First Impressions: Visual Sound Open Road

The Open Road overdrive ($178 retail/$119 street) is a no-frills grind-giver that sports Volume, Drive, and Tone controls, as well as a bright yellow paint job. 
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With plenty of glorious output on tap, the Open Road has enough oomph to be a clean boost—always a good sign in any distortion pedal—but thanks to a Drive function that ranges from delicate, mildly overdriven chirps to searing rock textures, the Open Road has tons of tones on tap. Using a Fender Telecaster and a Princeton Reverb reissue, I dialed up squawky, barely-clipping lead tones that cut with the right amount of healthy treble slice and midrange sweetness. The Open Road doesn’t add a lot of low-end, but it doesn’t take it away either. Cranking up the Drive control brings on more high-octane saturation, but not at the expense of note clarity or dynamics. Plus, I could still clean up the tones by backing off my guitar’s Volume control. The wonderfully voiced Tone control musically seasoned every guitar/amp combination I threw at it, whether I wanted a smaller, more razor-like sound with my Gibson SG and 50-watt Marshall setup, or a burly, buttery fat Telecaster tone through a Fender Super Reverb (Visual Sound says that the Tone control is voiced to be more "open" sounding, and that it also adds a bit of drive when turned up.) For blues/rock dudes looking for an overdrive that can go from a subtle, chirping crunch to a fire-breathing scream machine, the Open Road is worth exploring. —Darrin Fox
For more information contact Visual Sound (931) 487-9001;