EBS Billy Sheehan: This is a preamp pedal with tone shaping, and it happens to include a compressor.
The comp has only one external control: a three-position toggle labeled "High, Mid, Off" that selects between strong, medium, and no compression. High is a 5:1 ratio with a fixed 6 dB of makeup gain. Mid is a variable ratio up to 5:1 maximum, with a fixed 3 dB of gain. If you open the pedal up there are two internal trimmer pots; one adjusts the threshold for both High and Mid modes, and the other adjusts the ratio only for the Mid setting. The factory setting for both trim pots is 12:00.
If you are familiar with the classic EBS Multicomp, the Billy Sheehan comp is basically identical to the "normal" (not multi-band or tube sim) mode of the Multicomp. It's good for smoothing, a bit of fattening, and making your overall levels more consistent. It's really not good at peak limiting. You can get stronger compression by turning down the threshold with the internal trimmer, which can help with managing stronger peaks, but of course that means your whole signal is squeezed down. The action is quite smooth, not like an effect. The attack is fixed at a slightly slow time, allowing a bit of your initial note peak through. The LED changes brightness to indicate the amount of compression.
The pedal has two separate signal paths, one clean and one distorted. The compressor affects both, as it is located right after the point where the two paths are mixed back together. Each channel has its own effects loop jack in which you can insert any other pedal, so the inserted pedal only affects either the clean OR the distorted sound from the EBS. This is a very cool and versatile feature. To use it, you need a special type of Y cable called an insert cable, which has a TRS 1/4" plug that splits to two TS plugs (one sends, the other returns). The knob labeled "Drive" controls the gain of the distortion channel, while the one labeled "Level" is the volume of that channel, and the knob labeled "Clean" is the volume of the clean channel. Simple enough.
But then we have the knob labeled "Tone"... This knob controls the center frequency of an extreme EQ scoop on the Drive channel only. There is no way to switch the scoop off, or reduce its depth, other than to turn the Drive knob all the way down. So if you LOVE a mid-scoop, you'll love the Tone knob. If you are not a fan of scooped mids, you will want to shoot this pedal and slap yourself. If you turn the knob to a high setting, raising the center frequency above the mids, then the lows and low mids sound quite good; but the highs will sound terrible. And honestly, the highs and high mids sound terrible, plastic and weird, at every Tone setting. The Drive itself is a good overdrive, fat and Sansamp-like at the low end, and very gritty/grindy at the higher end; but the only setting I could tolerate, personally, is with the Drive knob turned fairly low so that the Tone scoop was not so extreme. Basically this pedal could have been a highly versatile overdrive/distortion preamp that anyone would enjoy, except they utterly ruined it with the mid scoop. Unless, again, you happen to really like that sound.
Apart from all that, the lows and highs are not cut off, and the noise floor is decent. It's not as low-noise as I've come to expect from more modern high-end comp pedal designs. The tone of the Clean channel is neutral, pretty much uncolored. If you like the "normal" setting of the EBS Multicomp, and if you love Sheehan or Fieldy, then you'll like this pedal.
The construction quality is mostly good, though EBS has had a lot of trouble over the years with footswitches failing on other pedals. The housing is the "medium" size of Barber or Diamond. It runs on Boss-standard 9V DC. The footswitch is "true bypass".
Price in USD: new $199, used $120 to $140
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