GarageTone Drivetrain review by Visual Sound

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  • Sound: 8
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 7
  • Ease of Use: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 7.8 Good
  • Users' score: 5.5 (11 votes)
Visual Sound: GarageTone Drivetrain

Sound — 8
I use this pedal with a variety of guitars, a Fender Strat w/custom shop '54 pickups, PRS SE 22 w/Dimarzios, and an Ibanez 335-style hollowbody, and for amps usually an Egnater Tweaker. I wanted a pedal that was a little more "transparent" sounding than a tubescreamer. Don't get me wrong, I love a good TS, have 2 on my board, but no matter what amp you use, a TS sounds like a TS, period. I had looked at the Hermida Zendrive and the Visual Sound Open Road, but when I saw that this pedal had the bass control I was drawn to it, because I sometimes find just a tone knob on a pedal to be limiting. Turns out that was a good call, because I can use the bass and treble to match the pedal to the amp settings I'm using. For example, in the Fender mode on my Tweaker, I turn the treble down and bass up on the Drivetrain to compensate for the amp's brightness, and when I turn it on, I still hear a Fender amp coming through. In that way, you can adjust to match the guitar and amp combination you're using, and you still get the same tone, just with overdrive. The Drive sound itself is very organic and convincing, and fairly smooth. Not as smooth as the Zen, but still very nice. The Drivetrain will reach a moderate overdrive, personally I could go for a bit more, but it still sounds great for what it is. It sounds especially good for single coil blues tones - it keeps the low end thump for playing SRV licks that I tend to lose with a TS. Also sounds great with humbuckers for a moderate classic rock sound. The only downside to the sound is if you push it too hard with a boost pedal or a TS, it can make the Drive muted and weird (you have to push it pretty hard though).

Overall Impression — 8
I use this pedal mostly for blues and classic rock (though I play other styles) and it does a great job. It doesn't sound as good as the Hermida Zendrive or the Hogarth Alpha Drive, but for purpose of comparison I would put it in the same general category, and it still sounds very good. Not just "for the price" either (though the extra cash sure does feel good in my pocket). Like I said, I do wish it had a little more drive, but all factors considered, a great overdrive. Definitely check one out.

Reliability & Durability — 7
I'm not very hard on my pedals, so it's difficult for me to rate the durability. It has a standard footswitch, and the metal casing seems to be of moderate thickness. I could see the knobs getting messed up if you stomped on them accidentally, but no more so than most other pedals. Personally, I've had no problems with it. I will say that if something does happen, Visual Sound is the best company I've ever dealt with for repairs. If you send your pedal in to them, they will personally repair almost anything for a flat $25 fee - which is awesome.

Ease of Use — 8
This pedal is very easy to use. The controls (drive, bass, treble, volume) are very straightforward and do exactly what they say. If you're more familiar with tubescreamer type pedals that only have a tone knob, the addition of a bass control might take a little getting used to, but it's by no means hard to use. Once you learn how to adjust it to match the type of amp and amp settings you're using, getting a good sound is a breeze.

2 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I bought this pedal about a month and a half ago and use it in my back up rig. It's great I cascade the gain on my VK for my leads and it does that quite nicely. when I was in the store I did a side by side with the Bad Monkey and this has more gain and sounds a bit better a great boost/OD and sounds great. worth the $60