I’m pretty sure that Mad Professor has a mindreader on staff—maybe a powerful Finnish warlock or a mutant with some kind of telepathic ability. Because I’m telling you—they know my thoughts.
See, I recently attempted to make the original Sweet Honey Overdrive a fixture on my personal pedalboard. I was drawn to its great sound and responsiveness, only to end up stymied by its lack of traditional EQ controls. I play into a three-knob amp and—though I loved the concept and function of the SHOD’s unique Focus knob—it just didn’t give me the tonal range I needed overall.
And then, almost like they were in my head, the team at Mad Professor unveiled a deluxe version of the Sweet Honey with all the features I loved and an enhanced EQ section. Staff warlock—that’s gotta be it.
Sweet as… Honey
In an article I penned for the 75th issue of Tone Report Weekly about low-gain overdrives, I said that the sensitivity and responsiveness of the Sweet Honey Overdrive could not be overstated. I still believe this. In fact, though I’ve played more than my fair share of drive pedals, the original SHOD ranks at or near the top of my list of pedals that felt most “amp like” under my fingers.
The deluxe version is no different.
Like its predecessor, The Sweet Honey Deluxe responds to your picking dynamics very much like a real tube amp would. Many overdrives try to replicate this experience, but few succeed as well as the Sweet Honey. Even toward the upper limits of its gain range, softer picking will yield clean-ish notes, while heavy downstrokes will become fully distorted.
This delicate balance of clean and dirty is further enhanced by the Sweet Honey’s unique Focus control that I mentioned previously. In short, this knob tweaks how easily the circuit distorts. When fully counterclockwise, the grind is mellower and considerably less aggressive. Turing the Focus knob clockwise will create earlier distortion, as well as add a pleasant sizzle and a slight treble boost.
Thanks to this clever implementation, both the original SHOD and the Deluxe are excellent tools to push an already driven amp to the breaking point. They’re great to use as a standalone drive, too, and clean up well with your volume knob. But where the two part ways is in the EQ section. The Deluxe adds a post-distortion treble cut-boost and a pre-distortion control that shifts how the bass and low mids are distorted. These controls combine to add an ideal level of tonal customization, helping you match the pedal to whatever amp and guitar combination you have.
Of course, the Focus control still adds some brightness in the Deluxe version, just like the original, so one thing that might take some getting used to—and that could be problematic for frequent knob twisters—are the minor adjustments that may be required to get the tonal focus in balance.
What we like:
On the whole, the Sweet Honey Deluxe delivers a very solid low-to-medium-gain experience. The Deluxe version is a significant upgrade from the standard version and well worth the extra cash. And if you’re someone who’s obsessed with dynamics and want an overdrive to match your style, listen closely—this is it.
I’m nitpicking here, but the range of the Gain control isn’t quite as broad as I’d expect from such a refined overdrive. In fact, the change in gain structure after about 10 o’clock on the knob is negligible at best. Tweaking the Focus control will add some sizzle and grit, but I hoped for more.