Just a preliminary note – don’t let the name fool you. This pedal has nothing to do with the band The Flaming Lips. At all. In fact, after diving down the Google rabbit hole for a good fifteen minutes combing through page after page for any small hint or tenuous link to the band, eyes growing more bloodshot by the millisecond, the only place my searches lead me to was our own product description page.
I’m now pretty sure that Red Dog Music procuring this product for me to review was all an elaborate ouroborosian ruse by our marketing manager to send me on a quest with no answers. A ruse cruise, if you will.
The CKK Flaming Lips distortion pedal review
The CKK Electronic Flaming Lips is a “US-Style High Gain distortion” which, to most people, means a cranked Marshall 8 x 10″. I think even casual listeners would recognise the sound – a cursory glance at the Marshall’s artist list reveals the brothers Young from AC/DC, Aerosmith, Hendrix, Satriani, Bonamassa and just keeps going. We’re all in familiar territory here.
I’ve already discussed the build quality of the CKK pedals at more length in my Lunar Drive review so I won’t delve into it too much here, but to quickly summarise: footswitch is clunky but solid, LED casing could be better, reassuringly heavy, control knobs are good quality. A mixed bag but absolutely acceptable for the price point.
Drive and Gain are joined by Presence and High Mid controls, which are atypical features for a stomp box but standard for louder and larger amps. It’s a curious pairing, given the lack of others, but it suits the Flaming Lips and drives home what this pedal is all about. Much like the Lunar Drive, it is tunnel-visioned on one core tone and the EQ isn’t there for radical changes but minor tweaks. Besides, you won’t miss having traditional tone controls as it’s balanced and comprehensive from the first strum with plenty of body in the low end.
Engaging the aptly-named Muscle switch boosts the midrange, adding clarity and definition to the distortion. It feels beefy and weighted with no subtlety to the sound. This is loud, super saturated, big, and brash. Once I tamed the high end to suit my single coils there was no going back – I was suddenly at the helm of the S.S. Massive Marshall Stack, and when I think of Marshall, I think of one thing.
An hour later, I was eight songs deep into an Iron Maiden YouTube spree. Combining it with the MXR Analog Chorus and a touch of ambience from the Strymon Flint and Digitech Obscura placed it neatly in the mix of the band’s classic 1980s albums, through twin guitar leads and triplet rhythms alike. I was thirteen again and thoroughly enjoying it.
So what can I say? The CKK Flaming Lips might not be my every day sort of pedal, but a great take on a sought-after tone which is so evocative that it had me attempting Dave Murray solos. Quite a recommendation.