The Boss OD-1X OverDrive was one of two new stompboxes the company announced at NAMM 2014 (the DS-1X Distortion was the other). It features the company’s recently developed Multi-Dimensional Processing (MDP) technology and promises a superior playing experience to analog pedals. Does it deliver? read more…
The market of guitar stompboxes is quite saturated — competition is hard, manufacturers fight against each other with new controls and serial numbers. While I was reviewing a Blues 3000, I got the features of my next mission: handcrafted, overdrive, versatility. When I saw these three words together, I jumped into my mustang and headed out west. read more…
If you are interested in guitar stompboxes, you must choose between two different worlds: you've got the mass-produced effect pedals that use more or less average-quality components for cost savings reasons, and you have boutique stompboxes produced in small quantities, using selected components, and hand-crafted by guitar FX enthusiasts. SolidGoldFX stompboxes – assembled by a tech guru from Quebec named Greg Djerrahian – fall in the second category. read more…
User reviews on Overdrive pedal products
Best Overdrive I've Used! (Doc Music Station - Val Drive II)
By MGR/Brian Johnston, 17/07/2019
Val Drive II has found a home on my pedalboard. With a drive that ranges from mild to moderate, it provides a good ‘zing’ to clean channels, so that you have something between clean and dirty.
So far, so good, and the quality of the drive is excellent with its mild grain that also has a hint of smoothness and warmth in its character. When it comes to dirty channels, particularly those dark in quality (or perhaps a tad muddy, particularly when combined with speakers or guitar pickups that are on the dark side), Val Drive II is incredible sounding. It not only adds a bit extra hair to the dirt, but it clears the signal so that it cuts through the mix even better. That may sound redundant, in that it adds dirt and clears up the signal, but that’s exactly what it does, and without sounding trebly. In one sense it has a slight treble booster character in how it gives that perky spark or clarity to a guitar tone, yet its effect is more robust throughout the entire EQ spectrum. Interestingly, the Tone knob sounds very different (in scope) on my clean vs. dirty amp channels. On the clean channels you get a lot of bass or a lot of treble while dialing all the way back or forward. Conversely, on my dirty channels the entire EQ spectrum on the pedal is usable without sounding like there’s too much bass or too much treble. I’m uncertain why the Tone knob behaves differently in different instances, but it’s easy to dial in a good sound regardless.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: Based on the legendary sound of the JRC4558, Val Drive II has an asymmetrically clipping circuit with silicon diodes on one side and a silicon diode in series with germanium diode on the opposite side (giving it a more modern vibe). The JRC4558 integrated circuit was designed by the Japan Radio Company and has been used in a number of famous effects, including the Orange Squeezer, DOD YJM 30, Boss OD1 and the Tube Screamer. Val Drive II carries on that tradition as it merges incredibly well with other pedals and preamps by respecting their nuances – in sum, it’s like you’re hot-rodding gear without losing the characteristics of that gear. What you hear is a clean channel with warm, crunchy attitude while a dirty channel perks up and cuts through the mix like never before. Doc Music Station, the creator of the Val Drive II, also suggests that this pedal works very well with bass (up to 5 strings) – its smoothness and signal improvement certainly suggests as much.
GENERAL USE: Even up full on a clean channel you would be pleasantly surprised as to how smooth and natural the Val Drive II sounds (being a low to moderate gain pedal). It adds a warm grain with some headroom when on low (e.g., 10-o’clock) with a very acceptable drive and modest breaking up quality when up full. Obviously the cleaner the amp the more you can crank the Drive, which also depends whether you want to add some glassiness to your tone versus making it more of a crunch. With a dirty channel the Val Drive II shines incredibly well, although how much Drive you want will depend on how nasty your dirt channel is (or how much nastier you want it), and for the most part I’ve been keeping it at 10-o’clock, which seems to enhance the dirt channels on my Victory V4 Preamps (I have all three, The Countess, The Sheriff and The Kraken) in a positive way with no added saturation (in fact, the preamps sound even clearer and cutting edge). As for the Tone knob, you can get a lot of bass or treble for those clean channels, but with dirt channels (as least with my gear) the signal becomes more pronounced on the high end that I keep the Tone knob on the Val Drive II dialed back to about 9-o’clock… and on The Kraken (which has a more harsh tone) I dial back the Tone knob all the way to full bass. I’m surprised I had to do this since on a clean channel dialing all the way back made the tone sound dark and slightly muffled.
