Dean Markley Overlord
I really wanted to hate this thing, for a couple of reasons. A: it’s got stupid layout with 230VAC straight from the wall passing right between input and output jack, less than an inch from each of them. Small 12V transformer is on the opposite side of the chassis from mains input, so you’ve got mains voltage going through the whole chassis and then 12VAC going back the same way. B: when I saw it’s mains powered I expected that tube is run at high voltages. Not really, mains input is stepped down to 12V which is used to power the heaters and rectified for plates of the tube. Also, tube is put at the end of the signal chain, like a buffer or something, so most of the sound comes from the 4558 IC.
- 4558 based overdrive/distortion with tube output
- Buffered bypass
- 3 band tone stack
- Drive and Volume controls
- Powered from the mains
How does it sound?
So I thought it’s going to be noise of epic proportions and not so good distorted sounds. Before even trying it out I stared planning what to build inside once I gut it out. The problem is, this thing doesn’t suck at all 🙂 For some reason it doesn’t hum more than other OD/Dist pedals out there. Also, it doesn’t sound bad at all. Lower drive settings give nice mild overdrive sound, which turns to crunchy rhythm tone as you’re getting close to noon position. After that, it increases sustain and saturation which makes it nice for leads. Volume control has enough range to make it into a boost pedal when drive is set lower.
Looking at internals and schematic, it seems to be the same thing as Tube Works Real Tube and similar to other starved plate tube overdrive pedals. A proof tube doesn’t do all that much is that sound doesn’t change as dramatically as it does when you swap the tube in a tube amp. I tried 12AX7, 12AT7 and 12AU7 and drive level was about the same with all three. I liked the 12AU7 the most though, it appeared to be a bit fuller than the others, but not night and day difference.