Seems like it’s been a few posts since I’ve done an actual review of a piece of gear (personally, I call them pieces of love, but that’s entirely up to you), so it’s about time. I’ve been a fan of SIB pedals for a while now; and while they do have their faults, their strengths are hard to match.
This is the SIB Varidrive.
(hehe This picture was taken years ago at my old bachelor pad. I can tell by the carpet. I couldn’t get any girls to pay attention to me, so I just worked two jobs and bought tons of gear. There was no furniture in the house….just mine and my roommate’s stacks of amps. Mmmm….)
It’s their tube overdrive pedal from a few years back. They now have a new tube overdrive pedal called the Cuda, which I have yet to try. Now, obviously, the first things you notice about this pedal are the weaknesses. It’s gi-normous (hehe, Will Ferrell word…..bonus points if you can name from what movie), it runs off of an AC power cord, and though it looks like it’s true bypass, it’s not; and it does not have a buffer. So watch out for tone suck…you’re gonna get some tone suck. (And that right there was a very obscure and stretched reference to an amazing show that Fox canceled a few years back because they are a collective ignoramous….more bonus points if anyone can name the show.)
But the drive in this thing is just fantastic. Very, very saturated. Not so harmonic, but just rich and full. I have yet to hear a pedal, tube or otherwise, do what this pedal can do. That being said though, it is definitely a distortion pedal, and I don’t use it as that in my rig. My theory on overdrive sounds is to set your amp on the verge of breakup, and get pedals that will ‘push’ your amp into it’s own natural overdrive. This pedal adds its own tone, and its own compression. Which is awesome if that’s what you’re looking for. It just happens that that’s not what I’m looking for.
However, it’s saving grace for me is its gain switch. It has a switch which adds another gain stage. And if you flip the switch, and then drop the drive knob a bit, you can get a wonderfully saturated lead tone. Very boost-ish, which is what I like. And the bit of compression that annoys me for overdrive/distortion, becomes very useful when using it in high gain clean boost functions, because you can go up high (where most solos and anti-solos tend to be), and the compression keeps the highs from biting you in the forehead bone…..you know that feeling if you’ve ever felt it. Not fun. So this pedal, though not designed for this application, became very useful to me.
It also comes with a Chinese no-name ECC83 tube in it. It tends to be a bit gainy, so I’ve found the best results come when using an ECC81 tube. Lower gain, smoother-sounding. And also, the Chinese no-name tubes are really bad. Try sticking a JJ or a NOS tube in if you change it out. The difference will be huge.
Here’s the video demo of it. This is an awesome video, because I just watched it back, and you can tell I’m just not all there. I don’t know what was happening that day, but I play the same riff over and over, clunk the notes, take 2 second pauses between every word, and even say the phrase ‘comin’ atcha.’ Which is completely unforgiveable. The other stuff you can attribute to a bad day. But ‘comin’ atcha’? Sounds like something Vin Diesel would say…….which, in case you were wondering, is a bad thing.
But hopefully the sound of the pedal and how it affects your clean tone both for good and for bad, comes through.
hehe Yikes, Vin Diesel sucks. Oh ya, and ‘Splendid’.