Category Archives: Effects Reviews

Maxon OD-9 Overdrive and SD-9 Sonic Distortion

OD-9: Suggested retail price – $140

od9_mainimg_02The Maxon OD-9 leads off the 9-Series of pedals and in fact looks just like the original Ibanez TS-9 tube screamer. There’s good reason for that since Maxon is actually the manufacturer for the classic effect – look inside a TS-9 on the circuit board and you’ll see the Maxon name! So let’s dig in a bit more and see what’s new with Maxon’s own OD-9 Overdrive.
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Ibanez TS808HW Limited Hand Wired Edition: The Ultimate Tube Screamer?

We will begin this article with an honest question: Does the world need yet another Tube Screamer or Tube Screamer clone? The original pedal itself sees no end to its use and popularity, and from the 90’s onward there has been no stop in production from countless manufacturers, large and small, each creating their own stamp and version of the pedal based on the Tube Screamer circuit. From low-cost imports made in China that anyone can afford, to custom painted unique one-offs costing hundreds of dollars, there’s a Tube Screamer for every class and budget of musician. So don’t we have enough already?
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Maxon AD80 Analog Delay

Maxon AD-80 Analog DelayIt’s interesting how times change and how trends shift with them. Back in the early ’80s, digital was “in” – whether it was a delay pedal, or rackmount system, digital was new, sophisticated and very hot. Also in the ’80s the cost of digital effects had finally moved down to the point where they were becoming affordable to the mass market of musicians. this point, analog technology and especially analog delay units themselves were “out”. While many pedal makers such as Boss still manufactured their analog delay units, these were relegated as being the bottom of the line and were priced accordingly. Afterall, who’d really want analog delay when you can get more delay time with crystal clear fidelity from a new digital unit?

Now as we sit comfortably within the digital age in the year 2002, there is a new-found resurgence and interest in all things analog. Analog, with its imperfections, coloring, and resulting warmth just seems more human and more natural. These days, the word digital invokes the thoughts of being “stiff”, “sterile sounding”, or just fill in the blank with your favorite similar adjectives and nouns.
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Vox Valvetronix AD120VTX Amplifier & Vox Tonelab

The Vox name should be familiar to virtually any guitarist that’s taken that quest for tone or is a regular visitor to this site. That name is of course associated with some of the most famous amplifiers of all time, including the AC15 and AC30. The AC15 had its beginnings in the late 1950’s with the AC30 following soon afterward – and now, even after more than 50 years with the same circuit design at their heart, these are still two amps that continue to be revered for their tone and are as musically useful today as they’ve ever been.

So when Vox announced two years ago that it was moving toward the production of modeling amplifiers, no doubt there was skepticism about what the final product would be like. I’m sure mutterings of “Why mess with a good thing?” were heard and told as well as how a company rooted in “older technology” would do with the creation of amplifiers based on new technology and engineering requirements.
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Maxon 9 Series Reviewed

Maxon continues to improve and refine its 9-Series effect pedal line. From the company’s early years in the 70’s manufacturing effects as an OEM for Ibanez as well as under its own brand, to now with improvements to circuits such as the inclusion of true-bypass using quiet switches, Maxon’s design and engineering team have continued to explore new territory while never forgetting its roots of early success.
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Maxon OD808 Overdrive

Maxon OD808 OverdriveTo those who were “in the know”, Maxon’s OD808 was identical to the famous Ibanez TS-808 Tube Screamer in nearly all but name when it was initially put on the market in the late ‘70s and early ’80s. In fact, Maxon was the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) for Ibanez and actually made both the Ibanez pedals as well as its own under the Maxon name.

When Ibanez reissued its TS-9 Tube Screamer in 1996 (circuit still manufactured by Maxon), some wondered why they didn’t choose to reissue its TS-808 model instead. Thankfully though, modifications were easy enough to perform to turn the TS-9 reissue into a genuine TS-808 and many offer that service today.

For lovers of the 808 sound that don’t want to deal with modification hassles, Maxon under its own name has reissued its own OD808 pedal based on the same circuit of its more-famous Ibanez TS-808 cousin. The “808” sound overall is famous for its bluesy transparency, touch-sensitivity, and smooth overdrive tone. As tone-lovers, we were anxious to take the OD808 for test spin.
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Analog Chorus Roundup Review

I had recently picked up a chorus unit as I was interested in adding some thickened multi-guitar sounds to my rig. It had been years since I had played with chorus units, seeing as I had largely overdone the effect in the ‘80s as many other players did. I thought however that now would be a good time since I have more taste now to be able to use the effect more sparingly.
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Fulltone Fulldrive 2 Review

FulltoneFD2FtOverdrive and distortion pedals, particularly vintage models from companies such as Ibanez (check out TS-808 tube screamer prices on Ebay), Boss (OD-1 very collectable), MXR, etc., have been very popular lately. One reason is of course primarily the tone that they offer. The other, is that plain and simply, they’re just built better than what you can commercially get today. I recently opened up an old MXR distortion plus and was impressed that it had not one, but four signed signatures on it, for testing and “signing off” on the unit during various stages of construction. You don’t often see that kind of care being taken when building pedals anymore. These days, it is about getting the bottom line (i.e. the cost) down to as little as possible. Even companies such as Boss that mass-produced many units since the ‘70s, did an excellent job and the quality was top notch while the pedals were being produced in Japan. Now, is well, another story.
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Line6 PODxt

Line6 PODxtLine6’s original POD unit has been wildly successful since its inception just a few short years ago and with good reason. Any guitarist can imagine the appeal of having a musical tool that can call up a variety of guitar tones instantly at the push of a few buttons and a twist of a few knobs. In fact, having this versatility in a small package made the original POD a mainstay for studio musicians and recording studios.

While a new loyal group of Line6 users embraced this digital modeling technology used in the original POD, some musicians were quick to judge negatively against the POD and modeling technology in general – even if they never had tried it in the first place! It is interesting that while we as musicians like to think of ourselves as individuals, we can also sometimes be "set in our ways" (how many of us play Strats, Pauls, and PRS’ or Marshall and Mesa Boogie amps in part because so-and-so does?) – and no debate has been stirred up with so much passion over recent years than the topic of "modeling vs. the real thing." It’s easy to see modeling-critics ripping apart these solutions, not only because they promise a plethora of the greatest tones according to how they are marketed, but also because they are simply new and perhaps threaten the status quo of how music is to be made and heard.
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