I wrote the following about it yesterday after playing around with it for awhile:
Got mine in today. I’ve run it alongside about ten other pedals today in my own examination and it’s definitely a high quality overdrive with a clear, responsive drive character. It plays nicely with others that deserve the accolade of “a great overdrive” – it and the Tim/Timmy, for example, are a great pair, and it sounds awesome with the Barber UnLimiTeD (or, to stay somewhat more topically relevant, any of the Wampler amp-in-a-box designs I own: Plexidrive, Plextortion, Super Plextortion, Black ’65, and to a lesser extent the Tripe Wreck… the latter doesn’t really need or benefit much from an overdrive, it has plenty of dirt on its own and can inherently sound “boosted” with a bit of tweaking).
It also puts some pedals to shame; plugging it in alongside the Bad Monkey is not flattering to that inexpensive pedal. Though I do respect the BM’s sound and features for the price it just can’t compare sound-wise anywhere on its gain knob. It walks on the MXR Zakk Wylde OD, which is a nice sounding, well-modded SD-1, so I’m going to presume it’d hold up great against any close Tubescreamer variant as well. I don’t know, I don’t like “shoot-outs,” they get people worked up to pick a definite winner or loser when sometimes that’s not the point, but it’s got a sound that does seem just better than several of the ODs I’ve thought were pretty okay.
As far as versatility goes, definitely a lot going on. It sounds great into pretty much any amp model I’ve got, and into my physical amps as well. I still need to do more testing but I don’t play anything like Paisley’s material and this pedal still fills a serious OD need for me. It does low gain to hefty crunch without having to adjust your guitar’s volume, very responsive to your picking/plucking dynamics; I can see why someone with Paisley’s playing style would dig it. It really retains the attack regardless of how hard you dig in, too, so chords don’t sound like a compressed “wall,” they sound like a bunch of notes together to make a whole.
I’d like to hear other recipients’ comments on whether they think it’s got any kind of a “Dr. Z in a box” sound. I am a little hesitant to apply amp-in-a-box if the builder isn’t specifically aiming at that kind of thing, especially since a heck of a lot of that depends on what kind of actual amp you’re running it into (that is, a tubescreamer can sound pretty amp-like when it’s run into a nice amp; it takes something special on the design end of things to make anything sound like a specific amp or convey the general tonal signature of this or that amp). Into my THD Univalve, it kills. Thick, but with great definition, plenty of sustain without ever sacrificing the attack. It’s a sophisticated and great sounding design, but I’m not sure if it was intended to be a “Dr. Z in a box,” so much as just a really nice, natural sounding overdrive. It definitely can be adjusted to emphasize different frequencies more or less, maybe even frequencies that a particular amp would have more to do with than others. I want more input, though, I don’t feel comfortable calling that one.
Lastly, I’ll echo the sentiment that the clips on the site aren’t telling any lies. If you like what you hear, you’ll like it in person. I hope to have some clips recorded and posted by tomorrow evening. I want to do at least two, one to convey a single setting I find really nice that responds well to my playing, and another to show how it sounds when you muck about with the controls. There’s a lot of range in it thanks to the two switches, the difference in sound with the presence off or on is pretty big but the mid contour switch has a huuuuge impact on the overall sound.
A simple three knob pedal it ain’t. But it sure pulls off some great tones. More to come in the days ahead.
Annnnd here’s a clip!
I plan to do at least one more. I had some issues with remembering to, uh, talk into the mic consistently, so at one point I’m kind of half canted and of course with the polar pattern it made it sound a little different from the rest. Oops. Hopefully what really matters, the sound of the pedal, comes through just fine.