The Heartbreaker


The Heartbreaker is our most versatile overdrive/boost and features some innovative circuit design to make this pedal capable of producing a wide range of tones superbly.
The high/low gain switch allows the Heartbreaker to produce a healthy signal boost with minimal distortion and maximum dynamics when set to the low gain position, and thickly saturated lead tones when set to the high gain position. The bass and treble controls can be used to shape the sound to your taste by producing a mid range scoop when both controls are set high and a mid range boost when both controls are set low and a whole range of tones between the two extreme settings.
This flexibility with superb tone whether set for high distortion or clean boost is due to our meticulous circuit design.
How we get the tone
Most distortion pedals will only back off to anything like a clean signal when the gain is turned right down and then the signal level is too low to act as a clean boost, and the tone with the gain set low is often very thin. The Heartbreaker goes way beyond the performance of most distortion pedals because its circuitry is much more sophisticated than most distortion pedals. The Heartbreaker has three separate distortion stages, each with a higher voltage threshold than is common in other manufacturers’ pedals, with the

 high/low gain switch working on the last distortion stage and the rotary gain control working on the first stage. With the gain switch set low and the volume control set to maximum, the gain control can be set very low to give low distortion tones with a significant level boost and wide dynamics due to the use of our unique high threshold circuitry.
When heavy distortion is called for, the Heartbreaker will oblige with a classic rock distortion tone which stays weighty and full sounding, laced with harmonic richness but never becoming fizzy. Whereas most distortion pedals either sound good when set to high gain but sound awful at low gain settings or sound good before too much gain causes them to become fizzy and compressed, the Heartbreaker produces classic tones at either end of the spectrum. This feat is achieved by our carefully designed circuit that has different threshold voltages for opposite ends of the frequency spectrum and which responds to the signal level so that high level signals are effectively EQ’d differently to low level signals. This allows moderate gain levels to sound fat and rounded rather than dull for classic blues and rock tones and high gain levels to give a very aggressive modern rock tone without becoming too thin or brittle sounding.
the tone controls
The bass and treble controls are based on a passive tonestack design derived from the classic circuits of vintage valve amps. With both the bass and treble set high there is a gentle scoop in the midrange at around 700 hertz. This gives a modern high gain sound with weighty bass and a bright sheen to the treble. Setting the bass and treble controls low gives a mid range boost at around 2 kHz for a more vintage sound. A wide range of tones between the two extremes can be achieved by careful EQ settings.
The Heartbreaker’s case is constructed from heavy duty steel with a thick rubber base and the control panel is recessed to make the controls as robust as possible. All the components are top quality with UK sourced printed circuit boards, custom made chassis mounted pots, CNC metalwork, anodised aluminium control panel (no screen printing) and tool-free battery access, and all the electronic and mechanical assembly is carried out in the UK to make the Heartbreaker a truly UK made boutique effects pedal of the highest quality.


This view of the inside of the Heartbreaker shows our meticulous attention to detail with chassis mounted pots and sockets and “almost impossibly neat and tidy” wiring (according to Guitar Buyer magazine - read the full review). Details like the battery connector having strain relief to protect its connection to the circuit board and the use of heatshrink sleaving on the DC power supply socket show how committed we are to high quality construction. This is all labour intensive and time consuming but necessary to make the best quality pedals with ultimate long term reliability.


sound samples

sample 1
Heavy distortion with gain, bass and treble set high. The guitar used is a Jackson tuned down to C. The sample is played by Chris Porter, switching between pedal bypassed and pedal active to demonstrate the pedal’s effect.

sample 2

Mild distortion to give a slightly raunchy and fatter sound. The guitar is a Telecaster. The sample is played by Chris Porter, switching between pedal bypassed and pedal active to demonstrate the pedal’s effect.

sample 3

High gain, singing lead tone. Thanks to Chris Porter and his Jackson guitar.

user review, Harmony Central “Fantastic, can’t recommend this pedal highly enough.”

Play Music Pickup Dec 2008 “Very punchy and sweet sounding overdrive.”

Guitarist, January 2009 “Sounds fat and rich without compromising clarity and tightness.”

Guitar & Bass, October 2009 “I’m massively impressed with the Heartbreaker’s abilities as a clean boost and overdrive.”

Guitar Buyer November 2009 “One of the best stompboxes we’ve seen in quite some time.”


How to buy the Heartbreaker
The Heartbreaker costs 149 and can be purchased through our UK and international dealers (full list) or through the online shop.

Who uses Rothwell?
Find out by clicking here

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