HardWire SC-2 Valve Distortion Review

manufacturer: DigiTech date: 06/11/2015 category: Guitar Effects
DigiTech: HardWire SC-2 Valve Distortion
The pedal is very simple, it has a level knob, low, high and gain. The knobs sort of click as you turn then so it's easy to dial in on the settings you want.
 Sound: 7.7
 Overall Impression: 8.3
 Reliability & Durability: 8.9
 Ease of Use: 8.7
 Overall rating:
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 Users rating:
reviews (7) pictures (2) 15 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 8.8
HardWire SC-2 Valve Distortion Reviewed by: robertito696, on january 14, 2009
3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 99

Purchased from: Guitar Center

Ease of Use: The pedal is very simple, it has a level knob, low, high and gain. The knobs sort of click as you turn then so it's easy to dial in on the settings you want. The 2-band EQ is such a plus, depending on what I'm playing I can crank up the treble or bass to get the distortion I need. I can also use the high knob to cancel out the slight muddiness of my amp and pickups. It also has a crunch/saturation Switch to go from a crunchy classic rock tone to a more gain saturated on which is great for solos. I just wish that was foot-switchable, not a biggie though. It also comes with velcro for the back for a pedal board, a glow in the dark sticker for the Switch, and a stomp lock to protect your settings. Overall it's very simple but with enough features to be very versatile. // 9

Sound: I got this pedal to get nice distorted tones without having to crank my Crate V18. It does the job excellently. With crunch I can get a nice Sabbath/Zepplin tone and saturation is great for solos and getting a heavier more metal tone. With the gain cranked on saturation I can get a nice Mastodon-esque sound, very heavy and distorted but at the same time really clean and crisp. The EQ is sensitive and crutial, I can't believe some pedals don't have them, and makes the pedal very versatile. Putting that gain at 2 and maxing the level lets the pedal act like an overdrive/boost and really helps my amp break up when I do get to crank it. Overall the sound is very natural unlike the Boss pedals I tried. // 9

Reliability & Durability: Pedal seems very reliable, solid metal construction and comes with a stomp lock to protect you settings so you won't mess them up with your foot while gigging. No problems yet other than it eating through batteries really fast. I would gig without a backup. Even if the batteries do die mid solo it switches to true-bypass so it won't disrupt you godly shredding. // 8

Overall Impression: I play a lot of classic rock and some blues and metal, the pedal is diverse enough to handle all of the styles. Before settling on the Valve Distortion I looked at the Boss mega distortion which was WAY too digital and nasty sounding for me and a Boss overdrive/distortion which was pretty good (I almost bought it) but just didn't seem right. I then tried a EHX Big Muff Pi but there was just too much fuzz (probably didn't help I had to play it through an MG, some bastard stole my seat at a Fender DeVille. I finally hesitantly tried the SC-2 and found I really liked it. Overall it is an amazing little bugger and I am very satisfied with it. If it were stolen I would try a HardWire Tube Overdrive first - heard great things about it, but would get this again if I didn't like it. // 9

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overall: 9.3
HardWire SC-2 Valve Distortion Reviewed by: milwaukeerocker, on august 04, 2009
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 90

Purchased from: online

Ease of Use: It is pretty simple getting a good sound out of this pedal, and a decent variety too. It's nice how the knobs have a slight click to each turn so you can be real precise. There's a manual for sure, but the knobs pretty much do what they say they do, level for volume, low end, high end and gain knobs. Then there's an additional switch that is a dual setting of either Crunch of Saturated. Oh, the light that goes on while engaged is a beautiful bright blue light, just a different change from standard old red, kind of neat. No upgrades on my pedal, and I don't think I would need an upgrade. I'm giving it a 9 only by virtue of the fact that it might be difficult for beginners to learn how to dial in a wide variety of sounds with this thing right off the bat, just give it a little time, and it's quite easy actually. // 9

