SviSound OverZoid+ and Optical Phaser review

Svisound Overzoid Optical Phaser

Choosing the right overdrive for your amp can be tricky. The wrong pedal with the wrong amp can sound pretty shitty. However, if you do hit the spot, nothing sounds better. Bulgarian pedal makers, SviSound, recently released the OverZoid+, which promise to deliver anything from clean boost to fuzz. This review will also cover their Optical Phaser mini pedal.

I did a review of the OverZoid about a year ago. It was my first encounter with SviSound and I was very impressed. They’re pedals looks amazing! It’s a work of art – both the insides and the exterior design.

Both the OverZoid+ and the Optical Phaser are beautifully designed and, although design certainly isn’t crucial for the pedal’s tone, it sure is cool to have something like this on the board. It’s not all for show though. They’re extremely well built with high quality components.

OverZoid +

The OverZoid + is the new beefed up version of the OverZoid. While the standard edition feature three controls for gain, tone and volume, the OZ+ has a second gain stage for boost, switchable mostfet or germanium modes and a bass boost.

As the OverZoid, and most of the SviSound pedals, the OZ+ has a lot of mid range and compression. There’s plenty of headroom here, allowing a nice clean, and fairly transparent, boost but the overall tone and character is close to the 808/Klon family of pedals.

On a Marshall or Hiwatt, this might be a bit overwhelming but as we discussed in the “Knowing which Pedals to Choose for your Amp” feature, amps that doesn’t have that mid range and compression, needs pedals that can compensate for the lack of it and make the amp sound bigger and fuller, especially on lower volume levels and in a typical bedroom setup.

As mentioned, the OZ+ is capable of providing a nice clean boost. Single coils and brighter amps, sound warmer and more chunky. There’s a lot of volume on tap here so you can easily boost the front end of your tube amp as well, for a natural tube break up.

Switching between the mostfet and germanium stages reveals the versatility of the OZ+. The Mosfet is obviously more modern sounding, smoother and warmer. I prefer this for that clean boost and the milder overdrive tones. Increase the gain and you’re very close to a Tube Driver and OCD.

The germanium stage takes the OZ+ closer to the classic DOD 250 and MXR Distortion+, with a more 70s sounding character, rich dynamics and a crisp attack. For high gain tones, and the boost engaged, you can easily reach some really awesome fuzz tones, with some amazing sustain.

Like the standard OZ, the OZ+ also feature a switchable bass boost, which is handy for smaller amps and low output pickups or, if you just want more of that low end growl.

The OverZoid+ is highly recommended if you’re in for a versatile overdrive work station for your Fender amps and bedroom setups.

Optical Phaser Techno-FA

The Optical Phaser, from SviSound’s Techno range, is based on both the classic 4-stage Phase 90 and the 2-stage Phase 45.

In addition to the familiar speed control, or frequency as its called here, the pedal feature controls for range (controlling the width of the sweep), depth (amount of effect) and brightness (boosting the high end frequencies for more presence and clarity). There’s also switches for choosing either 4-stage or 2-stage phasing.

The 4-stage is very close to the classic Phase 90. You got that warm, chunky analog phasing that’s spot on David Gilmour’s Wish You Were Here tones and of course all the other greats that have used it.

I have always been a fan of the 2-stage Phase 45. It’s really one of the underrated pedals that should have gotten more praise and attention. The subtle phasing, almost Uni-Vibe-ish, adds a warm and subtle modulation to your tones, making overdrives in particular, more alive and dynamic.

The Optical Phaser does a great job replicating both phasers and with the additional controls, this is probably the most versatile phaser on the market.

See SviSound.com for more.

David Gilmour – the early years 1970-72

David Gilmour Early Years 1970-72

Pink Floyd recently celebrated their early years with a massive box set spanning from the band’s formation in 1965 up until the recording of Dark Side of the Moon in 1972. Crucial for this period, was the transition between Syd Barrett and David Gilmour and how Gilmour’s evolving tone, shaped the sound of the band’s early albums.

This is an updated version of the original feature posted in May 2008.

After Syd’s departure in early 1968 Pink Floyd struggled to free themselves from the psychedelia label. It was also a struggle to maintain some level of creativity without their former songwriter. While 1968-69 was a period of trying to find his place in the band, the years between 1970-72 saw David experimenting a lot more both with his tone and different styles.

