Jetter Gain Stage Red

Sporting Volume, Gain, and Tone controls, as well as a snicker-inducing Hard/Soft switch and a fairly bright, but extremely tiny LED, the Jetter Gain Stage Red ($229 direct) is a handwired overdrive pedal made in “Hotlanta,” Georgia. The Gain Stage Red gave a very convincing cranked-amp grind to our clean Super Reverb. The mids are strong and singing with a lovely vocal quality, and all of the amp’s round, blooming bass response stays intact rather than getting squashed. What impressed me the most, however, was the Gain Stage Red’s ability to supply a bright, keening top-end without being harsh or spiky. Even with a Telecaster, the Jetter delivered musical, transparent treble slice, while still sounding ballsy and rich.

The Hard/Soft switch is subtle, but useful. It ups the gain and presence response in the Hard setting, while Soft gently tames the upper reaches of the high end and ever so slightly rolls back the pedal’s overall gain structure. If you’re looking for beaucoup output to slam the front end of your amp, the Gain Stage Red doesn’t really do that. It has a healthy amount of output, but low Gain/high Volume settings don’t yield any booster- type effects. In fact, my fave tones were everything all the way up and the switch set to Hard. This allowed me to take advantage of the Stage’s excellent dynamic response by riding my guitar’s volume knob to vary the amount of distortion. And since the pedal’s treble is so musical, you can conjure some super-sweet clean-ish tones with just a touch of hair. Pretty impressive.

Kudos: Extremely musical grind with a gorgeous treble response and throaty mids.

Concerns: Could use more output.