Sound: I use this with a mid 80's Japanese contemporary strat through (occasionally Dunlop wah) SC-2 Hardwire-ProCo Rat2-Small Clone Chorus-Ibanez AD9 Analog Delay- EH Stereo Pulsar (trem) - Korg DT-10 - Peavey Windsor Head on top of a Randall 4x12. As with many pedals, if you jack up all the knobs you will incur some noise, but this is one of the best sounding distortion pedals, it's such a genuinely great sound. And I'm not really sure "noise" is an accurate word, this is just a very powerful pedal. You can tell just by listening to it, that these things are very well put together, very well made. It sounds incredibly smooth. If you dial back all the high end and some of the low, you get an identical sound of Iron Maiden's first (very lo-fi sounding) album. While your amp is on, and volume up, as you start turning either eq knob to the right, you can hear and feel the changes in sound as you turn, so it's very responsive to what you want to find. This replaced my DS-1, and I can easily get that sound with this guy, I can also duplicate my Rat2 (which I basically have at a setting that works really nice as a fuzz). The crunch and saturated switch is nice, the Saturated setting is just that, a thicker degree of distortion/gain. On the crunch setting you can get some nice Overdrive sounds, but I would recommend having the gain no higher than two o'clock if you want a real true Overdrive type of sound. This would be the only knock, if the gain is all the way up, and you switch from saturated to crunch, it just seems like you turned down the level and gain knobs a couple of notches, but hey maybe that works for some people. So Pick an artist, I'm sure you can find that sound or damn close to it with this amazing pedal. I've owned a Peavey Hot foot, a couple of effects processors (which I never will again), my Rat2, and a DS-1, as well as trying many many other distortion pedals, and honestly this is my new favorite so I have to give it a 10. // 10

Reliability & Durability: Mentioned that you can tell by the sound how well built this thing is. Same goes for the housing, in fact the metal casing even seems thicker or more dense than Boss stuff, maybe it's just heavier, but it seems incredibly sturdy. The way you access the battery is rather unique too. On either side of the engage (foot) Switch, there are spring loaded hinges. Manual recommends using a 1/4 cable to push them inward, but you could use anything that fit's to the hinge. Anyways, gently push in the hinges and the top pops off for battery access. I'm not saying this is anymore convenient (Boss is really the nicest battery access in my opinion, super easy) it's just unique and nice to see another different feature with a pedal. So it seems rather dependable so far, and I generally always have a back up, hence having my Rat2 in the chain, but if I had too, I'd use it without a backup, but I guess I just always recommend being prepared, I highly recommend having two different distortions or overdrives in your arsenal, it works as a different texture, an easy backup just incase, and you can get some nice feedback while both are engaged if you know what you're doing. I haven't owned it for that long, so I'm giving it an 8 simply because although I haven't had problems, two months isn't a long time to determine how reliable a piece of equipment is, although I'm sure it will be. // 8

Overall Impression: I generally play aggressive rock (not metal), some punk influences at times (a Misfit's type sound) to alternative type sounds (Radiohead a la the Bends). I think this could work well for metal players, but always always always try it before you buy it, I don't play metal, so I guess I can't decisively speak for it. I've been playing for around 12 years. I've owned lots of gear over the years, all current stuff has been stated above. I work at a music store so I get the chance to try everything and anything that comes through our store, so I've tried a wide variety of Distortion and Overdrive Pedals, and this is truly my favorite. If this got stolen, I'd replace it eventually, it's pricy for a distortion pedal, but it's truly worth it in my opinion. There isn't really anything I dislike about it, I just love that the knobs have that slight click feel that lets you get really accurate and precise with your overall setting. Like mentioned before, I had a DS-1 which I really loved, but this pedal can re-create that and more. I guess I've been able to recreate most other pedals I've tried with this one, even Overdrive pedals were easy to re-create like a tube Screamer with this pedal set on the Crunch selection switch. Man, I could keep going, what an awesome piece of equipment, I have a pedal crush on this thing for sure, we might get married later this year. // 10

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overall: 9.5
HardWire SC-2 Valve Distortion Reviewed by: ethan_hanus, on january 19, 2010
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 80

Purchased from: Guitar Center

Ease of Use: The thing is incredibly easy to use, it took me about a day to EQ this pedal in with my amp. The tone from the pedal is very high end, both channels on the pedal are very clear, and you can hear every note ring out, even with the gain maxed out. The knobs click into place so you don't loose your settings easily, and the two band EQ (low and high) is very sensitive, just one click will drastically change your tone. It comes with a little rubber mold that you place over the knobs to one, protect them, and to keep your settings in place. The manual seemed very simple and gave a basic overview of how to work the pedal. // 10

Sound: My set up is a custom Valveking 112 using my Custom Metal Squier outfitted with two EMG 81's. I play a lot of metalish kind of music, but I also love my low gain tones as well, and this pedal pulls them off very well. The pedal is not very noisy, even at full gain, it only gets noisy when you run a gain boost with it, but it only gets slightly noisy. I use a lot of different setting with this pedal to achieve certain sounds and tones. But my favorite setting has to be the saturated setting at full gain, its not quite in the metal territory, but its close, a Overdrive boost pedal will easily push it into metal territory. The crunch setting is better suited for light gain rock, and its more like a gritty Overdrive than a distortion. The crunch setting doesn't have very much gain compared to the saturated setting, which I personally like, cause I can put the gain knob at about 7-8 o'clock and I can get a slightly overdriven tone, like you would get by cranking your tube amp on the clean channel to achieve that nice Jazz tone. One problem I have found with this pedal is that the level knob is very sensitive, I have to keep it very low so it doesn't over power my clean channel, I also get a pop every time I switch the pedal on and off. // 8