Read the full feature here.

Please note that the comments are switched off for this post. Please feel free to comment in the comments field under the feature.

Custom Pedal Boards Mini Board and Pedals review

Custom Pedal Boards

Keeping a well thought out and tidy pedal board is crucial for getting the best performance from your rig. It doesn’t really matter how many pedals you got. The more care you put into it, the less trouble and better tones you get. UK based Custom Pedal Boards should be known for most of you and in this review, we’ll have a look at their new Mini Board and pedal range.

There really aren’t any rules when it comes to assembling a pedal board. A piece of wood does a good job and there are many affordable alternatives out there, in all shapes and sizes.

What Custom Pedal Boards offer, are boards and flight cases that are fully customised for your needs. I’ve been using their systems for some years now (so yes, I’m probably a bit biased) and although my boards are fairly basic, with a tier and flat surfaces, you can pretty much design anything you want, based on what pedals you have and how you want them arranged.

I’ve spent a great deal of time on the road and I have experienced the horror of seeing airport ground personell literally throwing my flight cases and pedal boards onto and off the flight. This was something Chris and the guys at CPB wanted to address and their boards and cases are capable of withstanding almost anything.

The Mini Board

Their newest design, is a neat mini board complete with a removable tier and flight case (the case bottom surface is the board). Any touring musician knows that travelling is ridiculously expensive, so size and weight is crucial for not going bankrupt.

The CPB Mini Board can carry up to five mini pedals like the CPB mini pedals or others, like Mooer, TC Electronic and similarly sized. The board I received and are reviewing, came with a CPB LS4 CPB True Bypass Loop Switcher, a CPB PB-2 mono patch box, power supply (located under the tier) and all of CPB’s five new mini pedals.

The loop switcher ensures a clean signal from each of the pedals but it can also be replaced by an additional 5 mini pedals, making the case fully capable of covering most of your tones and gig needs.

The Mini Pedals

As for now, Custom Pedal Boards offer five mini pedals. All are gain pedals, voiced for different applications and tones. Perhaps a bit limiting, as you probably want a few other pedals like a tuner or delay but the choice fits CPBs philosophy and product line. You get the boards and cases and the tools to go with them – loopers, patches and gain pedals for boosting and drive.

All five pedals are, in true CPB style, very well built. You really feel you can trust these… compared to some of the other mini pedals on the market. The fact that they’re slightly heavier, with straight angles, makes them sit better on the board as well, so you don’t have to worry about not stomping too hard and having them fall over.

I must say that I’ve been positively surprised. It would be easy to understand that boards are their main business and that the pedals are just something they offer on the side, but it’s obvious that a lot of thought has been put into these.

Mr Squeezy
This single knob compressor provides a transparent and musical compression, ideal for fattening up your single coils and adding sustain. No doubt based on the old Dan Armstrong compressor, Mr Squeezy perfectly fits David Gilmour’s late 70s tones.

It does provide a nice volume boost but the single knob might limit its use for some players. I would prefer separate controls for compression and volume, but the setup works really well and, as you can hear in the clip, it goes incredibly well with some mild crunchy tones.

Mini Driver
The Mini Driver provides convincing amp-like tones, from transparent cleans, with a nice volume boost available, to crispy crunch. Like a tube amp, the more gain you add, the more mid range and compression you get and at full blast, the Mini Driver enters Powerbooster and Tube Driver territory, although with less gain on tap.

The Mini Driver is my favourite of the CPB mini pedals. A great tool for both boosting and adding life to the amp. Especially smaller bedroom style amps, which often needs some of that mid range and compression compensation.

Mustard Drive
Based on the classic Distortion + and 250 Preamp, the Mustard drive has a lot of gain on tap, ranging from clean boost to crunchy overdrive and near fuzz. Some of most iconic rock riffs has been created with these tones.

Perhaps not the obvious choice for David Gilmour’s tones, but the Mustard (and those other yellow and grey pedals), can provide a very convincing overdrive close to the Tube Driver. You will need to combine the pedal with some amp break up to get there, or a second booster/overdrive, but the Mustard sounds really smooth and dynamic, with a very musical attack and compression.

