Underrated/forgotten overdrive pedals?

fuzzaholic

Member
Messages
346
I'm specifically looking for suggestions for medium/high gain MIAB/Guv'nor style overdrives. I'm eyeballing both the Bogner Wessex (pricey for what it does) and the Burnley (not the greatest for medium gain stuff?), as well as the JHS @ (used to have the @+, but the boost switch was useless to me and it was annoyingly close to the bypass switch. Not sure about it's lower gain abilities, and it's not cheap either).

Anything great out there that's still relevant, but maybe fell out of fashion just because it got overshadowed by the next great thing that came out?

Also welcome: suggestions for pedals that are NOT obscure or underrated but might have stayed under my radar for whatever other reason. That's a tough one for anyone to know obviously, but I just mensioned it anyway 'cause I recently discovered the Barber Direct Drive and Bearfoot HBOD thanks to this forum, and they both regularly pop up pretty cheap in the local-ish used listings. Also, my main high gain distortion is a Providence STD-2, which made me really curious about the Providence Red Rock OD, a not-so-popular Japanese boutique pedal from ten years or so ago.

I kinda refuse to believe that the fairly uncomplicated technology of analog overdrive pedals has suddenly been revolutionalised by Origin Effects, or that there's magic pixie dust inside a Klon or a KOT.

I'm not a fan of the somewhat crude sounding classics though, an unmodded rat/TS808/250/etc sounds a bit primitive by today's standards imo. I don't want a dozen of controls or a waiting list and a $250 price tag though, which is why I figured I'd broaden my options. No tiny mooer type clones either please, I've had some bad experiences with those in the past. Thanks!
 
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Liko

Member
Messages
780
I'm specifically looking for suggestions for medium/high gain MIAB/Guv'nor style overdrives. I'm eyeballing both the Bogner Wessex (pricey for what it does) and the Burnley (not the greatest for medium gain stuff?), as well as the JHS @ (used to have the @+, but the boost switch was useless to me and it was annoyingly close to the bypass switch. Not sure about it's lower gain abilities, and it's not cheap either).

Anything great out there that's still relevant, but maybe fell out of fashion just because it got overshadowed by the next great thing that came out?

Also welcome: suggestions for pedals that are NOT obscure or underrated but might have stayed under my radar whatever other reason. That's a tough one for anyone to know obviously, but I just mensioned it anyway 'cause I recently discovered the Barber Direct Drive and Bearfoot HBOD thanks to this forum, and they both often pop up pretty cheap in the local-ish used listings. Also, my main high gain distortion is a Providence STD-2, which made me really curious about the Providence Red Rock OD.

I kinda refuse to believe that the fairly uncomplicated technology of analog overdrive pedals has suddenly been revolutionalised by Origin Effects, or that there's magic pixie dust inside a Klon or a KOT.

I'm not a fan of the somewhat crude sounding classics though, an unmodded rat/TS808/250/etc sounds a bit primitive by today's standards imo. I don't want a dozen of controls or a waiting list and a $250 price tag though, which is why I figured I'd broaded my options. No tiny mooer type clones either please, I've had some bad experiences with those in the past. Thanks!
My go-to MIAB fits your criteria. It's the Digitech HardWire SC-2 Valve Distortion:

1649255689489.png


Unfortunately discontinued, there's enough of them around in the used market that you can easily find one, and they're not notably used by anyone so they don't have the collector interest of various other pedals, with used prices currently between $65 and $80.

What they do have is a great range of classic moderate to high-gain tones, from early Clapton JTM through Van Halen and everything in between. Two gain modes, with "saturated" adding an extra gain boost and increased compression. Two-band EQ to dial in the brown sound or the 5150, relay-switched true bypass operation (has to have power to pass sound through but "off" is a direct path), all in the Hardwire die-cast enclosure that makes Boss pedals look flimsy. The TL-2 Metal Distortion is the Metal Zone of the line for modern buzzsaws, but the SC-2 will get you 90% of that all by itself. I've also used Tube Screamers, Klons and clean boosts into it with great effect, so it definitely stacks well, and compared to my RAT, which I also love but for different specific tones, the low end is still there but tighter, so it'll give you a good "chug" where the RAT can be a little flabby.