Reliability & Durability: I can depend on this pedal, the pedal is just a solid chunk of steel covered in rubber, very tough. The thing does eat through batteries like no other though, but has never gone out on me in a gig. I honestly think this thing is tougher than my Ibanez TS9, which has seen much abuse. I would gig without a backup, I expect this thing to be with me for the rest of my life. // 10

Overall Impression: I choose this pedal over the Hardwire TL-2 Metal Distortion, I was looking for a distortion that sounded natural and similar to my Boss Ds-1, but without the frizz, and I also wanted to hear every note ring out at full gain, which is what I get with this pedal. The ML-2 was way to synthetic sounding to me, and was way too much gain. I tested both pedals through a Valveking 212. The typical music I play is extremely low down tuned metal, like Chevelle, Cold, Stained, and such, but I also like to play lighter type of music, such as Billy Talent and Modest Mouse. It gets me close, but I'll never really get their with a tube amp designed for classic rock. What I love about it is that its such a simple pedal to use, and just the overall tone, it does exactly what its name says it does, it sounds just like tube distortion even at low volumes. If it was stole I would buy another one, I got a really good price on mine, since I see most of them going for $100, its just that good of a pedal. I kinda wished it had like a boost function for both channels, so I don't have to use a TS9 to boost it when I want more gain, or tighter gain. // 10

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overall: 7.3
HardWire SC-2 Valve Distortion Reviewed by: SpanishYanez, on december 22, 2010
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 50

Purchased from: Sweetwater

Ease of Use: I bought this distortion pedal for a great deal when I went to Sweetwater. Basic run of the mill distortion pedal, has 4 knobs which are the Level, Bass, Treble, and Distortion knobs. Came with a manual but its pretty straightfoward when it comes to finding what you need. Just like the Boss DS-1, its simple to use and if you are new with pedals, it is a great way to start finding out ways to get different sounds out Distortion pedals. // 9

Sound: Currently I am using my 50s RI Strat, Classic Player Jazzmaster, and Epi Les Paul Custom with a Fender Blues Jr amp and its pretty well when it comes to distortion. However it came off rather weak in the midrange area (it sounds like your amp just took a huge midrange scoop) which I was not really fond of. The distortion was also really tight, when I wanted gritty loose distortion, this is due to the voltage regulator that DigiTech integrated on these pedals which is nice for people that want a nice tight distorted sound, but not for me. // 5

Reliability & Durability: The pedal is pretty sturdy, comes with a few things for live use like a stomplock (a rubber pad that you put over your knob settings so you don't accidentally knock a knob to a different sound...it's a rather ridiculous feature in my opinion), a velcro pad for pedalboards and a glow in the dark sticker for the rubber stomp, which I ended up not using since I don't really play any live gigs anymore. It is pretty durable since these pedals are made for live gigs, I can trust it without a backup. // 8

Overall Impression: Since I was in need of a distortion pedal due to the fact that my Big Muff is not really good staying in the mix of other bands (tends to not be heard much). It did not really get the sound that I was looking for, which is that hard hitting saggy type of distortion. I would not buy another one if I were to lose it or have it stolen. It is a good pedal, I will admit that but not suited for my tastes. I wished that I did not rush into buying it, but oh well we all learn from trial and error. // 7

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overall: 9.5
HardWire SC-2 Valve Distortion Reviewed by: Necronomicon, on november 14, 2011
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: C$ 70

Purchased from: Used

Ease of Use: 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. // 10

Sound: 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. // 9

Reliability & Durability: 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. // 10

Overall Impression: 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. // 9

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overall: 9.5
HardWire SC-2 Valve Distortion Reviewed by: jethanr, on august 08, 2012
1 of 4 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 99

Purchased from: Guitar Center

Ease of Use: I bought this pedal to replace an EHX Cathedral that was having volume drop problems. They feature most of the same modes, in particular the reverse reverb. That's why I bought this over any other units on the market. It has four knobs, seven modes, an internal switch, and that's it. It's a lot simpler than other reverbs that do the same thing, like the Verbzilla or the Cathedral. The manual is nice, but I rarely read them. I run it off a voodoo labs pedal power. // 9

