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Catalinbread / Formula No 5 / 2014 / Effect

The Formula № 5 was inspired by old tweed amps, most notably the 5E3 circuit. The character of the 5E3 is very unique. It has very minimal power filtering, low plate voltages, elemental tone stack, and does next to nothing to control the low end between gain stages, not to mention the under-rated output transformer and speaker. The entire system runs inefficiently resulting in a loose bass, greasy mids, cutting treble, and incredible grit – none of these qualities were ideal or intentional back in the day. In spite of this, over the past five decades the amp inspired some of the coolest, most sought after guitar tones ever recorded.

We’ve captured the unique qualities of these amps in the Formula № 5. For this circuit we felt cascaded JFET gainstages yielded the best result. They have a softer sound than MOSFETs. JFETs also have much more natural attack/decay than diode clipped rigs which are pingy on the attack and fizzy on the decay. We chose capacitor types that enhanced the midrange and burnished the treble.

We’ve recorded some clips that highlight the qualities of the Formula № 5. For an amp we used a Quad Reverb (basically a 4x12 Twin) VOL=3.5, TRE=6, MID=6, BASS=3, REV=2, MAST=10. The microphone is a Royer 121 placed 3" from one of the cones.

Let’s start out by presenting a reference clean sound with a Tele. Big & clean all day! Keep coming back to this clip as necessary to clear your pallet! Next is a general gain sound of a Tele into the Formula № 5 with the Gain @ 3 O’clock, Tone @ noon. This showcases the “loose bass, greasy mids, cutting treble, and incredible grit” mentioned above quite nicely. Listen to how chords decay – just like an amp. No pingy attack. No fizzy decay. Now we’ll demonstrate the amp-like clean up with a Tele into the Formula № 5 with the Gain @ 3 O’clock, Tone @ noon. I usually leave my Formula № 5 on all the time and get my clean sound by rolling back the instrument’s volume knob. Like the 5E3 the Formula № 5 GAIN and TONE are highly interactive. The tone circuit is such that it functions as a bright cap or treble rolloff depending on where the GAIN is set. The higher the gain the TONE becomes nullified and less effective. Conversely, the lower the gain the more effective the tone sweep becomes. We felt this behavior was crucial to reproduce for an accurate tweed-in-a-box. The Formula № 5 can run at 9V or 18V. At moderate gain settings you will find an increased bass tightness and volume @ 18V.

The difference between a great dirt box and the average run of the mill distortion pedal is how well it respects your pickup position. Here is a showcase of a humbucker equipped LP: First, is a little boogie, starting off clean and a bit sterile, but when the Formula № 5 is engaged you can hear how well it encourages the playing attitude. Next, is the LP in the bridge position, demonstrating how well it retains the bridge pickup character. The final humbucker clip is the LP neck position. Listen to how sweet and singing the Formula № 5 is while maintaining articulation and detail.

In addition to pickup position a great dirt box respects your pickup type. The following set of clips showcase the Strat.

The bridge position has a vocal quality that can cut through a mix.
The middle position is a tad fuller than the bridge with every bit as much detail.
The neck position is noted for its fullness yet glassy character, the Formula № 5 does not obscure this!

Instrument sold

These Go To 11, Sweden  

Contact name:
Sebastian Nylund
Nik Huber, Suhr ; NOVO, Analog Man, King Tone etc.
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These Go to 11 is a passionate shop in the heart of Stockholm, Sweden that offers a unique service and special knowledge. We have an honest ambition to help you find your special voice and inspiration in a close relationship with the best manufacturers and designers.
Our almost unhealthy interest in everything that concerns sounds and tone have driven us to test almost every particle from picks to speaker cloth. We’ll help you to combine and match different gear to make Nigle Tufnel’s famous words come true: to make your sound one louder

Welcome to our shop for an experience! 



Sweden free shipping on all orders and 45 days right of return

*orders above 1000 sek, below is 69:- bigger stuff like amps 295 sek

EU Flat Rate €15 

and 45 days right of return

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Delivery terms

We will always try to ship your order within 1 business day from that you've made your order. Usually If you make your order before 12.00 AM GMT+1 we will ship it the same day. Orders placed on weekends and holidays will be shipped the next business day. If the order requires more packing concern (guitars or amps) we might need an extra day to ship it.

Please note! Due to an increased volume of orders during particular releases or holidays, the handling of your order may take up to two days. We are doing our best to get all orders out as soon as possible.

During Christmas DHL has a lot of parcels so it might take some extra days for your package to arrive.

Delivery time

  • Sweden: 1-3 work days
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We ship all orders within Sweden with DHL service point. You will be able to collect your package at your local DHL service point dealer.


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You can always track your order on the DHL main site. Notice that the package will be able to track about 24 hours from that your order has been shipped from us.

Unclaimed orders

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