Lerxst By-Tor review – far more than an Alex Lifeson signature overdrive pedal

Lerxst By-Tor review – far more than an Alex Lifeson signature overdrive pedal

$295, lerxstamps.com
You’ve probably heard all about Lerxst by now – the brand that is, not the nickname for its founder, former Rush supremo Alex Lifeson. Lerxst started out just last year as a partnership between Lifeson and respected boutique amp part and kit maker Mojotone. Initially, the brand created a pair of signature amps for Lifeson that were effectively an homage to the last 50 years of Lifeson’s career – for Rush fans, it was designed to be the ultimate Lifeson guitar amp.

READ MORE: Silktone Overdrive+ review: A unique drive sound in a world of clones

Since then, however, things have rapidly gathered pace – at NAMM this year the Lerxst brand expanded to guitars (co-produced with Godin) while the Mojotone partnership now also extends to effects, with a pair of pedals that, interestingly enough aren’t quite so hyper-focused on catering to those who want to slavishly replicate Tom Sawyer.
The By-Tor was initially limited to 500 units when it was launched last December, but such was the hype and demand, it’s now back as a non-limited pedal, joined in the range by the new Snow Dog fuzz – which I’ll be checking out in the coming weeks.
Lerxst By-Tor
What is the Lerxst By-Tor?
I said that the pedals weren’t quite as keenly aimed at the Rush faithful as the amps and guitars, but I should get out of the way at the top that the By-Tor is effectively an attempt to capture the brand’s flagship 50-watt Omega amp.
Now, this is by FAR not the first attempt to capture the sound of a cooking valve amp in a box, but it’s an interesting take on the concept. Rather than overload you with tone-shaping knobs, the By-Tor keeps things simple with a simple three-know level, gain and tone arrangement for the pedal’s independently switchable drive side, and just a level control for the boost, which also has its own footswitch.
What makes the By-Tor interesting however is a little toggle switch in the middle that enables you to choose the order of the effects, so you can have boost running into drive or vice versa. But does this lupine box set itself apart from the pack?
Lerxst By-Tor
Does the Lerxst By-Tor sound good?
The By-Tor is a premium pedal with a premium price tag, and so it’s nice that even the packaging for this pedal feels suitably high-end: the pedal comes in a magnetically-latched foam-centred display box that also features some Lerxst stickers and a paper manual that looks like a trading card, but with very cool comic book-style illustrations. If the first strum really is with the eyes, then the By-Tor is making a good first impression.
Capturing the sound of an all-tube amplifier and preamp with capacitors and resistors in a large-scale cabinet and distilling it into a metal box with five control knobs and two footswitches that will fit under your foot is no small task. But as soon as I plug a guitar into the By-Tor, the first thing that crosses my mind is that well, it sounds just like a warmed-up and cranked tube amplifier.
Be warned though, this pedal has a snarling wolf printed on top for a reason – this is a wild beast that isn’t easily tamed. The distortion sound in particular is a meaty, full-throated wall of sound that will fill up a lot of space in a mix. Like a good tube amp, it really shines with the gain wide open – albeit without the risk of melting the tubes! What’s impressive though is that despite this monstrous tone with the gain all the way up, it cleans up really well and with the knob dialled back you can still get some really useful and serviceable blues and slide tones out of this thing.
The boost doesn’t add much in the way of colour to the tone, but the ability to put it before or after the drive makes it a powerful and musical tool. Personally I prefer having it before so it can add some real edge to the distorted tones, but it works equally well adding some extra push for solos and moments where you want to stand out.
It doesn’t have any bearing on the sound of course, but I did also really like the way the LEDs are situated in the wolf graphic’s eyes – it makes for a fun and mean-looking effect when you have both sounds engaged.
Lerxst By-Tor
Is the Lerxst By-Tor worth it?
There’s no doubt that a few years ago, you’d be raising your eyebrows at the prospect of a $300 drive pedal – even one that effectively offers two in one. But we live in 2024 where premium US-made pedals come with similarly premium price tags, and in a crowded market the By-Tor doesn’t feel overpriced.
That’s especially true when you consider the breadth and quality of the tones on tap – plenty of drive/boost pedals will give you a good array of tones on tap, but few will do it with such consistency and quality across the spectrum.
When I am spending my own money on a pedal, I want more options so I can use the pedal in multiple sonic situations. This is not just a one-trick wolf – the thick and full sounds offered by this pedal on any setting make it one of the frontrunners in a crowded pack.

Lerxst By-Tor alternatives
There are more pedals at this price point than you can shake a wolf-chewed stick at, but perhaps the closest is the recent Silktone Overdrive+ ($269/£279) – a drive/boost that impressed us enough to gain a 10/10 score with its huge versatility. Further up the price chain is the ThorpyFX Electric Lightning ($545/£429) – a premium drive/boost from the UK maker that’s designed in collaboration with guitar phenom Chris Buck. More affordable and even offering the same sound-order trick as the By-Tor is the Keeley D&M Drive ($229/£229). If you’d like two drives and not a drive and boost, the Browne Protein ($299/£339) is well worth checking out.
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Source: www.guitar-bass.net