Hot Cake users: what's your approach to dialing it in?

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bipedal2
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Hot Cake users: what's your approach to dialing it in?

Post by bipedal2 » Wed May 15, 2024 6:24 am

I've had my Crowther Hot Cake for a couple of years and I find I haven't yet mastered finding a magical sweet spot tone. It's full range, it can be soft and smooth or gritty and gnarly, but to my ears it sounds less "focused" than other pedals I've tinkered with as the Drive is turnd up, even when the Presence knob is rolled past 3 o'clock.

Hot Cake into a Fairfield Barbershop seems to give more definition and is a combination I'm liking right now, but wondering if I'm missing some nuance in my approach to the Hot Cake as a standalone...

I'm primarily playing an AV62 JM and either a Fender Pro Jr or mid-70's Fender Champ.

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Re: Hot Cake users: what's your approach to dialing it in?

Post by Jonesie » Wed May 15, 2024 11:44 am

I have a clone of a double hot cake and it doesn't have any of the switches or anything, but I generally use it as a light drive / boost. Presence around 9 o'clock, gain at 11 o'clock, volume to taste. When the gain is up it can get pretty woolly.

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Re: Hot Cake users: what's your approach to dialing it in?

Post by andy_tchp » Wed May 15, 2024 3:14 pm

On mine (20+ years old, presence toggle and nothing else) it turns into a very thick sound once the drive hits 2 o'clock, which is about the limit of what I found usable without losing all the details, going into big clean Fender amps back when it was the main distortion pedal I used. Still able to clean up with picking dynamics too.

These days it's somewhere between/around 12 and 1 o'clock for both, I use a Rat or EHX Metal Muff if I want the heavier distortion sounds.
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Re: Hot Cake users: what's your approach to dialing it in?

Post by stevejamsecono » Wed May 15, 2024 4:08 pm

My general understanding is that these were made specifically with AC30s in mind and given that, why the general characteristics of Fender amps might be less suitable for them. Not to say they can't be used, but I have to imagine the pointy EQ of the Top Boost channel of a Vox would probably love the Hot Cake.
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Re: Hot Cake users: what's your approach to dialing it in?

Post by andy_tchp » Wed May 15, 2024 5:24 pm

The whole 'designed specifically for Vox amps' thing seems to be 'accepted internet wisdom' that isn't actually accurate. I have never seen or heard anything from Paul himself indicating that this was the case.

At the time of development (1976!) Vox amps were rare in New Zealand due to extremely high import tariffs leading to very inflated retail prices. Ditto Fender and Marshall.

You'd be far more likely to encounter locally manufactured amplifiers by Jansen/Holden/Fountain. Plenty of these were inspired by Fender's offerings amongst other circuits.

That Phil Judd happened to be using AC30s when trying out the first built circuit seems to have led to the idea of the pedal being specifically designed for those amps 'growing legs'.

The actual design/intent is still noted on his website:
The Hotcake is designed to leave the undistorted component of the guitar sound unchanged, while providing a nice fat distortion sound without resorting to a treble cut circuit which will also affect the guitar tonality.
They can and do sound great with Fender amps. And Marshalls. Probably Oranges, and any number of boutique amps too.



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Last edited by andy_tchp on Thu May 16, 2024 2:51 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Hot Cake users: what's your approach to dialing it in?

Post by andy_tchp » Wed May 15, 2024 5:33 pm

Great interview/write up here:
audioculture.co.nz - Paul Crowther’s Hotcakes
Back in New Zealand, his stint in the Enz over, Crowther began making a few pedals for local musicians. “Waves guitarist Graham Gash had one of the very early pedals.”

Keen to return to playing drums, Crowther soon got a new band together. The group was brainstorming name ideas when Doug Rogers from Harlequin studios suggested The Hotcakes. Paul thought the name was perfect, but not for the band.

“That’s what I am going to call my pedals – The Hotcake! – Thanks! That is how the name came about. Named in 1977.”

The Hotcake, although now happily named, was still very much a sideline for Crowther. He continued doing front of house sound for bands while making pedals in his spare time. “I was just making them very casually at the time, just making them here and there. Split Enz was back in town, and by this time Neil [Finn] was in the band. He had a custom-made pedal he needed repairing, but I couldn’t do it quickly because all the parts were bogged up with epoxy! I gave him the Hotcake to try, and he bought one. He still has that original one. I sold a few to people touring from overseas, who would call me up and get one if they were in town. Much later on, I would go to the soundchecks of touring bands with a pedal for them to try.”
"I don't know why we asked him to join the band 'cause the rest of us don't like country music all that much; we just like Graham Lee."
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Re: Hot Cake users: what's your approach to dialing it in?

Post by Fac 50 » Thu May 16, 2024 5:26 am

I use it 2 ways with Strat/Tele/Jag/JM into a Vibrolux:

1) very light boost with gain at maybe 10.00, presence about half way and volume to suit. Good for neck pickup almost clean stuff.

2) medium crunch - gain somewhere between 12.00 and 2.00 with the presence at maybe 2.00 or even 3.00.

I used to find it a bit difficult to dial in until I read that you can consider the Presence control as 'adding mids' rather than highs. You need to work the Presence and Gain together as they interact.

Cool pedal. I've used it into an AC30 and an AC15 also and the results were similar. Not sure that I buy into the stuff about it being designed for a Vox.

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Re: Hot Cake users: what's your approach to dialing it in?

Post by bipedal2 » Fri May 17, 2024 5:56 am

Thanks all for your settings tips and the article on Crowther. Good recommendations throughout.

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Re: Hot Cake users: what's your approach to dialing it in?

Post by andy_tchp » Fri May 17, 2024 4:21 pm

Pump Up The Volume - The Hotcake
The first of a series taking a deeper look at curios and objects in the Volume Exhibition at the Auckland Museum (28 OCT 2016 - 21 MAY 2017).

Episode one finds the creator of the Hotcake, possibly the most famous guitar pedal to be created on these fair shores. Meet Paul Crowther whose creation has graced the stage next to Heil Finn, The Violent Femmes, Noel Gallagher and just about every New Zealand band ever.
"I don't know why we asked him to join the band 'cause the rest of us don't like country music all that much; we just like Graham Lee."
David McComb, 1987.

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