Price paid: £ 55
Purchased from: Sounds Great Music
Ease of Use — 7
I'd say there are basically two overdrive settings, very mildly overdriven, and quite overdriven. Then you can turn the tone knob up to activate screamy mode if you like. The volume knob doesn't do much, like I said, you can't really get much of a volume boost out of this thing. It's only got three knobs which aren't exactly sweeping so maybe the tonal variation isn't great, but the sounds you do get out of it are good, so in that sense, it is easy to get a good tone out of it; 12 o'clock on all the knobs is always a good shout.
Sound — 9
For those who don't know what a TS808 sounds like here goes: it's a natural sounding overdrive; no fuzziness or artificial clipping tones that you get in Boss counterparts. I play an Ibanez RG guitar, and have tried the pedal through my Peavey Valveking II 20 as well as a Fender Mustang and a Laney solid state.
The East River Drive has a slight compression effect, which makes for a nice sustain boost. Increasing attack on the strings, the pedal responds with more drive and sustain rather than volume.
With the drive all the way down the signal is still noticeably distorted using humbuckers; the East River drive can clean up, but you'll need to roll the volume down if you have humbuckers. With the gain all the way up, you are provided with a highly useable AC/DC type sound. The pedal does seem to unbrighten sound a little, and I do have to use the bright switch when playing through my Valveking's clean channel.
Turning the tone knob does not rectify the lack of brightness, rather, it introduces a screamy character to the tone, which is perhaps where the original TS808 gets its name from. This would maybe make for good screaming solo tones, but may come across as rather piercing otherwise.
How does the pedal work with already overdriven amps? Well, through my Valveking's driven channel, it didn't complement the sound at all, neither on high nor on low gain sounds. The East river drive doesn't quite have enough output to drive the tubes of an amp any harder.
What about the volume? Well, as I've already hinted, the East River Drive does not provide a significant increase in volume compared to bypass, so don't expect to be using this thing as a clean boost. With the volume all the way up and the drive all the way down, I was getting maybe a 10% volume increase compared to bypass, if even that.
Reliability & Durability — 9
It's got a metal enclosure, so it certainly looks durable. The knobs have a reassuring amount of resistance to turning, so that you don't accidentally wildly change your settings when turning the pedal on. The nut on the pedal switch does have a tendency to come loose; it needs a washer I reckon, which for some reason they don't provide. The paint around the said nut is wearing off due to the frequent tightening/loosening action, but it's barely noticeable. I haven't gigged this thing, neither do I really intend to.
Overall Impression — 9
After buying this pedal I went into a local shop and tried it up against a whole bunch of OD pedals in a similar price range; EHX Crayon and Soul Food, TS808 Mini, TS9DX, MXR Shin-Juku (not nice through a clean amp), Boss OD-1X, and some Mesa OD, and two pedals came out on top; the soul food and the east river drive. The East River Drive was the sweetest most natural sounding overdrive out of all of them, it gave a beautiful sustain effect, and packed a reasonable amount of crunch. Needless to say I now also own the soul food too; it has what the East River Drive lacks, a high end boost and volume boost capabilities.
Perhaps when we start comparing with pedals over the £150 mark is when the East River Drive might start to crack at the seams; I don't know though, because it costs £55!
I like to use it with my looper pedal to do some improv over some chords. Genre-wise the kind of music that comes to mind is Santana. I suppose of you are looking for a smooth mild OD, whatever the genre is, then this is your pedal.