BearFoot Pale Green and Evergreen: Bjorn of BJFE has licensed Bearfoot to manufacture his designs with easier availability and more reasonable prices than his own handmade BJFE branded pedals, just as he did earlier with Mad Professor. People will argue until the end of time about whether the licensed versions sound as good as the "real" BJF-made ones, and Bjorn himself has made some claims about his personal secret hands-on magic, but in my opinion the licensed ones ARE just as good.
The two pedals I'm reviewing here are both optical comps using the same basic circuit, taken from the BJF Pine Green. The Pale Green has a low ratio and the Evergreen has a very high ratio. The other differences are that the Evergreen adds a release time knob (labeled "D" for decay), and it has more output gain available than the Pale Green. In other words, choose the Pale for light compression and the Ever for heavy squeezing and boosting.
They have the two usual "C" (compression amount) and "V" (output volume) knobs, and they also have a tone knob. The tone knob is labeled "T" on the Evergreen, "Body" on the Pine, and no label at all on the Pale. The effect of the tone knob is subtle, and it is not a typical high-cut. It seems to shift the low-mids around more than anything, though the results are not obvious on a spectrum analyzer. It's a mild adjustment of flavor.
There is no loss of highs or lows at all, and no major humps or scoops in between. The tone is clear yet fat, a lot like the Diamond. I consider these pedals "tone better-izers" rather than surgical/utility compressors. They add no noise of their own, though they can amplify any noise already in your signal path, and this is most noticeable with the high-ratio Evergreen. But even then the noise is much less than you'd get with a typical Ross-type comp.
The action is very smooth and natural. The Evergreen can have a bit of funky squashing effect on the attack, especially at high settings, so it may not suit somebody looking for a transparent peak limiter. Neither of them has LEDs to indicate the amount of compression. The two pedals do not overlap in their range of effect--the strongest setting of the Pale is still nowhere near as compressed as the lightest setting of the Evergreen.
Comparing the Pale to the Diamond, the Pale is smaller, but the Diamond has an LED meter and its tilting EQ has a more noticeable and useful effect than the Pale's tone/body knob. The nearest comparison for the Evergreen might be the Pigtronix Philosopher family; the Philosophers have a distortion feature, and some of them have a clean blend, but they require a special power supply, and I think the Evergreen has a nicer/fatter tone quality. The Mad Professor Forest Green covers both light and heavy compression with its comp/sustain toggle, so it is a better value in terms of versatility compared to either of the BearFoots by themselves. However each of them is very good at its simple purpose.
The housing is the small MXR size, and the construction quality is pretty decent. The guts are not "gooped" in epoxy like the BJF version. The paint job has a homemade look, and the paint they use tends to chip off easily. It runs on standard 9V DC, and it can take up to 18V for higher headroom. The footswitch is "true bypass".
Price in USD: new $222 (Pale) and $235 (Ever), $125 to $180 used.
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