Definitely worth a look.
 

fuzzaholic

Member
Messages
346
My go-to MIAB fits your criteria. It's the Digitech HardWire SC-2 Valve Distortion:

View attachment 560921

Unfortunately discontinued, there's enough of them around in the used market that you can easily find one, and they're not notably used by anyone so they don't have the collector interest of various other pedals, with used prices currently between $65 and $80.

What they do have is a great range of classic moderate to high-gain tones, from early Clapton JTM through Van Halen and everything in between. Two gain modes, with "saturated" adding an extra gain boost and increased compression. Two-band EQ to dial in the brown sound or the 5150, relay-switched true bypass operation (has to have power to pass sound through but "off" is a direct path), all in the Hardwire die-cast enclosure that makes Boss pedals look flimsy. The TL-2 Metal Distortion is the Metal Zone of the line for modern buzzsaws, but the SC-2 will get you 90% of that all by itself. I've also used Tube Screamers, Klons and clean boosts into it with great effect, so it definitely stacks well, and compared to my RAT, which I also love but for different specific tones, the low end is still there but tighter, so it'll give you a good "chug" where the RAT can be a little flabby.

Definitely worth a look.

Awesome, that's the sort of stuff I was hoping for! But between the SC-2 and the CM-2 though, isn't the CM-2 better suited for low/medium gain overdrive, with the SC-2 always being a little too compressed and brown sound-ish to work as a foundation type of crunch?
 

Liko

Member
Messages
780
Awesome, that's the sort of stuff I was hoping for! But between the SC-2 and the CM-2 though, isn't the CM-2 better suited for low/medium gain overdrive, with the SC-2 always being a little too compressed and brown sound-ish to work as a foundation type of crunch?
I actually have both, but have fallen away from Screamers a bit in favor of more neutrally-EQed drives like Blues Breakers. My Bassbreaker's very mid-focused profile had a lot to do with that, I need to try my two Screamers into my more blackfacey Pro Reverb and see if my opinion changes.

Anyway, they're both very flexible drives in terms of gain. The CM-2, basically a modded Bad Monkey, is built for the lower end of the gain spectrum, but it will easily turn up into a moderate-gain drive especially in the Modified mode which pulls more bass into the clipping amp. Similarly, the SC-2 is marketed for classic hard rock and metal tones, but it will also back off, either with the gain dial or your volume knob. The SC-2's Crunch mode has a more open sound, retaining more dynamic range, while Saturated is definitely dimed Marshall.

That's something to keep in mind when looking at gain pedals overall; while pedals are often designed and marketed for a particular range of gain levels, they're usually capable of much more. I can push a KoT into some pretty serious hard rock/metal gain territory very easily, without even touching the hard-clipping "distortion" mode. By the same token, most topologies, no matter how much gain they're designed for, can very easily give you less. "Hard-clippers" are typically the most difficult to back off, as their clipping behavior is always that hard-edged limit of shunting everything above the diodes' forward voltage straight to ground, so pedals like the DS-1 and RAT often have a breaking point on the gain dial, below which they don't really want to work at all.

Plexis, though, do their thing a more old-school way, taking a bog-standard amp circuit and pushing it past its limits. That topology, ultimately based on a circuit designed for clean signal boost, is still capable of exactly that, and with a little attention paid to softening the clipping of the solid-state FETs that replace the classic vacuum tubes in the circuit, these FET-based drives have a lot of range. That's a big reason I like the SC-2, it has enough range to start down in middling-overdrive territory where my ODs, set for "edgy" levels, leave off, and I can boost and stack from there.
 
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fuzzaholic

Member
Messages
346
two I'm always looking at

*B-E Mantra (w/Lo-Hi switch)

*SubDecay LiquidSunshine v2 (post 2009, pre v3,...18v...)

The Subdecay LiquidSunshine (either version) seems a bit civilised for what I'm after, and I'm not sure what to think of having two drive controls instead of a regular eq.

The BE Mantra has always been on my radar as well. Ever since I found out that the guitarist in one of my favorite bands uses one live, I'm been on the lookout for one. Also, the Musket is still one of the GOATs in the category of modern Muff derivates imo.


I actually have both, but have fallen away from Screamers a bit in favor of more neutrally-EQed drives like Blues Breakers. My Bassbreaker's very mid-focused profile had a lot to do with that, I need to try my two Screamers into my more blackfacey Pro Reverb and see if my opinion changes.