OTHER DETAILS: A standard sized pedal, Val Drive II measures 113 mm (L) x 67mm (W) x 48mm (H) or 4.4 x 2.5 x 1.88 inches, and weighs 230g/8oz. The heavy-duty metal chassis is powder coated dark blue on sides and underneath with multiple colored graphics on top (of a woman’s face… it must be Val), white lettering and purple knobs. The three knobs (Level, Drive and Tone) are heavy plastic and will withstand normal use and abuse. All knobs have exceptional quality pots (smooth and very solid when turned without any static or noise). The footswitch (on/off) produces a solid click when engaged or disengaged without any unusual popping or noise. The chassis is a Hammond 1590B aluminum case that provides shielding of the electronic card. As well, Val Drive II also includes high-end audio components (carbon resistors and Panasonic, Wima and Silver Mica capacitors), true-bypass Neutrik jacks, Alpha 16mm faders, and is protected against overvoltage and reverse polarity. The cable input/output and power supply all are located along the sides, and so some modest care is to be taken when used (to prevent foot slippage and possible chord input/output/power output damage). Val Drive II does not run on batteries and requires a 9VDC power supply.
Diverse Overdrive Serves More than Just the Blues (Doc Music Station - Blues Delight II)
By MGR/Brian Johnston, 17/08/2019
This pedal may be dedicated to the Blues (and the tones associated with the genre), but Blues Delight II certainly acts as an effective drive to push higher-gain amps, due to its very clean to dirty range in both distortion and drive. On a clean amp you can achieve full-bodied tonal improvement, but also get into the realm of crunch and edgy lead (this will depend on how clean your amp is, of course, and I demoed on The Countess’ clean channel, which is very clean and slightly glassy).
The reason for such broad responses is that this pedal has three positions (Clean, Soft and Hard) that affect the Drive knob. The Clean mode definitely is clean, offering very mild boost and fullness to the notes, particularly if the Drive is not up too much. The Soft mode pushes the signal somewhat hard, to add edge to the notes, ideal for crunch and moderately intense lead tones (relative to the Blues); soft mode uses MA858 diodes placed in the loop of the operational amplifier (chip). Hard mode increases drive and distortion for a more searing and saturated tone; it places the diodes at the output of the operational amplifier. In all, there are several combinations when you combine the three modes with varying degrees of drive and with a clean vs. driven amp channel. Moreover, like many amplifiers, there is a trim pot under the hood of Blues Delight II that allows you to adjust how much Presence you want in the signal, from very dry to very sparkling. Overall, Blues Delight II allows you to achieve varying degrees of tube amp warmth while respecting the character of the gear you’re using. I did not demo the Presence trim pot inside the pedal. I liked the setting at the half-way point, which added some sparkle, but did not make the guitars sound bright. When turned all the way down I found the pedal sounded a tad dark or dull, but all the way up it sounded too bright. Of course, that would depend on your pickups and preamp/cabinet choices, and so consider my preference in that regard.
