Hey guys, Brian here again with World Music Supply, back to bring you another dose of Guitar and gear reviews. Today starts off a lot like last week ended, simply because today we are again reviewing some amazing stomp boxes, but this time around from our friends over at Visual Sounds. I have been a big fan of Visual Sounds pedals ever since I got to play with a Jekyll and Hyde overdrive that a friend of mine owned, it was big and red, and it sounded amazing, also my friend said you could back a truck over the housing and it wouldn’t break. We never tested that last part, but I’ve seen Youtube videos that prove its true. However that is enough reminiscing, its on to the reviews!
First up is the Garage Tone Drivetrain Overdrive. The Drivetone was originally designed as the Reverend Drivetrain for Reverend Guitars, which has now grown overtime into this current model. For today’s reviews, I used a Bugera V22, and a Washburn RX12FRMB, both of which are quickly becoming two of my favorite pieces of gear. Setting the V22 to a pretty clean setting, that only started to show a bit of teeth when I really hit the guitar, I started the pedal on a pretty mild drive setting, with the treble and bass pretty close to 12 o’clock. The pedal reacted nicely to my pick attack, getting more subtle as I picked lighter, and becoming far crunchier as I dug into the strings, with a tone halfway between a Digitech Bad Monkey, and a Boss Blues Driver.
The Drivetrain kept this cool retro sounding distortion as I cranked up the gain, it just got a lot more raw sounding, and added a plethora of fun harmonics to my sound. Chords rung out with a big, arena rock style fullness, and single lines sung out with a throaty, late 70s style rock sound. I could go on and on about this pedal, but the truth of it is, it’s a trooper. Its got a tough metal housing, with sounds that could be useful for everyone from a country guitarist needing to liven up their solos a bit, a rock guitarist looking to get a fuller sound, or even a punk guitarist who just needs something a little less ragged sounding, this pedal can do it all. For all of that and more the Visual Sound Garage Tone Drivetrain earns itself a solid 9 out of 10, and the only reason it doesn’t score a 10 is because people wanting something a little more high gain might not find what they want with this guy.
Next up is the solution for those people whose lust for gain couldn’t be satiated by the Drivetrain. I’m talking about the V2 Son of Hyde. Basically the Son of Hyde is the amazing Distortion channel that I loved so much from the Jekyll & Hyde and puts it in a stand alone stomp box. The Son of Hyde is just as straight ahead as the Drivetrain, just Drive, Treble, Mid and Volume, as well as a bright switch. Yes there isn’t a bass knob, which struck me as odd, but the bass is controlled easily enough with the bright switch, which shifts the whole sound around and gives it a brighter overall feeling.
On lower gain settings, this pedal was fairly tame, it gave me a nice, smooth, almost violin like sustain, with lots of rich harmonics and none of that typical distortion edginess. Turning up the drive a bit, gave me a huge sound, with tons of raw power. The low end was massive and playing huge chunky power chords resulted in an amazing wall of fury. Solos soared out with heavily compressed sizzle, and chords sustained almost indefinitely. Big metal saturation was always on tap, and shred head approved leads were fluid and amazingly easy to achieve. The Son of Hyde might be only half of the standard package, but this pedal to the metal style stomp box does its job, and it does it well, earning it an easy 10 out of 10.
Next up is easily one of the smartest double pedal designs I’ve seen in years, the Visual Sounds Route 66 All American Overdrive. There is no better way to describe this pedal than all American, the tones locked inside of this pedal go from Detroit, to Boston, to Tennessee to Texas, and they cover all of the biggest, boldest rock and roll and raunchy country tones of the past fifty years. The amazing simplicity that this pedal brings to a rig, with its amazing sounding overdrive paired with an equally amazing sounding compressor. The overdrive side starts with the three standard Tube Screamer style control knobs, Gain, Tone and Volume but also an added bass boost to help thicken up the grind. The compressor side, has the standard comp and gain controls, sort of like an MXR but paired with that, is a tone control which can be turned on and off as need be to help shape and control the overall sound.
While this seems simple enough, this pedal has some amazing sounds hidden away in it. From twangy Brad Paisley style cluck, to Journey style soaring leads, this pedal has it all, crammed neatly into one nearly indestructible aluminum housing. Most guitarists could be perfectly happy with either side of this double pedal, but put together, this little double pedal is just amazing, heck I’m pretty sure most country players could live the rest of their musical lives with just this pedal, a Fender 65 Deluxe and a fat Telecaster. Chords had a bold semi clean, semi dirty tone to them with the gain down low, and when you cranked the gain up, they had a very Marshally crunch to them that kept the clarity of the note but added the beefy power of an overdrive. Single notes lasted forever with an intensity that just can’t be matched. Playing complex chords was simple, and no matter the setting, the notes very rarely lost their clarity or their character.
I honestly think myself, and hundreds of other guitarists could easily replace a good number of pedals with this one double box, and our sounds would benefit immensely from it, this reason alone earns the Route 66 a solid 10 out of 10.