Anyway, they're both very flexible drives in terms of gain. The CM-2, basically a modded Bad Monkey, is built for the lower end of the gain spectrum, but it will easily turn up into a moderate-gain drive especially in the Modified mode which pulls more bass into the clipping amp. Similarly, the SC-2 is marketed for classic hard rock and metal tones, but it will also back off, either with the gain dial or your volume knob. The SC-2's Crunch mode has a more open sound, retaining more dynamic range, while Saturated is definitely dimed Marshall.

That's something to keep in mind when looking at gain pedals overall; while pedals are often designed and marketed for a particular range of gain levels, they're usually capable of much more. I can push a KoT into some pretty serious hard rock/metal gain territory very easily, without even touching the hard-clipping "distortion" mode. By the same token, most topologies, no matter how much gain they're designed for, can very easily give you less. "Hard-clippers" are typically the most difficult to back off, as their clipping behavior is always that hard-edged limit of shunting everything above the diodes' forward voltage straight to ground, so pedals like the DS-1 and RAT often have a breaking point on the gain dial, below which they don't really want to work at all.

Plexis, though, do their thing a more old-school way, taking a bog-standard amp circuit and pushing it past its limits. That topology, ultimately based on a circuit designed for clean signal boost, is still capable of exactly that, and with a little attention paid to softening the clipping of the solid-state FETs that replace the classic vacuum tubes in the circuit, these FET-based drives have a lot of range. That's a big reason I like the SC-2, it has enough range to start down in middling-overdrive territory where my ODs, set for "edgy" levels, leave off, and I can boost and stack from there.

Thanks for that info, that makes a lot of sense. You sold me on the SC-2, now it's just a matter of finding a good deal for one.
 

ShonRomeoBey

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
431
I've mentioned this so many times but very happy to again: Wampler Dual Fusion, if you are okay with the slightly larger footprint I think it's worth a try.

Two circuits that can be stacked or run independently, reverse the order, and they're slight variations of well-loved circuits from his other OD's.

I only sold mine when I was able to accurately replicate it by stacking two OD blocks in my AX8. If I was not using that as my main rig it would be a hard, hard keeper.
 

PatrickE_FenderADV

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
29,745
The Lovepedal Amp 50 never got its due IMHO… a single knob that goes from slight boost to screaming Marshally goodness. I can’t believe I bought mine for a mere $60!
 

JereDigi

Member
Messages
480
My go-to MIAB fits your criteria. It's the Digitech HardWire SC-2 Valve Distortion:

View attachment 560921

Unfortunately discontinued, there's enough of them around in the used market that you can easily find one, and they're not notably used by anyone so they don't have the collector interest of various other pedals, with used prices currently between $65 and $80.

What they do have is a great range of classic moderate to high-gain tones, from early Clapton JTM through Van Halen and everything in between. Two gain modes, with "saturated" adding an extra gain boost and increased compression. Two-band EQ to dial in the brown sound or the 5150, relay-switched true bypass operation (has to have power to pass sound through but "off" is a direct path), all in the Hardwire die-cast enclosure that makes Boss pedals look flimsy. The TL-2 Metal Distortion is the Metal Zone of the line for modern buzzsaws, but the SC-2 will get you 90% of that all by itself. I've also used Tube Screamers, Klons and clean boosts into it with great effect, so it definitely stacks well, and compared to my RAT, which I also love but for different specific tones, the low end is still there but tighter, so it'll give you a good "chug" where the RAT can be a little flabby.

Definitely worth a look.
The DOD Gunslinger was basically the Saturation mode of this pedal. Both are worthwhile though I loved the Hardwire enclosure.
 

Radspin

Member
Messages
1,439
Don’t know if you’d call it an MIAB or not but, the Boss OD-3. They’ve gone up in price in today’s ridiculously inflated market but you can get them for under $100 used and not much more than that new, though the new ones are of SMT construction and I don’t know if they sound any differen.
 

04andrew22

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
532
Zvex box of rock / distortron / double rock -- its definitely more in the medium-gain category but with the boost circuit I think it can get you into the territory you're looking for. I think still it's one of the greatest MIAB pedals that practically no one talks about anymore since zvex is no longer the current flavor of the month.
 

