts in its core EQ characteristics. And between the three basic voices and the tone control in the Stardust V3, you can achieve many convincing variations on Bassman, Vibrolux, and Deluxe themes.

“Impressively, it can inject three flavors of ’60s-black-panel voicing into amps with a totally different tonal foundation.”

The other primary control for altering the pedal’s character, the gain knob, has a nice, gradual taper that suits its purpose well and enables you to dial-in nuanced shades of clean, semi-clean, and overdrive without sliding too far, too fast. Because none of the Fender amps that served as inspiration here are considered all-out gain machines, the lower-gain overdrive it achieves leaves a lot of headroom to utilize its revoicing and tone-shaping capabilities. That means you can recast the sound of amps that just need extra sparkle and a little grind, even if the transformation isn’t dramatic. I suspect many players will use the Stardust as an always-on OD—particularly because the responsiveness to volume, tone, and touch dynamics is excellent.

The Verdict

The Stardust works its magic best when set for subtle tone and gain transformations. But its capacity for injecting ’60s-black-panel character and low-gain overdrive into amps designed for completely different tonalities is impressive. If black-panel tones aren’t your bag, the Stardust V3 might be little use to you. If they are, you’ll love the simple, straightforward way it can add a dose of ’60s Fullerton feel and tone to almost any rig

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