Chilean company DSM Noisemaker is stepping up to the plate with its second pedal, the Drive Maker. As stated on its website, its goal was to offer an original overdrive (versus endless clones of more popular products) that allowed players to sculpt their tones to their preferences. In this player’s humble opinion, they’ve succeeded, especially for the price.
The Drive Maker packs in plenty in spite of its compact chassis. You have Level, Bass and Treble controls, a built-in Gate, and a Voice knob next to the Gain control that increases treble by rolling it to the right, and increasing bass rolling it to the left. Below the knobs are three mini-switches. The right switch gives you three options for gain modes: Overdrive, Distortion, or Broken. The middle switch gives you an Octave option, either raising it by clicking to the right, or lowering it clicking to the left. Finally, the left switch contains the Midrange option, either boosting or scooping if it’s not set to flat. There is also a clean boost option, controlled with a single miniature knob and a second switch.
The Drive Maker also includes an effects loop that can be activated via the Boost switch. Experimenting with a reverb-delay in there, the sound was crystal clear even with the Boost rolled all the way back. The option of kicking on the loop but not boosting the volume was greatly appreciated.
Plugging into my humbucker-equipped Strat, I started with all knobs pointed to 12 o’clock and the Midrange set to Flat. The Overdrive mode gave me a solid classic rock sound in the vein of AC/DC. Moving the Voice knob to the right to boost the treble gave me a jangler tone like out of an AM radio, great for garage rock. The Gate knob kept up admirably as I tested the limits of the gain, to the point I had to roll it back slightly as it cut off my playing too quickly (as noise gates are wont to do).
DSM’s goal of allowing players to sculpt their tones came to fruition when I attempted to dial in a ‘90s alternative tone. By diming the gain, switching to Distortion mode, moving the Voice knob to about 9 o’clock, and boosting the mids, I was rewarded with a saturated but responsive distortion tone. Notching both the Treble and Bass at 2 o’clock, the sound was as smooth as melted butter.
The Octave settings were as unwielding as I like octave effects to be, but were not as responsive as I had hoped on the smoother settings, particularly the low octave setting. I found it was most responsive on Broken mode though, which purposefully clips the gain. Trying the octave settings there, I was in firm Hendrix territory.
The Drive Maker is also just as responsive with bass as it is with guitar thanks to an easily accessible internal switch on the back (one also exists for the boost/loop). Switching back to Overdrive mode but keeping the mids boosted, my Jazz bass was able to produce a driving forceful tone worthy of a cranked Marshall. Motorhead would be proud.
WHAT WE LIKE
The Drive Maker offers a lot of options in terms of voicing and tone, and works for music both heavy and light. Suggested settings are even printed on the back of the pedal. If you’re an amateur or pro looking to sculpt a tone specific to you, this is well worth the investment.
Also a true plus, The Drive Master is true-bypass and it can be powered with batteries, if and when needed.
The octave options could use a bit more definition, particularly the lower octave setting. Using the effect on Broken mode however mitigates this issue.