Sound: My main set-up is a heavily modified Fender Toronado GT with tele and strat pickups (neck and bridge respectively), into my board, then into my HOT Rod Deluxe III. Yeah, the HRD has reverb, but I do a lot of ambient stuff, and spring reverb just doesn't cut it for me. That being said, this thing sounds amazing. I have in the effects loop of the amp with another reverb (Biyang Tri Reverb - I know!), two EHX Deluxe Memory Boys, and a Supa Trem. The pedal features Lexicon reverbs, which is obviously a big part of it's draw. One thing I hated about the first Holy Grail I had was how ice-pick-ish the highs could be with single coils into a Fender amp. This pedal lets you dial back the highs. Each mode sounds great, I've ever re-amped a vocal track through the plate setting and I got excellent results. The reverse reverb is great, and we used that type of reverb heavily on our last album, so I needed a pedal that could deliver that sound and this is it. I run it in "trails" mode, which turns off true bypass, but I don't notice any tone-suck. It's about on par with the Visual Sound pedals in that regard. It can get 100% wet and still sound great. I've heard that this is because it runs an internal voltage of 15v DC, So there's no overloading the front-end, something that happens when other reverb pedals are set to full wet. As far as sound goes, this pedal doesn't do the wacky reverbs that the Cathedral does, but what it does, it does well, and better than anything else with a similar feature set. Again, Lexicon! // 10

Reliability & Durability: These hardwire pedals are ripped straight from the Boss playbook, design wise. The switch is sturdy, and it isn't loud when clicked on (something I hated in the Cathedral). The stomp lock is a cool idea - it's a little piece of sturdy rubber that covers your knobs while you play so you don't have to worry about kicking them. Unfortunately, I adjust the pedal a lot between songs, so it is useless to me. The metal casing is heavy, heavier than my other Boss or Ibanez pedals. Seems like it would last a long time. // 9

Overall Impression: I bought this for a specific purpose, and because it completes that purpose beautifully, I like it. If you don't need seven reverbs, get one of the Boss RVB-1's or whatever that straight spring reverb is called. The point is, there are pedals that do each specific kind of reverb better than this one, but this is by far the best in its price range or feature range. There are great spring reverb pedals, great hall pedals, great ambient pedals. But they're one-trick ponies. This is a ton of bang for buck, and when you put it up against its direct competitors like the Boss RV-5, the Line 6 Verbzilla, the Holy Grail, Grail Plus, and Cathedral, it comes out on top. I'd say 9.5, but I'm gonna give it a ten because it really is a great pedal. // 10

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overall: 5
HardWire SC-2 Valve Distortion Reviewed by: pyrojack502, on june 11, 2015
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 50

Purchased from: reverb.com

Ease of Use: It has four knobs and a switch so its pretty basic. Level, high, bass, and gain. The knobs are tight and has a clicking feel rather than a sliding feel so the knobs stay in place pretty well. The switch makes it go from crunch to saturated. Pretty much screeching to heavier tones. This is prefect for those wanting nothing but classic rock you can get a wide variety of tones but dont expect it to make you poop your pants. I call it DigiTech HardWire Joe Dirt distortion pedal. That's only a temp name. I'll be selling it to music go round very very soon. // 5

Sound: Getting straight into aren't we? Well I wasn't impressed by it. These YouTubers I guess have all these expensive guitars and amps that can mold a Metallica "Load"/"Reload" sound with this thing. that's not the case for musicians on a budget. I'm sure they probably have other pedals daisy chained to it as well. I have an array of cheap guitars over the past years and a Marshall 15 watt solid state amp. It has a very nice sound and its not a cheap crappy amp either but not top notch. This pedal sounds as if it comes from a overdrive channel off a decent amp. I'm sure with with an overdrive you can get a decent tone out of it but not out of the box. My DigiTech Hot Rod sucks in my opinion but it sounds a lot like this and more versatile to boot. This pedal lacks omph and roar. For a dirty stomp box I guess its ok but it did not wow me in the less. // 3

Reliability & Durability: To be fair the damn thing is built like a tank. Solid metal. I bought it used so it looks a little abused but digitech makes these pedals to withstand live performances. If it suited my needs with sound would I gig with it? Absolutely. Would I use it as a murder weapon? I plead the 5th. The point it you could probably take a baseball bat, a 9mm, chainsaw, machete, your ex girlfriends new boyfriends head and it will still come out working like Zeus teabagged it before being sold. It's a crappy tone that's built to last. Disclaimer: if you do take any of these things to it and it happens to break I am not responsible but I will find it funny. Then you can go out and get something better. // 9

Overall Impression: DigiTech bombed with the hardwire series. Sure it's became a favorite among musicians with great gear, but they are out of print after 6 years meaning they didn't sell to well. I'm sure in the next few years they might be collectors items like some of DigiTech's pedals but for a budget player I would go with something better. I compared this to a 15 dollar Fab distortion pedal and it was surprisingly close. That's pretty sad. All it is is a dirt box. I'm sure people into mullet rock will fall in love with it but I sure in the hell wont. Try before you buy and make sure its with equipment similar to yours. // 3

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