Bowman Audio Endeavors Hot Potato Review

Picture this: Marshall stacks as far as the eye can see. Powerful tones strong enough to shake the ground, rattle the cymbals, jostle the snares, and bring any respectable house down. Sounds great. Now check out the black box at your feet.

Bowman Audio Endeavors is a brand that has a keen eye for the classics. Founded by James Bowman of the punk band Against Me!, these creations come together with careful thought and disregard for any precedent. If you’re on the hunt for a truly classic tone that is well-known by rock n’ rollers of any generation, the BAE Hot Potato is your ticket in.

Back in Black

The power of that classic British crunch is no secret. Chances are your favorite metal, punk, or blues band has at least had a guest appearance from a Marshall on your favorite album. The influence of the British sound cannot be overstated and seeing literal walls of those classic amps onstage isn’t fantasy or hyperbole – it's a testament to the tone. With the Hot Potato, Bowman Audio Endeavors pays tribute to such an iconic sound in a compact, pedalboard-friendly device readymade for taking to the road for extended tours on many different stages. Compact and durable, the pedal brings monstrous tones wherever you go with little preparation or tinkering to account for. The Hot Potato is sleek pedal with plenty of classic style, and once plugged in, all bets are off. This thing is the real deal. It is a tonal powerhouse right out the gate and it is thanks to its streamlined setup that the pedal is so accessible and exciting.

A Tonal Titan

If you’re familiar with the almighty crunch of those iconic British stacks, then it won’t take long to find a sweet spot with the Hot Potato, and better yet, the Hot Potato is on no shortage of sweet spots! The straightforward controls of the Hot Potato open the pedal up tonally to any player looking for easily accessible high-octane tones. Working great as an “always on” type of drive for guitar or bass, the Hot Potato is an accessible pedal for a wide range of tones and styles.

Between the Level and Tone controls, your tonal path is smoothly paved – the Hot Potato wastes no time in cutting to the chase. Starting at zero on the Level dial will completely roll back the voice of the Hot Potato to muffle the effect. As you gradually turn the Level dial up, the Hot Potato blooms with its warm and distorted voice. One of the strengths of the Hot Potato comes from its ability to sit with a mix or an existing signal. Though the character of the effect is distinct, it does not overwhelm your tone when its settings are dialed in about halfway. The Level control works as a responsive control to cap the effect accurately wherever you place it. Finding a compatible spot for the Hot Potato in your rig is not hard if you’re looking for some distorted character to color your tonal canvas.

Hot Blooded

This is all well and good, but those looking to jump right into the powerful distorted bite of the Hot Potato will not need to wait long. The Tone knob is as accurate and responsive as the Level knob when it comes to keying in your ideal mix. The two controls interact very well in producing your Marshall tone when experimented with, though part of the beauty of the Hot Potato is the ability to skip experimenting entirely!

The Hot Potato features a function that is rarely seen in pedals today. Turning the Tone knob all the down, players can click off the control to remove it from the mix altogether. What this means is that the Hot Potato can change into a one-knob pedal on the fly. Clicking off the Tone control maxes out the Tone effect, effectively letting players use the Level knob to control the entire pedal. The simplicity in the Hot Potato makes it a great “always on” distortion pedal if you’re looking for a reliable overdriven baseline. To the other extreme, the Hot Potato makes a perfect distorted boost to push your signal further if you choose to crank it all the way. Rhythm and lead guitarists will both have a field day with the Hot Potato for its tonal flexibility. It is a pedal that is ready for the stage when it comes calling. The Hot Potato holds its own and does a great deal of heavy lifting alone, so if you’re looking to move mountains and get your tonal message across quickly, the Hot Potato won’t waste your time. The utility of the Hot Potato makes it stand out among other distortion pedals and the tone makes it shine.

Bowman Audio Endeavors Hot Potato Final Thoughts

The fiery bursts of the distortion you'll get from the Hot Potato are readymade to blow doors down and dominate mixes. Full and forceful, the Hot Potato does an outstanding job at checking every box on your tonal to-do list. Punk rock power chords and heavy metal chugs are both fair game for this pedal. Pedalboard minimalists will be thankful for the Hot Potato’s tonal heavy lifting and pedalboard connoisseurs will be thankful for its tonal compatibility – both types of players will love its tone. Whether you’re searching for an iconic distorted tone or are looking to innovate on a classic formula, the Hot Potato is up for the task. The Hot Potato is a pedal of awesome power, tonal nuance, and exceptional playability and with this pedal, modern rock and roll never seemed more beautifully simple or simply beautiful.