Field Test: Electro-Harmonix Operation Overlord and Tone Corset

We take a look at Electro-Harmonix's terrific Operation Overlord and Tone Corset pedals in this review.
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Billed as a stereo multi-instrumental overdrive, the Operation Overload (a.k.a. the code name for the Invasion of Normandy in WWII) packs pairs of left and right 1/4" input and outputs, and features a footswitchable Boost function along with active 3-band EQ, a Dry blend control, and a 3-position switch for setting input level. It’s all about making the Overlord suitable for guitar, bass, keys, etc., and you can even have the Boost function be independent of the JFET overdrive stages by selecting “Boost Independent” on a slider switch that resides inside the die-cast aluminum housing (put on your readers to find it though!).

I’ve used the Overlord ($147 street) on several gigs and have appreciated its tube-like distortion, ability to deliver gutsy lows and mids while staying sweet on top, and the ease with which you can dial in tones via its phalanx of controls. The stereo outs are handy for dual-amp setups, and there’s no shortage of ways to configure this pedal in a full stereo rig. Normal mode on the Input Level switch worked well across the board with a Les Paul and a Tele, and, with the Gain set at around 3 o’clock, there was plenty of distortion for solos while still being able to clean things up using guitar-volume adjustments. Power is supplied by an included 9v adapter.

Kudos True-stereo operation. Boost can be configured independently if desired. Rich distortion and loads of output.
Concerns No provision for battery power.

TONE CORSET

Everyone needs a compressor right? Maybe so, but the Tone Corset ($89) Analog Compressor/Sustainer makes a compelling case because it sounds great and offers plenty of options for dialing in the compression. The Attack control adjusts how quickly the compressor recovers from picking attack, while the Blend knob varies the mix of dry and compressed signals sent to the output. Sustain governs the amount of compression, and Volume adjusts the output level. There is also a Pad switch to accommodate instruments with high outputs. Power is supplied by a 9v battery or optionaI AC adapter.

Whether going for subtle or more extreme levels of compression, the Tone Corset easily provided just the right response. Setting the Attack for a slower recovery by turning it clockwise preserves more of the initial pick attack, and by using the Blend control to keep a good amount of dry signal in the mix, the feel was very natural while keeping the dynamics of the guitar under control for smoother rhythm parts. Increasing Sustain and using a wetter mix and faster recovery gave notes a juicy, blossoming quality that worked great for fingerpicking and slide parts when backing a singer-songwriter on a low volume gig. At higher compression settings the Volume control ensured that the level wouldn’t be squashed when the effect was kicked on. Throughout its range the Corset was very quiet in operation, and it also has true-bypass switching.

Kudos Wide range of compression. Well implemented controls.
Concerns None.
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