Whalestone Jade Overdrive

  • By Ian Garrett @tonereport
  • January 08, 2015

Whalestone is a Swedish effects pedal company formed back in 2007. According to its website, they have dealers only in Sweden and Japan, but here’s hoping this changes soon because the Jade overdrive is a real winner.

It’s quite popular these days for pedal makers to design a pedal to mimic a certain amp—and there’s nothing wrong with that, if that’s the tone you want. But the Jade was designed to not sound like any one particular amplifier. Created to act and sound like a class AB tube amplifier, the Jade incorporates power supply voltage sag, achieving tones associated with pre and power amplifier distortion. In other words, it sounds real.

The Jade is very well made with a robust, unique looking case—a bit wider than a classic MXR sized pedal. It has three cool looking knobs that sit somewhat recessed into the case—a helpful feature to prevent accidental movement of your controls when you’re on stage. It also includes a nine-volt adapter on the rear and jacks on the left and right sides.

With just a trio of knobs for volume, tone and gain, the Jade is simple to operate and can be used as a slightly dirty boost, to an all-out heavier, Marshall-like crunch. The volume control has a great range, useful for adding either a little or a whole lot of boost. And the range of the Jade’s gain is great; it starts off with almost no gain to a somewhat dirty boost, but quickly turns into a very realistic amp-like crunch. Cranked all the way up, you really do hear and feel the sag of tubes that are being pushed hard with that natural compression we all love—a neat trick, as there are no tubes in the Jade.

Probably my favorite setting was to set the gain around noon, the tone control backed off to around 10 o’clock, and the volume set at noon (or higher) for a bit of boost. This gave me a nice crunch—but if I backed off my guitar’s volume, I got my clean tone back quite easily. I could easily play an entire song or a set with the Jade on the whole time, and just ride my guitar’s volume control when I want a little more crunch and volume, but still keep my base tone. This is a great pedal for those of us that like our amps clean tone, but want a heavier Marshall or Vox crunch now and then without having multiple amps on stage or in the studio.

What we like: I really liked the tone of the Jade—just real, amp-like distortion, with zero fizz anywhere on the gain dial. One of the goals of the Jade was not to sound like one specific amplifier, and I would say mission: mostly accomplished. It does have sort of a Marshall like feel to it, but with some adjustment of the tone control, you can get chimier tones too, not quite Vox-like, but not far off. Another thing I liked is that there is almost no way to get a bad tone out of the Jade. You can set the tone and gain controls to almost any extreme, and it still sounds good. The tone control doesn’t have a wide sweep, but useful enough when changing from humbuckers to single coils.

Concerns: None, really. If you’re looking for an overdrive pedal that will give you a ton of different tones, or maybe one specific amp-like tone, you should look elsewhere. But that would be a mistake, the Jade is really quite enjoyable and worthy of a closer look.

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