After adding this to my rig, I can't imagine playing without it. Sustain for days, super flexible compression, and some great sounding distortion. No matter what kind of music you play, you need this in your life!
The more I use the Pigtronix Philosopher King, the more I discover it does. This pedal is by no means a "one trick pony." Every time, it helps bring out more creativity in my guitar playing as I explore new territories.
Esoteric, Quirky, and Ineffable
The Pigtronix Philosopher King (PK) is an odd duck. Before I get into that, let me say outright that the PK is well-implemented, big and transparent sounding, and gorgeously constructed. The PK opens up a lot of unusual possibilities including: (1) 'Slow Gear' types of enveloped volume swells, (2) stuttery volume tremolo, (4) near infinite sustain, (5) envelope controlled 'bowed' or 'plucked' or 'volume knob flutter' antics, and (6) low frequency oscillator (LFO)-sounding volume modulations. Oh, and you also get a nice sounding treble boost, a great optical compressor that sounds like a million bucks, and a 'grit' control that adds overdrive, harmonic excitement, and transient attack.
This isn't a pedal for everyone and dialing in your sounds takes a little patience (reading the manual helps, also, just messing with the PK will teach you a lot as well). However, for the more adventurous types looking for something different, the PK is an excellent choice. Like other Pigtronix devices it sounds big and full, is constructed to exacting standards, and can process a wide variety of signal types from instrument level guitar to line level keyboards.
The Pigtronix Philosopher King is a prime pedal on my board.
The capabilities of the Philosopher King by Pigtronix are amazing. This is the third Pigtronix pedal and is a favorite. I originally got this pedal for its sustain capabilities, which by the way are quite superior to the sustain any other pedal I have in my collection, but I have come to really like the "grit," "swell" and "fade" features as well. It works well with the Echolution and Tremvelope pedals, which all together, create an exciting landscape of sound. I wish Pigtronics would do a more thorough job with their user's guide as these are quite complicated pedals to use and require you to do a lot of experimenting to get a feel for their use. Other than that, I am very pleased with the quality metal construction, and amazing sound, all with little background noise evident.
Here Piggy, Piggy
At first I didn't like the King because it doesn't have an attack knob, but it still sounds great - a very sweet sound which adds professional sustain - and boost - to the signal.
I am very glad I bought it. To me, a compressor stomper at the front of the chain is mandatory, especially if you have passive pickups.
For the longest itme I ignored the Swell and Fade functions on this abnormally feature-rich unit, unit I plugged an EHX Q-balls envelope filter in front of the Pig and turned on the Pig's 'Swell' function:
The EHX also is a great pedal, and these two together sounded like my foot was actually working a screaming Wah pedal,
with high-grade volume and filter envelopes perfectly encasing the sound.
I am a Pigtronix believer now. One cannot do better.
Can't Live Without It
Hello Tone Fanatics
This pedal is the cornerstone of my board for the last 2 years.
First and foremost, the compression feature is fantastic. I have it compared to several other notable compressors on the market and in my opinion this gives you the most sustain with the least amount of noise. I always keep the compressor on. I like to keep the volume at 12 o'clock and adjust the treble, sustain, and compression levels depending on the guitar/pick-ups I'm using at the time. I place it at the very beginning of my signal chain (even before wah and fuzz) and it makes every other pedal perform better.
The swell feature can create synth and pedal-steel type effects as advertised, but I have found it can act like a noise suppressor/gate. As many guitar players who are not used to compression have a hard time dealing with the extra noise/feedback that compressors can often create. If you turn the swell all the way down to its fastest setting and turn the hold volume anywhere from 9-12 you get a subtle "gate" effect that lets you stay clean while having unlimited sustain. This really lets you crank up the compression sustain and play notes that last for days without any unwanted noise.
I use the Fade function mainly as a synth tremolo effect. getting your speed right can take some time. so using an expression pedal to change the speed on the fly is a good option here. This will not replace the need for a classic tremolo if that's what your into, but by playing with the hold volume you can get it to sound more natural.
As for the grit function, I can take or leave it. If there was a separate foot-switch to engage it, then I would be more apt to use it, but I don't want to be playing with my knobs too much while gigging. (Anyone who has a pedal of this caliber probably has better overdrive options on their board.
If you plug your expression pedal into the CV voltage, then your expression pedal acts just like a volume pedal. That's a lot of fun, but you do lose some functionality of the swell and fade functions when doing this.
The only reason I didn't give it a full 5 stars is that it requires 18V, and the light on my engage switch can some times be finicky.
The Combination of features is so well thought out. I love this pedal.
This Pedal Really IS the King
There's a bit of a learning curve on this pedal because of all the awesome features it contains, but it is worth your money if you love great tone. I love everything about this pedal (except the Grit dial, which is awful). Seriously. Do your homework, then come back and buy this pedal!
To correct an earlier reviewer in order to avoid misinformation, the Philosopher King does in fact have an attack control. Adjust your attack with the Swell knob.