DOD Overdrive Preamp 250

  • By Ian Garrett @tonereport
  • January 23, 2014

DOD Overdrive Preamp 250
COST: $99

The DOD Overdrive Preamp 250 is back and better than ever!  Now a part of the Harman Industries/Digitech team, the Preamp 250 has a few much-needed upgrades, namely true bypass to reduce the coloring of tone when not being used, and a bright blue LED, making it easier to tell when it’s in use. 

DOD has a long history of making pedals, going back to the 1970’s.  The Preamp 250 has been the foundation for many other overdrive designs over the years.  Despite the recent upgrades, the Preamp 250 retains its original simple format, and it’s fair to say it’s a pretty good design.

With only two controls, volume and gain, the Preamp 250 is about as simple as it gets for an overdrive.  But if you take the time to find out how interactive these controls are with one another, you can get three different types of effects:
• Gain down low, volume past noon for a clean to slightly dirty solo boost
• Gain  around noon, volume the same, for a slightly overdriven, gritty tone
• Gain at three o’clock or maxed, volume to taste for a heavier rock tone, which straddles the fuzz spectrum as well

One aspect of the Preamp 250 I really liked is how you can turn up the gain and volume, and then roll back your guitar’s volume for a perfectly clean tone.   With another quick turn of your volume control, instant gain is back. You can easily leave this pedal on for an entire song or set and just ride your volume control when you want a bit more gain.

Some might be concerned with a lack of a tone control. I didn’t find this to be too big of an issue, and there are ways of compensating for it. Since the 250 is not a tubescreamer circuit, it doesn’t cut bass or boost the midrange in the same way; your tone stays intact as is. But with more gain on tap, it does get fairly bright at times. This can be addressed by – surprise — turning the tone control on your guitar down a bit. The more you turn it down, the more smoother and creamier of an overdrive effect you get.

TONE:  4 out of 5 STARS
The 250 has a tone that is very clear, crisp and dynamic.  You can play a chord and hear every note ring out, and it has terrific sustain as well.  To me, the Preamp 250 screams “classic rock.”  Inside the bright yellow box I found tones reminiscent of the Rolling Stones and The Who, and even more alternative types of bands like Nirvana.  I liked how my amp still sounded like my amp, but with extra gain stage at my instant disposal.

The fuzzier nature of the Preamp 250 is apparent too, when a lot of gain is dialed in. At this point, bass isn’t cut, but rather the upper midrange and treble are accentuated quite noticeably, which works great with neck pickups or darker toned guitars.    

The lower gain nature of the Preamp 250 was perhaps my favorite, somewhere around noon or just a little under that, with more volume pushing the front end of the amp. Great for that dirty, smoky blues vibe.

I thought the 250 looked pretty snazzy in its yellow flake paint job, encasing the lightweight but sturdy aluminum body. The true bypass switch is a welcome addition, and is easy to power via a 9v battery or a 9v power supply. The knobs are nice and big, and turn easily.  Since there are just two knobs, you can turn them easily even with shoes on – a nice bonus to keep you rocking hands free!

VALUE:  4.5 out of 5 STARS
It’s hard to argue that the Preamp 250 isn’t a heck of a good value.  It doesn’t have a lot of flashy gimmicks or tubes in it.  It is a simple, effective circuit that gives you some great tones, at a budget-friendly price.

If you’ve been wanting the classic tones of the DOD Preamp but wished it had some more modern updates – namely true bypass and an LED, now you’re in luck.  The 250 has some really nice musical qualities inside, and while simple in appearance, there are a deceiving number of different uses and tones that lurk inside. It’s definitely worth checking out.   

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  1. Dean Gordon -Smith

    I was wondering if the DOD Overdrive Preamp/250 is still in production?

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