Price paid: $ 160
Purchased from: Pro Guitar Shop
Sound — 9
Rothwell describes this pedal as a high gain, smooth distortion unit. They don't say much else other than that it has more gain and bottom end than the Hellbender overdrive. That being said, the two pedals are terribly similar. If you look at the circuits for both pedals, they're darn near identical (both are opamp based with transistors and LED's in the circuit and the layouts ARE identical to my eyes). But to give you a more direct comparison, the Hellbender is designed to sound like a plexi. It's very midrange heavy and has a lot of growl and bark to it. The Switchblade is essentially the hot-rodded cousin, sounding more like a modded JCM 800 to my ears (except smoother, and a tad smokey, almost like a silver jubilee). The Switchblade has a good amount of bottom end, but it stays nice and tight. It's midrange IS a little scooped (despite some other reviewer's opinion) and, to my ears anyway, the pedal sounds better when your amp has a little extra midrange EQ'd in (the pedal sounds a bit fake if the amp doesn't have enough midrange, hopefully that makes sense). By no means is this an extreme pedal in any way. It's not exceptionally amazing sounding, nor is it for uber-death metal. But it's a GOOD, EASY TO USE, OLD FRIEND type of sound. A sound that you can easily adapt to most situations and be very satisfied. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to downplay the pedal at all, I'm just trying to be as descriptive as possible. Overall, the pedal will take you from a light Overdrive to a decent early Metallica/Megadeth/Anthrax type tone when the gain is dimed.
Overall Impression — 10
I play mostly rock, with some blues and my own craziness thrown in for good measure. This pedal fits the lineup quite nicely. It's good with picking dynamics, which helps me out a lot (I don't have a volume knob on my guitar). After I ordered this pedal I had some serious buyers remorse. I'd been buying pedals on a whim for a while and had been making some poor choices for myself (I kept looking for the perfect pedal, which doesn't exist for someone with rotating areas of tonal interest like myself). But this pedal surprises me because it wasn't meant to be over the top, it was just meant to be good and solid. And that's what it is. I won't say I'll keep this pedal forever, because every time I do I end up finding something I don't like and selling the darn thing. But I will say that I'm very happy with this pedal, and comfortable with it. A ten because I think it's classy (hopefully that makes sense as well).
Reliability & Durability — 9
The pedal is pretty much the same size box that many, many, many other manufacturers use for their pedals, which is perfectly fine (even though I've stomped on one of these metal boxes hard enough to cave it in before). So while it's not indestructible and has its limits, it should definitely last a good long while under regular use. The circuit board is neatly populated, clean and seated firmly inside the casing, no harm should come to it under regular circumstances. But hey, we'll find over time won't we.
Ease of Use — 10
Before I start my rant, this is a distortion pedal. It's terribly easy to use because, like most dirt boxes, it has three knobs: volume, tone and gain (all do what the label says). There is a small manual that comes with the pedal that describes the do's, don't's and functions of the pedal and what Rothwell was after when they designed it. Not really breaking any new ground here, but completely acceptable and logical to use.