It’s easy to understand that Pettyjohn Electronics takes seriously its slogan “Tools for Tone” when one lifts the box for the PettyDrive. Seriously, these folks must have used an industrial-quality power transformer because the pedal weighs almost as much as a brick—and that’s a good thing! Indeed, the PettyDrive is a genuine musical power tool, built to buzz saw through the concrete of any mix. Yet it’s a tool with finesse, because it produces some of the smoothest, warmest overdriven tones a person could ask for. It might just be the overdrive you’ve never known you’ve needed.
The PettyDrive actually features two drive circuits, although it’s wired for a parallel effects loop, so it can act as an intermediary for all of the other pedals on the pedalboard. Channel 1, activated with a push of the rightmost footswitch, links to the “lighter,” boost-like circuit, itself appropriately named “Chime Drive.” The Chime Drive will charm the ears, because it will warm one’s tone, add just a bit of high-end sparkle, or even the tiniest bit of grit if it’s pushed a little harder. The PettyDrive features a three-way clipping and headroom mini toggle switch, as well as the three-way low cut mini switch for subtle tone sculpting. Although to some ears the controls might seem a bit too subtle, the Chime Drive channel sounds sweet regardless of the toggles’ positions.
The thicker overdrive kicks in when Channel 2, the “Iron Drive” is activated. The overdrive is smooth and harmonically rich, as would be expected of a boutique amplifier that has been pushed to its limits. What’s especially nice about the Iron Drive channel’s sound is its tasteful restraint. Sure, it will deliver the sort of full-on distortion and crunch that heavy riffing calls for, but the pedal won’t go to excesses that would otherwise distract from one’s playing. The PettyDrive’s overdrive is so smooth that during testing, it never came close to creating shrill, ear-shattering distortion. Roundness of tone, even in the higher registers characterize this effect. For this reason, it’s a more useful “tool for tone,” particularly for tone hounds who need just the right amount of low-noise overdrive, than is one of those overdrive pedals created solely as an exercise in extremes.
People who can’t seem to get enough overdrive need not worry, however, because the PettyDrive allows for the combination of both the Iron and Chime channels. The chimey boost can supplement the more distorted channel. Moreover, the Pettydrive features a toggle that lets the user select the order of the two channels. Boost can come first, followed by Drive, or the Boost can follow the Drive. A signal boost via the Chime Drive really pushes the Iron Drive to its limits.
Everything about the PettyDrive indicates an attention to quality and detail that will likely endear this pedal to musicians in search of good value. Again, this thing has the heft of a brick, and its housing looks like it can take more than one bashing. Be on the lookout for other Pettyjohn products, because if they’re anything like the PettyDrive, they will surely deliver the sort of “above and beyond” performance that musicians always like to discover.
What we like: Astonishingly solid construction of high-quality components along with an ear-pleasingly smooth and harmonically rich overdrive. Jacks for a parallel effects loop. Also, cool jewel lamps rather than LED indicator lights!