What is it?
Ibanez LF7 Lo Fi from Tonelok/7-series. Apparently made in the year 2000, as the enclosure has the date 1/2000 stamped on the inside.
The board itself has a lot of components left out, so it seems that the same board may be utilized in other designs of the series too. I think i may need to do some reading on this. As the circuit is what it is – a distortion with active filters, i think i’ll focus on the enclosure and how the 7-series are made, rather than trying to analyze the circuit on this particular design.
The base design for 7-series boxes is made of 5 (!) boards. One for input jack, one for the switching, LED and slide switches (picture below), the main board (above), the control board (aka VR Board) and one for the output jack. It is crowded in there, but this type of design leaves a lot of room for the main board. Which is huge when compared to compact size of the pedal itself. There is a downside to this. Over engineering. You need to use all the space available, right?
Meaning that the same results in sound could have been achieved for a lot smaller board and lower parts count. The factory schematics can be found online, but study them with caution. These are the worst schems i’ve seen with depicting of all the 5 PCBs, showing some parts of the layout and having massive, unnecessarily long lines. These also notes how all 5 boards connect together. Good information, but difficult and/or frustrating to read.
Back to the good things. These also seem to built for war. Couple of the units i have were mailed to me wrapped in just two pages of newspaper and a thick paper bag. Knowing how the postal service treats the parcels, i was quite surprised how none of these had any issues after such treatment. The Tonelok-idea is not a bad idea at all. I’ve run into issues accidentally kicking the pot knobs on some pedals (think ZVex’s Fuzz Factory) that have the stomp switch way too close to the knobs. Add trigger happy controls to that equation, and you’ll find out why locking knobs is a very good idea.
Other downside to this series is the use of the same tact switch that’s found on Soundtank/5-series. Swapping the switch takes about double the time compared to Soundtanks, due to complexity of the 5 boards that need to be disassembled. So, disregarding the switch – These are built to last and can take a hit, plus locking controls work great. Overall, i think these are the most underrated pedals ever made. Can’t wait to see if the switches outlast the Soundtank switches or not. And more importantly, how the value of these develop in next 20 years…
How does it sound?
Back to the LF7. This design was just perfect specimen to talk about the series in general. The reason being that this may be one of the worst sounding Ibanez designs ever. It is truly Lo Fi as advertised. Really bad, ugly misbiased distortion with active, bad tone controls for highs and lows. Doesn’t work for guitar at all, but i can see this being used with a blender circuit for vocals and drum buses. Nice studio tool, but i can’t see any use for this on any pedal board.