The Mustard is slightly brighter sounding compared to the D+/250 and I miss some of that slightly unpredictable and dirty germanium mojo but again, a very versatile overdrive pedal capable of a wide range of tones.

Muff War
As the name implies, the Muff War is a Big Muff, based on those elusive early 90s Civil War Sovtek Big Muffs. It’s got that huge ballsy character, with lots of low end and silky smooth gain.

I’m not sure whether the Muff War is cloned after a specific pedal or just based on the tonal characters of the Civil War but CPB has done a great job in capturing that classic and much sought after tone.

Compared to some of the other clones out there, the Muff War is perhaps a tad brighter and it’s not as loud as some of them, but, in my very humble opinion, you won’t find a better sounding Big Muff mini pedal on the market today.

Big Up
The Big Up is a no frills, single knob 0-20dB volume boost. A handy tool for your pedal board, whether you want to boost your cleans or gain pedals, drive the front end of a tube amp or, for making sure your solos really kicks through.

I’ve had some great fun with this mini board and pedals. Everything is sold separately and, as mentioned above, you can use whatever mini pedals (or bigger pedals) you want. If you’re in the market for some mini pedals, I do recommend that you try some of these. The price is right and the tone even better!

Check out custompedalboards.co.uk for more details.

David Gilmour – the early years 1968-69

David Gilmour - Early Years 1968-69

Pink Floyd recently celebrated their early years with a massive box set spanning from the band’s formation in 1965 up until the recording of Dark Side of the Moon in 1972. Crucial for this period, was the transition between Syd Barrett and David Gilmour and how Gilmour’s evolving tone, shaped the sound of the band’s early albums.

Prior to joining Pink Floyd, David played in several local Cambridge bands. His gear was mainly based on a limited budget and borrowed stuff. While with Joker’s Wild (1964-66), he is seen using a Hofner Club with Bigsby tremolo and Vox amps.

David got his first Fender in March 1967. A mid 60’s white Telecaster with a rosewood neck that his parents gave him for his 21. birthday. David is seen using the guitar with Bullitt, – his last band prior to joining Floyd. Bullitt was to reunite on David’s first solo album in 1978.

Read the full feature here.

Please note that the comments are switched off for this post. Please feel free to comment in the comments field under the feature.

Robert Keeley Dark Side review

Robert Keeley Dark Side review

Wouldn’t it be cool to walk into a store and just buy David Gilmour’s tone in a box? Well, now you can! Robert Keeley’s Dark Side boldly promise to provide the full experience and magic of David’s classic mid 70s sound. Here’s my review.

How do you present a signature sound in one single box? How can you capture not only the actual tone but also the feel of owning and operating something close to the original vintage gear? We’re talking about perhaps the most recognisable tone in the history of modern music and guitar playing.

But you can always expect something special from Robert Keeley. The bar is high but few seems to really understand tone as much as him.

The Dark Side is the second in a new line of artist inspired pedals. As the name implies, the pedal is designed to capture the essence of David Gilmour’s tones from Dark Side of the Moon, as well as Wish You Where Here and Animals.

The Dark Side has two sections, fuzz and modulation/delay. They can be used simultaneously and the different modulation effects and the delay, is selected with a toggle switch. 

The rear features the usual in/out jacks, as well as TRS send/returns for additional pedals, expression pedal and for swapping the order of the fuzz and modulation/delay sections.

The Dark Side is packed with an almost exhaustive amount of controls and I won’t go into detail on every aspect of the pedal here but rather give you an idea of how it all sounds. Please visit robertkeeley.com for all the details.

Fuzz

The fuzz is analog and based on the late 70s Op-amp Big Muff. A strange choice perhaps, since David never used that particular model, but the circuit has been seriously modified and the tone is perhaps closer to the early 90s Sovtek Civil War, with a thick saturated gain and that slightly throaty character.

A 3-way switch allows you to choose between scooped, flat or full (boosted) EQ modes, similar to the mid range switch seen on many Big Muff clones.

It’s got that unmistakable Muff tone but there’s plenty of harmonics present, with a raw edge and I have no problem dialling in some really nice silicon fuzz tones typical of the era. 

Delay

David Gilmour famously used a Binson Echorec during the Dark Side years and the multi head echo has been a popular offering among many makers lately. 

