The term “PDF” is probably most recognizable in a soul-crushing office setting, where documents must inexplicably be available to view in all formats. I’m here to tell you about a different kind of PDF—the Parametric Distortion Filter.
Enhanced from its original form, this latest version features a reduced noise floor, adjustable Gain knob, and a two-footswitch design that allows players to select between Clean and Dirty channels on the fly. Housed in a robust metal box with graphics straight out of a punk-rock eighth-grader’s notebook, the PDF-2 screams rock ‘n’ roll.
There is a learning curve required to get the most out of this box, as it deviates from the standard tone-level-gain setup. The PDF-2’s controls are Height, Gain, Frequency, and Bandwidth. All of the knobs are extremely interactive, and there are a lot of sounds to be had depending on where you have everything set.
Straight out of the box, with minimal tweaking, the PDF-2 delivers killer distortion sounds. Depending on where I set the Gain, I was hearing some Rat and Marshall ShredMaster tones. But this pedal isn’t a copy of anything; rather, when combined with your imagination, it covers a lot of tonal ground.
The great thing about the expansive Bandwidth and Frequency controls is the ability to match the PDF-2 with any guitar or amplifier. We’ve all been there: a new pedal comes in the mail, and you’re super stoked about it because the demo sounded so good online. However, when you plug it into your rig, it sounds like a wet fart. You don’t have to worry about that with the PDF-2, unless, of course, that’s the sound you’re going for. The tone shaping options on board allow you to match this pedal with anything in your arsenal.
Why, you ask, would you want your distortion pedal to have a clean channel? Shouldn’t a distortion be strictly for rocking? Sure. But the PDF-2 is much more than a dirt box. It serves as an excellent EQ pedal, and gives you a third layer between clean and dirty that is especially useful in a live setting. Let’s face it—EQ isn’t a very sexy effect. Fuzz, delay, reverb and modulation all seem more exciting and purposeful than shifting highs or lows. But, how many times have you been at a gig where you desperately needed some tonal shifting that couldn’t be provided by anything on your pedalboard? By switching between the Clean and Dirty modes, you have a full spectrum of sound to choose from.
My favorite way to use the PDF-2 was to set my amp up bright and sparkly, with the clean channel on the pedal being much darker, and the Gain around 3 o’clock, with the Frequency and Bandwidth adjusted to cut out low end. This gave me access to chimey tones, darker clean tones, and complete, gnarly saturation. If that isn’t enough for you, expression pedal capability provides phaser and wah tones using both the Clean and Dirty channels by adjusting the Bandwidth and Frequency ranges.
The PDF-2 is truly a unique stompbox—its wide array of distortion and filtering capabilities make it a must-have for players who think outside of the box and need tools that fulfill needs that others simply cannot. A bit like a bucking bronco, it is wild, and if you seek to tame it, you must dedicate some time to know its power. But once you do, you’ll be rewarded with a plethora of tones ranging from beautiful to terrifying.
What We Like
Fantastic distortion, EQ, and boost. Cool graphics. Expression pedal capability.