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Review: PettyJohn Electronics Predrive

Introduction:

At Rogue Guitar Shop, we have so many makes and types of pedals that we sell, I personally thought I was in on about everything that was out there. So when I had a pedal from PettyJohn Electronics put in front of me, I was surprised to see something I hadn't heard of before. At least in pedal form, I've only seen one or two more things like it.

Per PettyJohn Electronics, they were conceived with the thought of bringing people together to create music. Their goals consist of four keys: Culture, Innovation, Growth and Mission. It appears they intend to bring you unique devices that are easy to use, but very versatile. Studio quality stuff, built like a tank, at your feet. I mean seriously, you could stub your toe on this thing!

What we have here is a studio quality preamp, eq, and boost all in one box. It was designed to use in front of your amplifier for studio quality tones anywhere. The feature set includes three outputs, one meant for the amp, a tuner out, and a direct out. The uses for the first two are obvious, but the third is designed for a TRS connection straight to a recording interface or mixing board. Before I even get to the other features, this alone gives you tons of options for relaying your sound and vision.

 

 

Controls and features:

We have Output Volume, which is the overall volume of your signal after passing through the pedal. Input Volume, which controls how hard you slam the input of the pedal. Allowing for more possible gritty tones. A Drive Mix knob, which is essentially a clean/drive blend allowing one to provide more clarity to their sound. The EQ is simple in providing seperate Low Cut and High Cut controls. Don't let the simplicity fool you though, you can use these to affect the midrange frequencies as well. By cutting one while boosting the other. There are two toggle switches, one for Vari-Z and one for Harmonic Drive. Harmonic Drive allows you to add a bit of drive to the signal, further increasing the usefulness of the Drive Mix control. Vari-Z is a very subtle tone shaping tool, it adjusts the input impedance of the preamp. In the up position the impedance is the same as a standard amplifier, the down position lowers it by half mimicking that of a classic overdrive unit. There is an independent footswitch for the boost, which is very useful in a live situation for lead boost. Last but not least, the giant knob in the middle of the pedal! This controls the amount of boost provided, in my humble opinion it's so big for foot turning possibilities.

Opinions:

First thoughts when seeing the Predrive may be, “just another overdrive pedal”, but one couldn't be further from the truth. We have tons of great ODs at Rogue Guitar Shop, but this is one of the few pedals that transcends that label and stands in a class of it's own. The unit runs at 18V via your own adapter, I believe this provides extended headroom. I plug it in and fire it up with the Vari-Z in the up position, Harmonic Drive toggle set off, and all the knobs at noon. The boost is off to begin with, but I already notice a slight volume push into my amp. In this setting it's a rather clean Preamp to be used as more of a tone-shaping tool instead of a drive. I found it fun to run it in front of a solid state amp in this setting. Produces a very tube-like sound and makes the solid state take other pedals (fuzz, etc.) like a champ. Running it into a tube amp, I preferred it with the Harmonic Drive toggled on. Produces a very nice low gain OD that melds sweetly with the lightly breaking up tubes. I really like how the Drive Mix control adds a bit of clean into the signal. Other pedal builders take note, a drive mix is excellent on any sort of grit unit! Flicking the Vari-Z toggle to the down position knocks this thing into sort of a normalish OD type vibe. I prefer the up position, but the Vari-Z down position could easily replace your favorite OD. Kicking in the boost produces a noticeable gain and volume increase, even with the big boost knob half way up. I really enjoyed slamming the front end of my amp with the boost! Sweet lively tones in spades here folks. Combine that with the powerful High and Low Cut eq and you have more sounds than you can possibly imagine. In the end I ran it direct into my lap top via a recording interface. Makes a lovely platform for pedals to run right into the DAW for recording purposes. My amp actually has an XLR output, so this feature isn't of much use to me. But for many it could be exactly what they're looking for. Essentially folks you're getting about 3 or 4 things in one here.

Final Verdict:

9/10

The saying goes, “jack of all trades, master of none” and usually that holds true. Not so with the Predrive, it's the master of all it's uses. Needless to say I really enjoyed my time with this thing and I strongly recommend checking it out if you like what you've read. 

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