Sound — 8
This is a very soulful pedal that shines especially well through the front-end of a tube amp. This was tested through very low-gain clean channels on a variety of amps, and the pedal produced very consistent warmth and harmonics. When disengaged, the pedal was absolutely quiet, adding no color and taking no noticeable volume away from the signal. When engaged, there was no pop or click, and there was never any hiss or noise at even the highest gain setting. The Gain knob has the most dramatic effect on the tone. Set low, this simply adds a subtle tube warmth, and can be used effectively for subtle lead boosts. Set mid-range around Noon, this created a bluesy tone, and inspires everything from old Chicago blues to modern John Mayer tones. Set at maximum, the tone becomes full grit, fairly hot like an overdriven Fender sound. The Tone knob felt uneven; the differences at the extremes were clear, and provided very similar results to the extremes of the tone knob on a guitar, but there wasn't much noticeable difference when adjusting above and below the Noon mark. Further, with the Gain set high and the Tone set at maximum, a fizzy unnatural tone started to surface. However, with Tone generally set between 50-75% up, the sound was good regardless of the Gain. The Level knob is a simple volume adjustment; the pedal sounded good regardless of how high this was set, and coupled with the other controls, this pedal could be used in a variety of boost or lead settings.
Overall Impression — 9
The Tonebug Overdrive, by T-Rex Engineering, is a well-made, noise-free, easy-to-operate pedal. With Gain and Tone sitting just over the halfway marks, the pedal inspires with a very big, warm bluesy tone that sounds rich with both single-coils and humbuckers. The pedal clearly imitates many Overdrive and blues-oriented pedals before it, in a very solid package with perfectly quiet operation, which would likely make this pedal sit comfortably on a pedalboard for years to come.
Reliability & Durability — 10
The pedal has an impressive build quality. The top and sides of the pedal are a hard metal, and it has a heavier weight to it than a standard Boss pedal. The control knobs are stainless steel, with a solid feel to them as well, and the on/off toggle is a very thick, sturdy clicking-style switch. The powder-blue paint finish and the curved corners give the pedal a vintage, retro look, like an old muscle car, which added a fun aesthetic to my otherwise high-tech looking pedalboard.
Ease of Use — 10
The Tonebug Overdrive pedal, from T-Rex Engineering, is meant to be a straightforward affair, very reminiscent of the Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive or Boss BD-2 Blues Driver pedals that so many guitarists have tried at one point or another. The Tonebug Overdrive follows in the same vein, by offering three controls, Gain, Tone and Level, to shape the sound, and it sits very much in the territory of the Boss BD-2. The pedal runs off any standard 9v or 12v AC adaptor (not included), or by 9v battery. The battery compartment is accessible underneath the pedal, with a plastic door cut into an otherwise rubber-padded bottom. The pedal is activated by a simple on/off toggle switch, and there are standard Input and Output connections on the top. The Tonebug Overdrive is not a true bypass pedal.