The Dark Side delay offer 12 different delays based on that classic Binson machine. David mainly used a single head but sweeping through the different stages, provides the full Binson experience with an impressive accuracy and authenticity.

Clones offered by Catalinbread and Boonar has more controls, providing a more authentic circuitry, but with a hint of organic sounding modulation and the basic controls for time, feedback and volume, you can easily dial in some lovely and very musical echo with the Dark Side.

Modulation
The modulation section feature four different effects: flanger, phaser, rotary and Uni-Vibe. All of which are representative for Gilmour’s 70s tones.

Select either flanger and rotary or phaser and UniVibe and use the blend control to either get the pure effect or, and this is very cool, dial in some new unique tones, like a Leslie with sweeping jet-like flanging.

Flanger

The flanger is undoubtedly based on the Electric Mistress that David used during the late 70s and early 80s. It sounds a bit dark and chorusy compared to the original, but some fine tuning of the controls takes it close to the ’76 Mistress, with that liquidy and slightly metallic flanging.

Less mid range and low end and a slightly wider sweep would easily have made it one the best sounding clone of the original Mistress available.

Rotary
Rotating speaker simulators often sound more like a chorus or flanger than an actual Leslie cabinet. The doppler effect depends on the resonance and distance between the horn and the surroundings, so to recreate this with convincing authenticity is almost impossible.

The Dark Side Rotary is designed to sound more chorusy than your conventional rotary. I assume that’s with David’s Yamaha RA-200 cabinets in mind, which indeed has more of that watery chorus character rather than the woody tremolo of the Leslie.

It sounds really nice on slow speed and you can clearly hear the sweep of the horn and the low hum of the speaker. On high speeds, it’s definitely more chorusy but perhaps a bit too much and it sounds slightly detuned or closer to a vibrato.

It would be very interesting though to have a dedicated mix control for the rotary. It would allow you to blend in the rotary “behind” the main chain of effects or, as David did, in addition to his Hiwatts, for that subtle rotary effect.

Phaser
Again, based on the MXR Phase 90 that David used on the 1974-75 leg of the Dark Side tour and the recording of Wish You Where Here. Not much else to comment on other than it’s hard to get any closer to the orange box than this!

Uni-Vibe
The Uni-Vibe is undoubtedly more associated with Hendrix and Trower than Gilmour, but what would Breathe have sounded like without it? In fact, when touring with “Eclipse”, an early work in progress version of Dark Side of the Moon, in 1972, the Uni-Vibe was featured on almost all of the songs.

The Dark Side Uni-Vibe sounds surprisingly analog, with a beautifully tweaked character and feel. That crisp top end, with the dark throb is easy to dial in and it sounds equally focused and authentic on high speeds, which is needed for songs like Any Colour You Like.

So, to sum it up, I think the fuzz sounds really great. Easily among the finest Big Muff clones on the market and I like the fact that you got the 3-way mid range switch, allowing for a wide range of different tones from the era. Including fairly convincing Powerbooster-ish overdrive when the gain is backed down.

The delay, phaser and Uni-Vibe also sounds really impressive and with a bit of tweaking, the flanger also does the job. The rotary is OK but in my head, I will always compare rotary simulators with the Strymon Lex, which is perhaps not fair. As mentioned above, it would be interesting to have a dedicated mix control for this one.

My main issue with the Dark Side is the fact that you can’t have a modulation effect and the delay selected at the same time. They share the same circuit and can’t be used simultaneously.

You can add stand alone modulation pedals with the send/return jacks in the back but as much as I love the fact that you actually can do that, it kind of makes the Dark Side less of a Gilmour-in-a-box. Delay is essential to all of his tones and it would be cool to have everything integrated in one box.

But I must say that I’m surprised and I’ve had such great fun exploring this pedal. Overall, it sounds great and I would have had no problem using it as a part of my rig or in a recording setup. It’s a super cool pedal for jam sessions or a trip to the cabin, when you just want to bring your guitar, a small amp and little else.

The Dark Side is also an excellent start for the novice pedal collector and Gilmour fan. You got everything at your feet. It sounds great and you can expand, with more pedals and connected them to the Dark Side.

See robertkeeley.com for more details and reviews.