Price paid: C$ 70
Purchased from: Used
Sound — 9
I use a variety of guitars through the clean channel of my Laney LC30 and a bunch of other effects. The hardwire sounds great with most of my guitars on the clean channel but it doesn't respond well when used on the dirty channel like some pedals do. I also find that sometimes the sound is flatter than I would like but I think some tweaking can solve that. I compare it to my Jekyll and Hyde V2's distortion side, which is brighter and even more saturated when the gain is turned up. The nice thing about the Hardwire is it has the switch which gives completely different distortion tones. The classic rock side goes everywhere from overdriven tube amp to old school punchy hard rock i.e. Guns N Roses. The saturated side is less responsive to the Drive controls and is used for the heavy modern hard rock stuff a la Disturbed or Nickelback. It's not a metal pedal for me and doesn't get as distorted as my J&H but it has a great range of tones. It is also AWESOME for lead solo tones in rock music. One complaint I have about it is that it's much louder than the other pedals in my arsenal, meaning I have to constantly keep the level knob at about 10 o'clock, to not sound strange when I turn it on. Lowering the level seems seems to be what flattens the tone to my ears but that might be a hallucination. Nevertheless it would be nice if the volume stayed constant as on the other pedals I have. It would also be nice if the distortion went up to the levels of my J&H, even if I didn't use it there, it would be nice to have the option.
Overall Impression — 9
Overall, this is a great distortion pedal. It's kind of like a DS-1 on drugs in the way it's built simple but gives a great sound. The idea of 2 different modes just kicks it up even more. Listen to the samples on YouTube from this thing, it really is quite the pedal. If it was lost or stolen, I wouldn't panic since I have other distortion pedals but if it was my only one I would buy it again. The only things I think could improve this pedal are that if it had even more gain to push it into optional metal pedal territory and also if it had a built in noise-gate and fixed the problem of being so much louder than bypass. Other than that, the pedal is built like a tank, has true bypass, works on the basic 9v, all the good stuff. I'm happy with it.
Reliability & Durability — 10
This thing is more than dependable. It's built very solid and even has a guard that goes over the knobs for when you're on stage so they don't move. If there's anything on it that is vulnerable it definitely isn't on the outside. The knobs themselves are tough as hell and you can feel their weight when you turn them. It's one hell of a build.
Ease of Use — 10
So easy to sound good with this pedal. It has a bass and treble knob and they really do shape the sound a lot. Other than that there's the basic level and Drive knobs with a tough footswitch to go between true bypass and the pedal. Manual is self-explanatory stuff and talks more about the technical side of the pedal such as power supply etc.