Dytone Ooh-Drive II

The German-manufactured Dytone Ooh-Drive II ($299 retail/ $230 street) is a simple and rather elegant distortion box. Sporting three controls—Distortion, Tone, and Balance (output)—the Ooh-Drive II sounds best when running into an amplifier on the verge of breaking up.

As you turn up the Distortion knob, you don’t really notice much hair on the notes until 12 o’clock. Once there, the tactile sensation from your fingers to the amp just lights up, making a Deluxe Reverb come alive, yielding a neighbor-friendly, cranked-amp feel at very low volume settings. I can’t speak highly enough about the Ooh-Drive II’s touch sensitivity, which allows you to get a clean or dirty sound by simply adjusting your picking attack. For better or worse, the Ooh-Drive is voiced über Bright. For example, with my Tele and a Deluxe, I had to turn the Tone control all the way off. But with a Tele and a Marshall, the Ooh-Drive sounded like I walked over and simply turned the amp up all the way. In this scenario, the biting treble was welcome and sweet as sugar.

For the most part, the Ooh-Drive II is a medium-gain affair, specializing in complex, sit-tight-in-a-track midrange bite that snarls more the harder you play. With the Distortion cranked full up, however, things get a little nutty as the pedal howls with so much distortion that notes will ring for days before melting into feedback.