Are you looking for the best Klon Centaur clone? Or some sort of Klon inspired guitar pedal?
No problem. I’ve got you covered.
In this post, I’ll be testing the best Klon Centaur clones and reviewing each one to help you find the ideal pedal for you.
I’ll be looking at pedals from across the price spectrum. From the cheapest and most affordable right up to the more boutique end of the spectrum.
And, towards the end, I’ll answer some common questions about Klon Centaur.
The best Klon clones + Klon inspired pedals right now
One of the most popular Klon clones on the market.
If you’re after classic Klon tones but don’t want to shell out over $5K for an original. You can’t go wrong with the Tumnus.
Affordable, well-built, and made in the USA.
1. Wampler Tumnus
The Wampler Tumnus is an extremely popular and more affordable recreation of the original Klon pedal.
Out of all of the pedals on the list, the Tumnus is likely one of the closest to the originals.
It’s well built and sounds incredible. Sure, tone is subjective but the Tumnus has a certain magic to it that I haven’t heard in many other pedals on this list (maybe aside from the Archer IKON that I’ll talk about in a moment). It just makes everything sound better.
Some players have commented that it sounds best when pushing an overdrive channel and when stacking with a Tube Screamer. I’ve found it to sound nice with clean amps as well – especially when testing with my Fender Princeton.
2. J. Rockett Audio Designs Tour Series Archer IKON
The Archer IKON is another affordable Klon style pedal and typically one of the first pedals that always comes to mind when discussing these mythical pedals.
This pedal is extremely well built. In fact, this thing is built like a tank. It’s the heaviest out of the other stomp boxes on this list and looks like it could take a beating (although I’m not going to try it given it’s the most pricey pedal on this list).
Like the Wampler Tumnus, I found the tone of the Archer IKON to be extremely pleasing. It had that little bit extra when testing side-by-side with other pedals on this list.
There is a silver version of this pedal but from a tonal perspective, this gold version gets closer to that of the original Klon.
3. PRS Horsemeat
The PRS Horsemeat has one of the best names of any other Klon-inspired pedal on this list.
And it sounds damned good too!
When I first got my hands on this pedal, I expected more of a Klon clone, but it’s definitely got its own thing going on. And in a good way.
PRS says the pedal adds harmonic midrange richness without cutting your high notes. And, well, they’re spot on. As you’d expect with a Klon-style pedal, it’s designed to be transparent, so it won’t mess with your tone.
It doesn’t share the small form factor of some other pedals. And it’s in an enclosure that’s larger than standard pedals. But for the extra flexibility the Horsemeat offers, it’s a worthy compromise.
As you can expect with anything from PRS, the build quality is top-notch. The pedal is true bypass and can be powered via a 9v power supply or a 9v battery.
In terms of controls, you’ve got the typical gain, level, and treble. You’ll see these on most Klon-style pedals. But PRS has added voice and bass controls to open up more options for your tone.
4. MXR Sugar Drive
The MXR Sugar Drive is perfect if you’re looking for a direct Klon clone that retains the great transparent overdrive without the extreme cost.
As a small-format pedal, the Sugar Drive is ideal if you want to save space on your pedal board.
Original Klon’s had buffered outputs rather than being true-bypass. This means less possible signal degradation as your signal travels through multiple pedals to your amp.
I won’t get into the true bypass vs buffered output debate here but the nice thing about the Sugar Drive is that you have the best of both worlds via a switch on the side.
I’ve owned a bunch of MXR pedals over the years. Build quality is excellent and they’re on the more affordable end of the spectrum compared to some on this list.
5. Way Huge Conspiracy Theory
The Conspiracy Theory by Way Huge is yet another alternative to the fabled Klon pedal.
Like MXR pedals, Way Huge is another brand from the Jim Dunlop staple of brands. Jeorge Tripps is the main man behind Way Huge and he’s designed pedals for the likes of Joe Bonamassa, Eddie Van Halen, Eric Johnson and more.
If you’ve ever owned a Way Huge pedal before you’ll know that they’re some of the biggest pedals on the market.
Given the name and the typical size of ‘Way Huge’ pedals, you’d probably expect this to be a large pedal. But it isn’t.
The Conspiracy Theory is part of the Way Huge ‘Smalls’ series of smaller format pedals – making it similar in size to the Keeley and Electro-Harmonix pedals. Which, compared to other pedals on this list – isn’t that small at all.
As is expected from a company like this, the pedal is well-built and sounds great.
6. Keeley Oxblood
The Keeley Oxblood is somewhat of a departure from some of the close replicas I’ve discussed previously. It is definitely more of a unique take on the original than any other pedal in this post.
Don’t let the fact that I’ve ranked the Oxblood lower discourage you from checking it out. This is a great pedal.
Keeley makes some of the best pedals in the world right now. The D&M Drive, 1962x and Dark Side are good examples.
As a straight-up alternative to the Klon, I preferred other pedals on this list, particularly the Tumnus. But the Oxblood has its own thing going on and still sounds magnificent.
If you’re after a transparent overdrive with more flexibility – you should definitely check out the Oxblood. The ‘phat’ switch and ‘clipping’ toggle allow for plenty of extra tonal variety that other pedals on this list can’t achieve.
