Gas FX Drive Thru Overdrive

November 8, 2012

“THERE ARE ONLY SO MANY WAYS TO build an overdrive,” Gas FX tells us, but the key to their Drive Thru ($299) lies in just how they put these relatively simple ingredients together. The U.K.-based pedal maker has been tweaking the recipe for more than a decade, all by way of creating an overdrive that interacts seamlessly with a good tube amp. Any new iteration that truly elevates our playing experience is definitely worth checking out.

Removing the bottom plate from the chunky 4w" x 3w" x 2r" box reveals a hand- wired turret board populated by high-quality components—carbon-comp resistors, mica and paper-in-oil capacitors—with pots and switches entirely chassis mounted. It’s a tidy op-amp-powered design with a choice of silicone or germanium diodes for grit, all governed by straightforward Volume, Tone, and Gain controls and a “Ge/Si” mini-switch for selecting between germanium and silicon diodes. Switching is true bypass.

Tested with various guitars into clean and semi-cranked tube amps the Drive Thru proved extremely dynamic and touch-sensitive—a natural enhancement of the guitar-to-amp bond. The germanium setting was softer and smoother, but delightfully toothsome, while silicon gave more cut and bite without being at all harsh. There’s plenty of gain on tap when needed, but at lower-to-medium settings the pedal still offers a fast track to the amp’s sweet spot, delivering a thick, meaty tone that is delectably juicy. The term “organic” is overused, but it’s hard to avoid it here. Set approximately to unity gain, the Drive Thru sounded virtually transparent, adding a slightly perceptible fatness if anything, and it retained that clarity as I increased drive levels and heaped on the hair. Another bonus, surprising in an overdrive, was the ease with which this pedal ushered in edge-of-feedback sustain and all-out feedback when desired. Gorgeous stuff, and a hard one to switch off!

KUDOS A very juicy, transparent, touch-sensitive overdrive. Well built.
CONCERNS Could be a little chunky for some boards.

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