Pigtronix Fat Drive

  • By Phillip Dodge @tonereport
  • August 11, 2014

A few days ago, I picked up the new FAT Drive and Philosopher’s Rock from Pigtronix. I loved the Philosopher’s Tone, so I was eager to try the Rock. I decided to try the Fat on more of a whim. I’m glad I did.

According to the Pigtronix website, “The FAT Drive is an all analog tube sound overdrive. The FAT Drive’s multiple cascaded gain stages enable you to nail sounds ranging from bluesy overdrive to rich saturation, all while retaining musical dynamics and the original character of your instrument.”

That’s pretty much dead on. Playing the FAT, I immediately thought of a list of other three-letter words that can be used to describe the sound and feel. 

The FAT responds like a good tube amp. Touch the strings lightly and you get clean tones with just an edge of hair on them. Dig in and you get rich grind and gain. Crank the gain on the pedal and you can use the volume knob on your guitar to go from clean to mean and everything in between.

EQ adjustments on the FAT come courtesy of a variable low pass filter. With the tone knob all of the way clockwise, the filter is out of the circuit and you have a tone that is bright without being harsh. With my Reverend Roundhouse on the neck pickup, and the tone control wide open, the FAT delivered a singing lead sound that had just the right treble content for standing out in a dense mix. Rolling the tone back to one o’clock makes for a nice thick rhythm sound, perfect for rock rhythm sounds. Switching to the bridge pickup with the tone and noon, yields a beautiful amp-like crunch.

Flicking the “more” switch up brings on a boatload more gain and sustain but still retains punch and clarity. I’m mostly an indie rock and alt-country player these days, but this sound had me immediately rocking the intro of “Sweet Child O’ Mine” (and channeling the eighth grade me who spent an afternoon some 20 years ago learning that part and rocking it through an Ibanez Roadstar II and a crappy Gorilla amp).

With the Tele, the cut knob did a great job of keeping the bridge pickup from getting harsh, all the while adding a great gritty twang. And in low-gain settings, it had me playing Remedy by the Black Crowes. While the FAT sounds amp-like, it doesn't sound like a specific amp. There's something about the way it transitions so smoothly into distortion that makes me think AC30 or Fender Tweed Deluxe, but it's more of a feel thing than a tone thing.

I'll be honest, I was having so much fun with the Roundhouse and Tele, that I barely played my Strat or P90 guitar through the FAT. With the Strat, it adds a really nice drive. And with the P90's, you can dial in a great thick meaty tone that is great for leads and riffs. In short, the FAT allows the sound of each guitar to shine through.

As far as combing with other pedals. The FAT performed well in front of and following various pedals. With light drive, and following a germanium fuzz face, the FAT helped the fuzz to cut a little better. Boosting a "Marshall in a Box" type pedal, the FAT created a more natural sounding drive from the "Marshall."

What we like: It’s a saturated (pun intended) market for overdrive pedals out there. But if you’re in the market for a great sounding and versatile drive or just need a new flavor, I can’t recommend the FAT highly enough. It’s one of the more natural sounding overdrive pedals I’ve come across in a while. Get one.

Concerns: With single coils at higher gains, the FAT can sound a little “zingy” and artificial on the note decay. It’s not something you’d notice in a live setting but it might be noticeable on a recording.

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