1312 Distortion V3 - Black Mass Electronics

Apr 07 2022
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black mass electronics 1312 distortion v3

I love a good RAT style pedal. That typical, raunchy, grimey distortion is the defining sound of many of my favorite records. Think There Is Nothing Left To Lose by the Foo Fighters, Blur by Blur or Radiohead's The Bends.

I wasn't surprised that I really enjoy playing the 1312 by Black Mass Electronics. It has that classic sound, but in a more modern and versatile package.

First of all, the gain knob is usable throughout its whole range. At low gain, it's clear and articulate, but still adds some color to the signal. At maximum gain, it has that oomph and almost reaches into fuzz territory.

The filter sweep also has a super useful range. It never gets too harsh or too muffled. Simply adjust it to taste for the mix.

Now the clipping options is where it gets interesting. The classic RAT configuration is symmetrical clipping with silicon diodes (3 o'clock on the 1312). Black Mass added 7 more options with unique feel and sound.

In the mix the difference is subtle. In real life, each clipping option results in different volumes. Keep in mind the sounds in my demo are normalized so you can't hear that. The biggest difference to me is how each clipping style feels. The changes in compression makes the guitar feel different under your fingers.

NOS Germanium: This has the lowest output, feels a bit softer and seems to add some more high sizzle. Great for adding low to mid gain textures.

Red LED: Bigger output, more high end and low end coming through. Feels more aggressive and open. Great for power chord riffs when the guitar has the spotlight. Very little sizzle.

Silicon: A bit more compressed. Adds a different kind of fizzy harmonic sizzle than Germanium.

MOSFET: More open sounding while not as aggressively forward sounding as the LED. Sits nicely in a mix with pleasant harmonics.

Silicon/Germanium: As the label implies, kind of a mix of both. Feels a bit softer but less than the NOS germanium.

Quad Silicon: Punchy, with quite a bit more low end (but I think LED has a bit more). Less sizzle and more compressed than the LED. Great for big single note rock riffs.

Asymmetrical clipping (MOSFET and silicon): Same as their symmetrical counterparts, but different harmonics. The asymmetrical clipping removes some of the sizzle. Great for low gain overdrive sounds.

The improved gain and filter ranges together with the 8 clipping options make this a super versatile distortion box. It works great on bass, and I love it for shoegazy stuff to add texture.

Plus, all the color options look gorgeous. I love my 1312 and it's going to stay on my board.

Recording Notes

Main Track

  • Double-tracked and hard-panned two different guitars
  • K'mo Memphis (T-style pickups) on the left, middle position
  • Epiphone SG with Lollar Firebirds on the right, middle position
  • Both guitars go through the same signal chain
  • 1312
  • Strymon Iridium (Chime)


  • JMJ Mustang, Fender flats, played with pick, tone rolled off 50% and palm-muted during the first half
  • Keeley Compressor Mini
  • 1312 with asymm. MOSFET clipping, low gain (9 o'clock) and filter at noon
  • Iridium on the round setting with SVT cabs, as demoed here

Lead Guitars

This is my new favorite lead tone. It's shoegazy with the reverb before distortion, but the Polychrome somehow tightens it up a bit and keeps the melody line focused – like riding a wild sonic storm in space.

It saddens me a little that the lead guitars are so buried in the mix, but otherwise it would get too crowded to listen to the main track properly.


  • GarageBand drummer Gavin (Indie Rock) on the Brooklyn kit
  • Juiced up with the FreeAMP plugin from Klevgrand
  • Some compression added to taste

Everything went into the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 and mixed in GarageBand. I used some light compression, limiter and exciter on the master track to glue everything together.


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