Price paid: £ 80
Purchased from: eBay
Sound — 9
I am using a Gretsch White Falcon and an Orange Tiny Terror, with various pedals inbetween, linked up with George L's patch leads cut to length. I haven't had any noise when using it, although I haven't used it with my amp really cranked. I have been using an Ibanez TS9 for a while, and was looking for something a bit closer to the sound of my amp when driven. After a bit of searching, I came across this. Some people have said it's too bright, and I can see why, but it suits my tastes perfectly. It is very transparent, and most importantly to me, doesn't have any of the mid-hump tubescreamers have. In terms of range, you can go from a nice 'crispy' sound, just starting to break up, to a sort of AC/DC level Drive, similar to the range of a tubescreamer, but much more 'open' sounding, which I think is the best word to describe the main characteristics. Using the cut and bite knobs, you can go from a smooth creamy od to a full blown, harsh, in-yer-face tone that will easily stand out in the mix. To summarise, it has a wonderful 'open' sounding overdriven tone, with enough range in the required areas to serve anyone well, although the high end may be too bright for some. Would get a 10 from me, but will give it a 9 because of the brightness which may affect the judgement of others.
Overall Impression — 9
I play a wide variety of music, from rock to blues to the occasional bit of funk, or whatever takes my fancy. Pretty much everything but metal. I primarily play in a Christian worship band, which has a sort of soft rock sound, and this pedal is ideal. I have been playing for about 5 years, and this is by far the best Overdrive pedal I've had the pleasure of using, and it's right at home on my pedalboard. I would highly recommend using it with some form of tubescreamer before it as I am to have two gain stages, with the tubescreamer adding some more mids to give it even more of a kick for solos. I would definately buy it again if it was stolen or lost, although this would be a challenge, as you can't buy them in the UK, and I was lucky to find one (for an amazing price) on eBay. But I think I would be prepared to pay extra to have one imported from the US. I have to say may favourite part of this pedal is just how 'open' it sounds. I know I have said this before, but it really is beautiful to me. My second choice if I didn't win the auction for this pedal was a Visual Sound Open Road Overdrive, but it really is a distant second. The only thing I think would be useful to add to it would be a footswitchable mid boost to kick it up a bit for solos, but this isn't really an issue for me as I'm already isung a TS9. To summarise: Very transparent, open Overdrive. Good Drive range. Good tone range. Maybe a little bright for some. Well worth the money, considering they're handbuilt in the USA, and $199 new.
Reliability & Durability — 10
It looks pretty sturdy to me. "Built like a tank" as they say. Solid Metal case with a pretty robust looking footswitch. Knobs are screwed on, so no danger of them falling off. I'd be 100% confident to gig with it without a backup. I would be perfectly happy to stamp on it all day without fear of it breaking. Also, it's surprisingly light considering how sturdy it is. Much lighter than other Boss pedals I own.
Ease of Use — 8
Fantastic sound straight away. As soon as I plugged it in it instantly kicked some life into my sound. Didn't come with a manual as I bought it used, but it's pretty self explanatory. Volume, gain, cut control (for cutting high end) and bite control (for boosting the high end, and helping it cut through the mix a bit more). To be honest, there isn't really anything easier to use than an OD pedal, although it does take some tweaking to get the volume right, as turning up the gain has a significant effect on the overall volume (this is why I'm only giving it an 8, as my TS9 is a lot easier to use when setting the volume).