Pettyjohn Electronics has garnered favor with guitarists thanks to gems like the PreDrive and PettyDrive. The Iron Drive is based on the left side of the latter pedal, and it is the first stompbox in the new single pedal format. Anyone who knows even a little bit about effects pedals knows there is no shortage of overdrive options—it seems like another one pops up every day. There’s nothing wrong with a lot of options, but it can get a little maddening sometimes. Let’s take a look and see what sets the Iron Drive apart.
Level, Tone, Drive, and Mix controls, as well as toggle switches for Low Cut and Clip round out the control set. The Clip switch lets you choose between LED, MOSFET, and Asymmetrical silicon clipping modes, and the Low Cut switch features three distinct frequency alterations that allow the Iron Drive to fit into any tonal scenario.
Many pedals are advertised as being able to provide a wide range of sounds from clean to dirty. And technically, that’s true—if you back off the gain and increase the level on any dirt based device, you’ll achieve a clean(ish) boost, it’s just what happens. But not all of them sound great.
The Iron Drive sounds superb in all clipping and low cut modes, and it worked well with other dirt pedals in my chain. Nobody will need to kick it off their board because it doesn’t get along with other dirt boxes. It also sounds great with Vox amps, which can be hard to do.
With a generous amount of gain, you can get into old school heavy metal territory—think Zeppelin and Sabbath. With the Gain around noon, you still have plenty of crunch and grit, but it is very sensitive to pick attack and guitar volume adjustments. Lower-gain settings still offer a bit of hair, with all of the aforementioned tonal enhancements. The middle setting on the Clipping toggle switch is extremely loud and great for clean boost duty. There are lots of sounds available in the Iron Drive, and I found I got the most out of it when I set it for a base tone that I liked, then increased or decreased the Gain and Low Cut characteristics to mesh with different pedals and pickups.
The Iron Drive hits two major buttons for me: it’s extremely versatile, and it’s also very easy to use. There’s nothing I like less than fiddling with knobs and switches, and the Iron Drive works like a charm in set-and-forget mode. This is a pedal you can leave on all the time—the tonal benefits are well worth it.
Whether you’re looking for character-filled clean boost, greasy drive, or all-out saturation, the Iron Drive will cover those tones and everything in between. It’s built to last, sounds great, and offers a wide selection of dirt sounds without looking like the control panel of a rocket ship. If you’re looking for the missing link in your dirt pedal lineup, this could be it. Or, if you’re just looking for a great standalone overdrive pedal, this will excel in that role too.
In my experience, when you play through a great pedal, you can say a lot, and you can also say very little. The Iron Drive just works—it will seamlessly integrate into any guitar and amplifier rig, and it’s right at home on a crowded pedalboard or as the lone box between your guitar and amp.
What We Like
Versatile drive and boost tones. Excellent build quality. Easy to use.