If you don’t know about the pedal wiz Mike Vickery from the deserts of Arizona, you may as well be living under a rock. His pedals have been gaining quite a following among internet tone fiends and guitar players seeking classic and authentic tones at prices that can’t be beat. I have reviewed Vick Audio products before, and today’s offering is in the vein of yet another old favorite of mine, the Colorsound Power Boost/Overdriver. Fans of fusion-era Jeff Beck tones (think Blow by Blow and Wired) will recognize this pedal instantly, as it was his main piece in addition to his Strat and Marshalls during the time. Fans of David Gilmour will also immediately recognize this pedal, as it was famously smattered on almost every record up until The Wall. Jeff Beck used it as an extra kick to his Marshalls, providing that sweet, singing overdrive that’s found all over those albums. David Gilmour used it as both a glassy overdrive for his Hiwatts, and as a boost and EQ for his Big Muffs, running it after to open up the sound. If you have a bit of confusion in regards to the difference to the Colorsound Power Boost or Colorsound Overdriver, here is the straight truth; circuit-wise, there is no difference, the Overdriver version has a master volume and is a more subtle hammerite enclosure, as oppose to its big and bold orange cousin, the Power Boost (apparently the American market didn’t take too well to the screaming orange, so the Overdriver was primarily sold in America). There have been quite a few clones over the years of this classic circuit, and being a huge fan of both David Gilmour and Jeff Beck, I’ve played quite a few of them. Let’s see how the Vick Audio Overdriver stacks up against clones of Power Boosts past.
The enclosure is fairly standard; true bypass switch, and four knobs for Bass, Treble, Volume, and Gain. One thing I will mention though, is that I loved the inclusion of Marshall-style knobs on this pedal. This is true to the original design and they feel (and look) great. The Overdriver can be powered on either nine or 18 volts, the latter providing more headroom. The sound of this pedal is very open, perhaps more open than any other Power Boost I’ve tried. Even when powered with nine volts, this thing has a whole lot of headroom, which is great for boosting Muffs or giving the sound a nice clean lift in either bass or treble. It takes a lot of dullness out of any vanilla guitar sound, and it just begs to be left on all the time, as it makes the guitar sound more brilliant and wide, especially on a high-headroom amp. On a low-headroom amp, it’s a very different sound. The Overdriver pushes the front end of the amp, driving the preamp tubes into saturation and creating a wonderfully dynamic overdrive—the way it was meant to be heard. One thing about this circuit—it is very reactive to the amp and guitar choice. Got a high-headroom amp with high-output pickups? It’ll have a beefier sound that breaks up quicker. Got a low-headroom amp with low-output pickups? The drive is more subtle and tasteful. Every builder claims that their drive pedal is “transparent,” but truth be told, they sound the same on every setup. The Overdriver sounds different on every guitar and every amp combination, and it is well worth the time to experiment with different guitars, different settings, and different strokes.
What We Like:
Transparent, clear, and reactive to many different setups. Very open sound that can either be used as clean boost or transparent overdrive with different guitars, amps and settings. Great for use as an EQ and begs to be left on all the time. Knobs are sweet, and true to the original.
On high-headroom amps, overdrive is a little hard to dial in at bedroom/home levels, but that’s the nature of the beast.