Overdrive Shootout

Alright, I finally did the overdrive shootout. Check out the videos and let me know which one you think is the winner or winners, and which is the loser….or if you think they are all losers. hehe

The players:

Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face clone (homemade, but not by me)
Hermida Zendrive 1 (running on 12 volts)
Paul Cochrane Tim (running on 12 volts)
SIB Varidrive (with JJ ECC81 tube, on gain setting)
Menatone King of the Britains (newest version)
MI Audio Blue Boy Deluxe (running on 12 volts)
Keeley modded Blues Driver
Danelectro FAB Metal
Ibanez TS7 tubescreamer (modded to TS808 specs)

Baseline tone:

Prairiewood custom Les Paul with Dr. Vintage pickups (most sounds with bridge pickup)
–>
1 Loop-Master bypass box–>1 Loop-Master bypass box–>Diamond Memory Lane on at low setting–>Damage Control Timeline off (mostly)–>Diamond Memory Lane off
–>
Holland custom amp (EL84 tubes, AC30/bassman circuit)
–>65 Amps birch cab with Celestion Alnico Blue & Celestion G12H30

Recorded on the little camera mic, no actual recording.

All pedals in bypass loops.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Forgive the playing, the poor recording quality, the fact that youtube compresses the files in such a way that it actually sounds like a volume drop when the overdrives are engaged, and my knee blocking half the pedals. Oh, ya, and the fact that blog.com won’t let me embed videos. *Sigh* Hopefully you can at least get an idea if you’re looking to try out one of these pedals.

11 thoughts on “Overdrive Shootout

  1. Thanks, Alex. I did do it in the church though, when it was empty, and there’s a ton of reverb. You can even hear it on my voice. Oh, well. I need to work on getting those baffles up. :-)

  2. so…. what was your opinion on each individual one, and ranking them, which scored highest, which did you keep etc…?

    Man, you leave me in suspense!

  3. Okay, let’s see. Ranking is hard, because some of them did different things equally well, but I’ll give it a shot.

    1) Paul Cochrane Tim (at 12 volts)–just the most transparent overdrive I’ve heard. It’s your tone, but overdriven. Really lets your guitar and amp shine through. And the boost channel is a huge plus to be able to go from low indie overdrive to a more saturated drive. Kept it.

    2) Hermida Zendrive 1 (at 12 volts)–one of the most amplike pedals I have played. Very responsive, and almost saggy in places, just like an amp. Interstingly enough, though, I found it to shine most as what it was meant to be (hmm, go figure), which is a bluesy, Dumble-esque drive. And I was looking for a more mid gain overdrive/distortion sound, which this pedal did well, but not quite what I was looking for. I usually just switch to the neck pickup and use the Tim and picking dynamics to cop blues sounds. So even though I’m rating this as number 2, I ended up selling it and getting it’s more mid-gain voiced brother, the Hermida Mosferatu, which I adore. Might even tie the Tim for number 1. (And I might buy the Zen back again to have with the Mosferatu when I get a bigger board…..and some money.)

    3) Fuzz Face clone–I just can’t seem to get rid of this pedal. It’s built in an electrical box by some independent builder whom I can never seem to contact. But it’s just this incredibly saturated and harmonic fuzz. Definitely one of those ‘finds’ that you can never repeat. Kept it.

    4) Keeley modded Boss Blues Driver–wow. I wish I had had a stock Blues Driver to test, too, because I’ve heard those sound great without mods. But I was blown away by the Keeley BD2. Didn’t have that boxy ‘I’m a pedal trying to be an amp’ sound that I find in a lot of Boss drives. It was very, very open, and just pushed the amp into deep, warm, bluesy drive tones. I ended up giving it to a fellow guitarist, though. Just didn’t have room for it on my board, and I don’t use blues overdrive enough. When I get a bigger board, and I finally get a bluesy overdrive, it’ll be nice to do a shootout of just this one and the Zen1.

    5) Mi Audio Blue Boy Deluxe (at 12 volts)–great sounding, warm and open mid gain overdrive. But the Zen (and later the Mosferatu beat it). Still an awesome pedal, though, but just slightly less amp-like than the Hermida stuff. I ended up giving this one away, too, for lack of room on my board.

    6) SIB Varidrive (with JJ ECC81 tube)–they really did the tube right in this one. Just intensely saturated tones. Warm and full and harmonic. And I did find the stock ECC83 tube to be too thin and gainy. Definitely better with the ECC81 tube. Only thing with this pedal is that it really superimposes it’s own sound on the amp. Which can be a good thing. But I found it’s compression a little too much on the highs for my uses. Some would love it. However, the compression and it’s own sound does make this a fantastic solo boost on the high gain setting! It’ll just jump-start the song into a new realm when you kick it on for boosts, and the compression keeps the highs from biting your head off. Wonderful solo boost. Kept it.

    7) Menatone King of the Britains–really, really good Marshall in a box sounds. However, I’m not a huge Marshall overdrive type guy, and the ‘amp in a box’ sounds are not particularly what I’m after. I like to use overdrives to boost my amp into its own overdrive, while lending a bit of their own flavor. So I sold this one. Well made and good sounding pedal, though.

    8) Home-modded Ibanez TS7–just a little boxy. Not bad at all. But definitely not on par with the others. Which is unfortunate, because I really, really wanted the little home-modded and cheap pedal to kill the others! I tried to set it so it would (hehe), but in the end it just didn’t do it for me. Kept it though, but it’s not on my board. Good enough for a back up and grab and go overdrive, especially with it’s two settings. The ‘hot’ setting does sound surprisingly fuzz-ish, and not so boxy.

    9) Danelectro Fab Metal–down at the bottom, just where you’d expect it. I bought this for 5 bucks just to make sure that in all my boutique pedal chasing, that I wasn’t getting to be a snob. So I keep this little guy around every time I think the ’boutique’ stuff is just all in my head. I plug this pedal in and go, ‘Yep. Not all in my head.’ Now, I do know some people who love these pedals, and that’s cool. But in my hopefully humble opinion, this pedal turns my amp into a Fender Frontman. Terrible sound.

    Anyway, tose are the findings. :)

  4. hmm… Next shoot out you need the Hughes and Kettner Tubeman. NICE.
    On immediate, or smaller performances I use it as my preamp straight into the PA (minus the amp) (GASP!!!), and its pulls its own. Sounds great.
    That said, Im still in shock Lincoln Brewster uses a Line 6 Pod X3 live. Thats… like not real guitar.
    But I’m no Lincoln Brewster.

  5. I’ve been really interested in the Hughes and Kettner stuff. Honestly, I haven’t wanted to try anything from them because they’re so huge and I’m already out of room on my board; and I’m afraid I’ll like it and have to get a 2nd board or something. hehe

    Ya, it weirds me out to hear what some of the big guys use. And some of them seem to have pretty good tone. At the end of the day, I just say, if it works for them, great. It definitely doesn’t work for me. ;) Maybe my fingers aren’t good enough, hehe, but give me a tube amp with a half power switch and a decent master volume, and I can’t understand why (even in small venues) you’d use anything else.

    Oh well. Maybe that’s why he’s just slightly more famous than I am. ;) (And ‘slightly’ is sarcastic.)

  6. Have you tried any of the Rockett Overdrive pedals, I personally have fallen in love with the Chicken Soup. Jay custom built me one with a little more ooomph, simply amazing tone. I run a Rockett Boost into the front end of it.

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