GENERAL USE: There are a lot of options with this pedal, and so some experimentation is required with the Blues Delight II, particularly with different pickups (on the same guitar or other) and depending on the gear used. In other words, there are several options, which I’ll address in brief. The three knobs are straight forward enough, being Drive, Tone and Level. How much push, how loud and what EQ you want can be dialed in quickly. However, this pedal also has three settings of Clean, Soft and Hard, all accessible via the toggle switch and all of which need to be coordinated with the Drive (specifically). The Clean mode (center position) produces a very dramatic and open sound – very much like a clean boost, although with the added Drive as set by that knob. The Soft mode pushes the signal harder than Clean, in case you want that added energy in your tone. The Hard mode increases distortion and overdrive even further. Overall, the sound can range from very full and broad without adding any notable distortion and all the way up to edgy Rock lead. The Blues Delight II has one other trick up its sleeve… or in this case, under its hood. There is a Presence adjustment (a blue trimmer) that allows you to add sparkle to the signal. The demo included with this review has the Presence set midway. Blues Delight II does not run on batteries and requires a 9VDC power supply.
From Transparent to Just a Little Dirty, Bolt is a Versatile Drive (Ananashead Effects - Bolt)
By MGR/Brian Johnston, 17/08/2019
OVERALL IMPRESSION & SOUND: Whether adding some clean boost, turning a clean channel into a crunch channel, or pushing a dirty channel for added bite and clarity in the mix the Bolt is a fantastic overdrive. What you will notice immediately is how transparent this drive pedal is, even when turned up full – it brings an amp’s character to life with very little coloring and without compressing or adding mid-humps. Guitar pickups or amps that are on the dark side tend to clear up and stand out in a mix much better, although if you like that darkness you can tweak the Filter on the Bolt or adjust your amp’s EQ accordingly. Pedro Garcia (the designer of Ananashead FX) relayed to me that he designed this pedal to act as a second channel for a friend’s non-master volume amp, a 1970s Sinmarc – it just so happened to work exceptionally well as a transparent Overdrive for other amps.
The Bolt is highly transparent with very little coloring, even when added to a hi-gain amp. With the Drive very low there is obvious energy and depth added to the signal, but without sounding darker or brighter. With the Drive up (at different levels and depending on your needs) the effect is more of aggression and boosting. The Filter has a useful range – when turned all the way counterclockwise there is a nice tight bottom end, whereas turned all the way clockwise the tone becomes very clear without sounding trebly or harsh – more of a sparkle. Whether working with dark or bright amps I found the Filter could be cranked up in either direction without sounding out of place. Also, there is very little added noise in the signal, whether working with clean, crunch or dirty amps and largely due to the position of the Drive. Some pedals have a lot of hissing going on, but not the Bolt.
GENERAL USE: I found there to be three typical uses or (general) settings with the Bolt. If I wanted to give a clean, crunch or dirty channel a slight boost of energy (merely some added liveliness), then I keep the Drive turned all the way down while adjusting the Level (the Filter has no effect when the Drive is all the way down as it’s meant to select frequencies being distorted, viz., no drive = no filtering). If I wanted to make a clean channel into a crunch channel, then the Drive can range from 9-o’clock to all the way up, depending on how much crunch I want, but also how clean the clean channel is (some clean channels do have some grit or may already be considered a crunch channel, as is found with some hi-gain amps). In the demo accompanying this review I added the Bolt to the very clean channel of The Countess V4 preamp and could turn the pedal’s Drive all the way up, which resulted in both a nice crunch, but also sufficient gain to play lead. When added to the ‘clean’ channel of The Sheriff V4 preamp (which is more of a crunch channel), turning the Bolt’s Drive to around 12-noon was more than sufficient and added some nice grain to the signal. When adding the Bolt to the dirty channels of the two aforementioned preamps, as well as The Kraken V4, I preferred the Drive to be around 10-o’clock (a level that added some excellent energy with grit, but without over-saturating the signal). The Filter (which is a bass/treble knob) has a very nice range and its position varied depending on the preamp (The Countess is rather dark, whereas The Sheriff and The Kraken are brighter). You can order the Bolt with either top or side mounting jacks, a great option typically not afforded most pedals (I’m a sucker for top-mounted jacks, but different pedal board configurations have different needs). This pedal also can be daisy-chained (connected with the same power supply) with other pedals. The Bolt does not run on batteries and requires a 9VDC power supply while consuming approximately 100mA.