Herman Eng, guitar technician for A-list musicians, reviews the HandleBox Pedals

Posted by Herman Eng on Sep 17th 2023

Herman Eng, guitar technician for A-list musicians, reviews the HandleBox Pedals

I’ve been an A-list guitar tech for 12 years, touring with acts such as Sting, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan and Alanis Morrissette, and a gigging musician for about 40 years. That being said, I’ve used just about every pedal ever invented! I was lucky enough to get a sample of Tony Romero‘s HandleBox Pedals and let me tell you, these are so innovative and fresh; they are first-class all the way. Folks, we have a winner!! 

Unlike any other pedals I’ve seen, HandleBox pedals can be joined together with Tony’s "Boot" system. Combine that with the side handle and you have a convenient grab-and-go travel pedal system that has all the main effects I would need for a gig. The pedals have a simple knob layout with intuitive "how-to " graphics, making them easy to set up your sound. You'll be up and running in no time! No manual needed- just check out the photos. 

The pedals are very well-made and very well-thought-out. Perfect for any working musician. I love that the pedals are handmade right here in San Luis Obispo, California! The website Handleboxpedals.com is well laid out and the video demos are good so I won’t dive in too deep with details. Right now, Tony has two dual pedals on the roster. 

First is CODY®, an overdrive/ compressor pedal. The distortion is in the Tube Screamer camp but more refined with a wide range of OD to distortion. Sounds and feels great. This overdrive definitely holds its own when I compared it to others, such as the Zvex Double Rocker, JHS Bonsai, Orange Crush clone, and the J. Rockett “Dude” (Dumble tone)- it has its own unique voicing that really opens up as you turn up the gain. Next is a nice-sounding compressor and a noise gate on/off with an adjustment knob. Both effects have volume knobs making it easy to get proper levels. 

Next up is ARTIE, a Delay/Reverb pedal (think David Gilmour!). This pedal is in the league of most pro pedals I’ve used. In addition to the normal parameters, the delay has a setting that adds modulation- that’s a very cool touch! The Reverb side has 3 flavors: Room, Hall and Lush. Beautiful sounding reverb. These units are very reasonably priced for this level of American-made quality. 

I hear a possible dual overdrive/boost model is in the works for those who would choose that over the compressor model. This is a great idea and my personal choice! 

[Update: Learn more about our new CODY B. Perfect Pedal Set here.]

Overall, I recommend HandleBox pedalsThey are a new company and Tony is a class act.

Herman Eng is currently a touring Backline Technician/Guitar Tech for Paul Simon and has toured with Sting, Bob Dylan, The Cars, Alanis Morissette, Edie Brickell, and many others. He has 20 years of experience repairing guitars, working as a musician and recording engineer.