DarnWeight

Member
Messages
156
The Ninevolt Pedals I Was A Wolf In The Forest Distortion is a favorite Marshall-sounding OD/Distortion of mine. Long discontinued, they were cheap at the time of release, but I've no idea how current used prices stack up. Mine's seen out a lot of pricier dirt pedals, and remains on my main board to this day. Still have no idea what it's based on exactly, but no doubt it's a modded clone of something or other (it's what the Ninevolt range was all about).

Check youtube for Brett Kingman's demo of it to see if it fits the bill for the range of gain you're after.
 

fuzzaholic

Member
Messages
346
I've mentioned this so many times but very happy to again: Wampler Dual Fusion, if you are okay with the slightly larger footprint I think it's worth a try.

Two circuits that can be stacked or run independently, reverse the order, and they're slight variations of well-loved circuits from his other OD's.

I only sold mine when I was able to accurately replicate it by stacking two OD blocks in my AX8. If I was not using that as my main rig it would be a hard, hard keeper.

Neither cheap or compact, so I'm gonna have to pass. Sounds great though, I might have to remember this one if I ever decide to go with a second tiny pedalboard that needs a twin overdrive pedal.
Brian Wampler knows how to build dirt pedals, I've been seriously impressed with 3 of his pedals that I owned/tried.

The Lovepedal Amp 50 never got its due IMHO… a single knob that goes from slight boost to screaming Marshally goodness. I can’t believe I bought mine for a mere $60!

A single knob is a bit too minimalistic. No seperate volume and gain controls, and no tone control to tweak when I switch from my LP to my Jazzmaster...:(

The DOD Gunslinger was basically the Saturation mode of this pedal. Both are worthwhile though I loved the Hardwire enclosure.

I used to have one. Amazing od considering the small price I payed back in the day. But it was a bit too harsh and OCD'ish for my taste. Might've been my amp, no sure. I also remember being hit by a major case of GAS, that was really the main reason I flipped it. Seems like they're hard to find these days, at least for a good price.

Don’t know if you’d call it an MIAB or not but, the Boss OD-3. They’ve gone up in price in today’s ridiculously inflated market but you can get them for under $100 used and not much more than that new, though the new ones are of SMT construction and I don’t know if they sound any differen.

Always wanted to try an OD-3. They'e supposed to have a bit more gain than the BD-2, right? In all the youtube clips I checked it doens't seem to have a lot of hair, seems hardly dirtier than a tubescreamer. Sounds about right?

Zvex box of rock / distortron / double rock -- its definitely more in the medium-gain category but with the boost circuit I think it can get you into the territory you're looking for. I think still it's one of the greatest MIAB pedals that practically no one talks about anymore since zvex is no longer the current flavor of the month.

I just sold my thrusty old Distortron. It was noisy as hell, and it just couldn't compete with the JHS @/AC imo. It might be a JTM vs JCM thing, I don't know.

Crunchbox in all of its versions.

Tried the crunchbox several times, in different versions. I actually prefered the Boss BD-2, the JHS overdrives, the OCD,...something about the crunch box that sounded really artificial, not at all like the raving reviews I read all over the internet.

You considered trying the Boss OD-1X yet? It's pretty great.

I haven't. No reason to be prejudice about the fact it's digital? It's got more gain than the OD-3, right?

The Ninevolt Pedals I Was A Wolf In The Forest Distortion is a favorite Marshall-sounding OD/Distortion of mine. Long discontinued, they were cheap at the time of release, but I've no idea how current used prices stack up. Mine's seen out a lot of pricier dirt pedals, and remains on my main board to this day. Still have no idea what it's based on exactly, but no doubt it's a modded clone of something or other (it's what the Ninevolt range was all about).

Check youtube for Brett Kingman's demo of it to see if it fits the bill for the range of gain you're after.

Kinda obscure and unobtainable, no?

MI Audio Crunch Box is a good one

The only version I never tried is the latest 'super' CB. I guess it wouldn't hurt to try one out if I come across a good deal. Never tried the other versions at lower gain settings. Any idea what to expect?
 

DarnWeight

Member
Messages
156
I wasn't sure about current availablity, but it does look like Animals Pedals have the I Was A Wolf in their current line-up, with rejigged artwork and their new template/layout...

s-l1600.jpg


I'm seeing listings for these on eBay, so it looks like they are still available to purchase from new.
 




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