7. Tone City Bad Horse
The Tone City Bad Horse is another no-frills Klon clone. Nothing more. Nothing less.
It’s on the more affordable end of the price spectrum sitting in the middle of the EHX Soul Food and the cheapest pedal on this list (The Mosky – I’ll cover that in a moment).
They were established in 2014 by J. Wong. Initial reception was excellent and they’ve gone from strength to strength.
It’s no wonder why – Tone City pedals offer great value. I’ve had the opportunity to try quite a few of their pedals over the last few years and I’ve been impressed by most of them.
8. Electro-Harmonix Soul Food
The Electro-Harmonix Soul Food is a great overdrive pedal that is heavily inspired by the original Klon, rather than being a direct Klone.
Where the original Klon had germanium diodes, the Soul Food has silicon diodes. This adds a somewhat familiar
There’s a lot more gain available in this pedal in comparison to other pedals in this list. Most others are typically low-medium overdrive pedals but the Soul Food can take you from a clean boost to full-on saturated distortion (and anything in between).
Removing the backplate will reveal space for a 9v battery and a switch to go between true bypass or buffered bypass modes.
9. Mosky Silver Horse
I initially ordered the Mosky Silver Horse on a whim. As the cheapest Klon style pedal around, I was curious how good it would be.
And to my surprise – it wasn’t terrible.
It didn’t blow my mind or inspire me in any way. I was never expecting that. And sure, the pots & jack sockets don’t feel like they’re particularly great quality but if you’re on a tight budget this is a pedal worth checking out. You get a lot of bang for your buck!
Note: I’ve tried 3 Mosky pedals and 1 was faulty out of the box. This is a relatively small sample size but at the price, I don’t expect their quality checks to be very thorough. If you’ve got the budget, I’d highly recommend choosing a more reliable brand.
What is a Klon Centaur pedal?
The seemingly mythical Klon Centaur circuit was first developed by Bill Finnegan in the early 1990s.
Since then, these pedals have been used by the likes of Joe Bonamassa, Jeff Beck, James Hetfield, Stone Gossard, Noel Gallagher, and many more.
The pedal is known for its ability to add gain without coloring the tone of your amp too much. In other words – a fairly transparent overdrive pedal. Although it does have fairly pronounced mids.
Some consider it to be an amp in a box and I’d agree – you don’t need to worry about your overdrive tone with this sort of pedal. Just grab a nice clean amp and you’re good to go.
This is partly down to the fact the pedal is blending your dry signal with your overdriven signal. In a way, it feels more like an amp would feel when it starts to break up.
The pedal circuit uses hard clipping and has an internal charge pump that boosts the 9v power to 18v internally. This offers a significant amount of headroom. But remember – you still power it with a 9v adapter. Most variants of this pedal have a buffered output. In the case of the MXR Sugar Drive, you can switch between buffered output and true bypass via a switch on the side of the pedal.
The Klon doesn’t have huge amounts of gain available so if you want a high gain pedal – this isn’t it.
But if you want a low-medium gain overdrive pedal that is fairly transparent – a Klon Centaur style pedal is a great option.
Gold vs silver Klon? What’s the difference?
There are typically two main variations of the Klon Centaur that you’ll see on the pre-owned market.
- Gold with horse graphic – otherwise known as the ‘horsey’ version.
- Silver with no graphic – otherwise known as the ‘non-horsey’ version.
And while these are the most common variations, Bill Finnegan also made a gold version with no graphic and silver version with centaur graphic.
So, what’s the difference? Not much as it turns out.
In a shootout between two original Klon’s and a newer version known as the KTR, Bill states that all of them have the exact same circuit. With the exception of the KTR which allows the buffered output to be disabled.
The main differences are slight variations in components – tolerances and such which can change over time.
Why buy a Klon Centaur clone? Why not buy an original?
The originals are no-longer in production and they’re extremely sought after.
So sought after in fact that an original will set you back a few thousand dollars. Ouch!
How do you get an original Klon pedal?
You can usually find pre-owned Klon pedals on Reverb and other second-hand sites.
Want to build your own Klon clone? You can!
You can pick up kits that include all the parts you’ll need. And instructions.
This kit by TTONE on Amazon is a good example:
How did I arrange this list?
This isn’t simply a list of which pedal sounds most like a real Klon.
I mentioned earlier that there were two different original types of Klon Centaur pedals – typically known as ‘horsie’ and ‘non-horsie’ (or silver and gold).
Scour online forums and you’ll soon find that if you were to A/B test two gold Klon’s, they wouldn’t sound exactly the same.
So, in this list, I’ve focused more on overall tone (yes, it’s subjective, I know), value for money, affordability, build quality, etc.
The Klon Centaur is one of the most hyped guitar pedals in existence. It wasn’t the first and neither will it be the last.
And while I don’t believe this level of hype is warranted, Klon style pedals are one of the best overdrives I’ve ever heard.
Will you agree with me? Maybe. Maybe not. After all – tone is completely subjective and it’s ultimately your opinion that matters most.
Related pedal roundups:
Featured Image credit: Adam Connell // Tone Island.