I don’t know how this happens. It’s not like I intend to have 10 overdrive pedals just lying around. They just start coming in the mail. Like magic. It’s so weird.

So I had 10 of them, and figured, let’s toss ‘em in a bag together and watch the ensuing bloodshed. I absolutely love it. For us guitarists, this is like dogfights……except it’s not as illegal.

ShanghaiNoon.jpg picture by rypdal95
(hehe Shanghai Noon. Some definite shootouts in this one. Stupid? Yes. Enjoyable? Absolutely.)

The Players

–SIB Varidrive with ECC81 tube (JJ)
–Xotic RC Booster
–Paul Cochrane Tim (at 12 volts)
–Fulltone OCD v3 (at 12 volts)
–T-Rex Alberta (at 12 volts)
–Skreddy Top Fuel
–Mad Professor Little Green Wonder
–Ibanez TS7 (home modded to something close to 808 specs)
–Sobbat Drivebreaker
–Hermida Mosferatu (at 12 volts)

The Clean Tone (to get an idea of how or why the pedals are reacting the way they are)

–Robert Dixon Prairiewood Les Paul
–Wolfetone Dr. Vintage pickups
–Lava ELC cable
–All the pedals…no buffers…a mix of Lava and EA cables……and yes, 10 pedals in a row without a buffer or bypass loop do suck a lot of tone……but I figure it’ll all balance out, seeing as they are all in the chain……maybe that’s just laziness, but……no, it’s laziness
–Lava ELC cable
–Mike Holland EL84-based head
–65 Amps 2×12 cab
–Celestion Alnico Blue and G12H-30

The Personal Biases

–The Tim, Mosferatu, and Varidrive were all currently on my board, so I’ve had more time to dial them into my rig.
–I’m not a tubescreamer fan.
–The Skreddy and Mad Professor I can sell for a lot, which would be nice.
–Edge uses a Sobbat Drivebreaker, so it automatically has the upper hand going into the shootout. It’s like Val Kilmer in Tombstone……you just know he’s going to win because he’s Val and he’s awesome.
–And again, as has been in my last two overdrive shootouts, it’d be so sweet if the little Ibanez TS7 with the home mod just pummeled everything else.
–The Skreddy is deep purple, and would look really good on my board.

The Shootout:

The Findings

–SIB Varidrive with ECC81 tube (JJ)
Wonderfully saturated, tubey overdrive. Nothing quite sounds like this pedal. But the compression is such that for my needs, it only works for me for solo tone. Which it does incredibly well, but it’s other uses don’t quite do it for me because of the compression thing. Oh, and putting a lower gain, high quality tube in this pedal really, really helps.

–Xotic RC Booster
Whoa. I’ve heard ravings about this pedal for a while, and finally got to try one. It totally exceeded expectations. The most natural clean boost I have heard. Keeps your harmonics, detail, feel, everything. Just boosts, and perhaps adds a touch of its own flavor, which is very warm when eq’d properly.

–Paul Cochrane Tim (at 12 volts)
I’ve already said so much about this pedal in the last shootout. It doesn’t seem to matter what other overdrive it’s up against, it’s just the most natural overdrive ever. Sounds like you turned the gain up on your amp. It takes your tone and overdrives it. I’ll say it again…the Tim will change your life. ;) And definitely run it 12 volts…the added headroom is crucial, in my humble opinion. Also, the knobs are extremely sensitive, which is awesome. Really allows you to dial it in well.

–Fulltone OCD v3 (at 12 volts)
For compressed glassy tone, this thing sounds really good. Version 3 seems to thin out your tone just a bit, though. But the smooth glassiness without sounding metal-ish is a really, really cool sound.

–T-Rex Alberta (at 12 volts)

–Skreddy Top Fuel
Blasted pedal. I absolutely did not intend on keeping this thing. And then I turned it on. Oh sweet mercy. It’s like a fuzz without the fuzz. Just heavy, compressed distortion……but without getting grainy or squished. And doesn’t get unsusably crazy, either. And……not only does it look cool, but it’s also got a blue led. I absolutely love blue led’s.

–Mad Professor Little Green Wonder
Well, I’m not a big tubescreamer guy, but this is the best tubescreamer-type pedal I have ever heard. The mid-hump actually works for this pedal…it doesn’t get thin. On the neck pickup, this thing can really cop some nice, sultry blues tones……if I could pose enough to play the blues. But what a great pedal. For it to impress a non-tubescreamer guy……let’s just say I was very impressed.

–Ibanez TS7 (home modded to something close to 808 specs)
*Sigh* I always have high hopes that a cheap pedal with a home mod can stack up to the boutique stuff. It just doesn’t seem to happen. Not a bad sound……just quite noticeably boxier and less amp-like than most of the others.

–Sobbat Drivebreaker
Just a really, really good straight overdrive. Full, and a great crunchy sound. This would definitely be my main overdrive if not for the Tim.

–Hermida Mosferatu (at 12 volts)
This is the big brother to the Zendrive. More gain on tap. Just a beautiful, beautiful pedal. It’s like a higher gain Tim. Very transparent and lets your amp’s tone shine through, while still being high gain. And almost no compression. Just raw, amp overdrive, bordering on distortion. Really thick, harmonic, and clear. Cuts through the mix like no other pedal…well, maybe the high gain setting on the Varidrive. Also, the voice knob, as in the Zendrive, is a genius option to get the pedal tuned to your amp. And again, you really need the 12 volts.

The Keepers

–SIB Varidrive
I absolutely have to have it for anti-solos and drives.

–Paul Cochrane Tim
My main overdrive. The more ‘boost-ish’ circuit just lets my guitar and amp do the bulk of the tone work.

–Hermida Mosferatu
My high gain overdrive, and also my go-to pedal when things just aren’t working. It always sounds incredible. Again, the more ‘boost-ish’ circuit is fabulous for letting your tone get through.

–Skreddy Top Fuel
Totally did not plan on adding this pedal. But it’s really, really nice to have a high gain, compressed pedal for those times when the worship leader wants a more modernish voiced distortion. And it sounds crazy good, too.

–Ibanez TS7
I don’t use it, but again, my father showed me how to mod pedals using this pedal, so its got sentimental value. It’s nice to have a backup overdrive just in case, too.

The Not So Much Keepers

Xotic RC Booster
Loved it, but I have no need of a clean boost right now.

Fulltone OCD
Sounded great, but the Skreddy Top Fule does what it does, only better; in my humble opinion, of course. ;)

T-Rex Alberta
I have no idea what went wrong with this pedal. They’re Replica delay is one of the best pedals I’ve heard. This one…well…was not.

Mad Professor Little Green Wonder
If I had need of a tubescreamer, I don’t think I’d play anything but this one. But I don’t right now.

Sobbat Drivebreaker
Again, sounded great, the Tim just did the same thing a little bit better in my rig.

So there ya go. Hopefully this is helpful in finding that right pedal in your rig. Mmmm……legal shootouts.