Four on the Floor
I’ve had a number of opportunities to sample
overdrive pedals from all around the world,
and here are four that have made quite an
impression on me. Though not as well known
as many of the standard overdrive pedals,
they are all destined for greatness.
From the Land
a true plug-and-play pedal. There
are only three
volume, tone and
overdrive—so using the pedal is quite self-explanatory. The pedal has a bright blue
LED to let you know when the pedal is in
use or in bypass mode, and a solid steel
casing that can hold up to extensive travel
and abuse. A wide variety of tones can
be found just by adjusting the tone and
overdrive knobs, and the unit runs on a 9V
battery or with a standard 9V DC power
supply. If you like the idea of having something as good as an original TS-808 Tube
Screamer at a third of the price, this pedal
will do it for you.
The 12AXE is as close as you can get to
adding another valve stage to your amp;
it reacts much like a valve. Wind up the
overdrive and it becomes a true distortion
pedal, giving you really tasty and controlled
grit. Back it off and you can have a very
handy “slightly dirty” pedal for blues licks or
crunchy chords. Be warned however, this is
no “metal” pedal—it has way too much tone
for that. If you are looking for a really smooth
distortion/overdrive pedal to compliment
your tube amp,
the 12AXE might
just be for you.
I highly recommend it.
Many of you
are familiar with
Fuchs Amplifiers, but here in the U.S.,
Andy Fuchs has really outdone himself
with the Plush Drive. If you don’t own a
boutique amp, this pedal will make you
sound like you do. Andy designed the
Plush Drive at a very reasonable price for
those who want the true tone, response,
and feel of boutique tube amps. It comes
with four separate control knobs that cover
all the important aspects of your tone.
Right away I noticed that the gain and
touch controls allow you to set distortion
and pick response based on your own individual playing style. Once you set those,
the tone level controls help you to set
both your overall lead tone and solo level.
Andy worked hard to develop a unique
bi-fet integrated circuit and matched
discrete FETs so players can emulate the
smooth overload and distortion of a tube
circuit with the utmost quality of sound. It’s
impressive enough played through a clean
amp, but add a great overdriven tone and
this pedal will blow your mind.
this pedal is designed to blend seamlessly with your amp. It’s actually a step up
from Rodenberg’s GAS-808, except with
three times the gain. This increase in gain
gives the pedal a totally even frequency
response throughout the gain structure,
while maintaining the crisp and accurate
lead sounds that the original 808 offered.
The pedal is extremely even when boosting
the amplifier’s sound, so the guitar’s tone
Pacifix Ltd. Stampede SOV- 2
Of course, the list wouldn’t be complete
without a Japanese offering. Made in
Japan by Yuki Hayashi, the Stampede SOV-
2 OD pedal is designed to deliver natural
overdrive without changing
the tone of the
design is not
one to be
overdrive in depth, and I had the chance to
visit with him personally about this pedal.
His major focus was to produce a clean,
crisp, quality overdrive pedal with unique
characteristics that enhance tone without
compromise. One particular unique feature
of this pedal is the bipolar power supply
that powers the internal circuitry with ± 15
volts, providing more than three times the
dynamic range of conventional 9-volt powered overdrives.
The clarity and smoothness of this pedal
is outstanding. It has standard true bypass
circuits where the instrument signal
passes through two switch contacts when
bypassed. In addition to indicating the
pedal’s on or off status, a very hip LED
provides visual battery power monitoring.
Because the incoming power is so closely
related to the performance of the internal
circuitry, when the battery voltage drops
below 5 volts the LED will become dimmer and begin to fade out. The effect will
still operate at this voltage, but it lets you
know it’s time for a change.
So there you have it—overdriving around
the world. Of course, you can find your
own global gear online, so visit these (and
other) manufacturers’ websites and spend
some time reading up on some lesser-known products. You may have your own
four on the floor in no time. Plus, you can
drive these without a license!
Rick Wheeler currently works as Larry Carlton’s guitar
tech and front of house engineer. He is also an accom-
plished jazz guitarist, vocalist, and educator.
You can contact Rick at firstname.lastname@example.org