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Review: SolidGoldFX Zeta Drive

Introduction:

The Zeta Drive, a natural evolution of the original Super Drive from SoidGoldFx. If the Super Drive is a high end sports car, the Zeta Drive is a fine tuned super car. Fine tuned and optimized for ease-of-use and quick dialing in. Designed to color the sound with it's unique voice and with a wide gain range for a multitude of uses. With a Jfet preamp for amp-like sag without resulting in low headroom.

While appearance may not matter in relating to the sound of a device, and the sound is the important part. First impressions, it's hard not to take notice of the Zeta's pleasing visual design. With all the pedals we have to choose from at Rogue Guitar shop, this is one of them that immediately catches your eye. The size of the unit is similar to a standard MXR pedal, so it'll easily fit on your board. The big question is, does the Zeta Drive sound as good as it looks? I'll get to that later, after all it's the most important part of the review.

Controls and features:

The control layout is pretty standard in the world of drive pedals. Consisting of Volume, Tone, and Gain. They do what one would expect, additionally the Zeta Drive has a lot of volume on tap. The Tone control has a wide sweep and seems to be dialed in to preserve the upper midrange frequencies, but not to an extreme level. There may be a cut in the low-mids, which is good to remove mud and wooliness. The Gain control goes from nearly clean low gain OD to medium-high gain.

Sounds/Applications:

With such a focus on the upper mids, you'd probably expect to have another Tube Screamer here. However, as stated above, the mids are not boosted to an absurd level. The low end doesn't seem cut either, so this would as well place it in a different tonal range from the TS. SolidGold FX has a mantra, “Clarity. Response. Tone” with this and the other SolidGold Fx pedals I've used, I'd say they're absolutely living up to this.

Opinions:

Upon first plugging it into the amp, I turned the Volume all the way up, the tone a little before noon and the gain almost all the way down. Set like this the tone of your guitar and amplifier are hardly effected. Makes for excellent clean-boost possibilities, indeed. This isn't why you buy an overdrive though, or at least not why I would buy an overdrive unit. There are plenty of clean boost units out there that will do the job for less money This however is a nice option to have, if the OD can deliver on actually adding drive. After the clean-boost test, I turned promptly turned the gain to 10:00. SolidGold FX describes the lower gain sounds this produces as “greasy”. I'd say that's an appropriate description. The low gain OD tones while slightly boosting my amp, were very greasy and juicy too. It all sounds like hyperbole, but you'll know exactly what SGFX means when you plug in to it.

The Gain around 12:00 provides lower-medium gain tones, with a very harmonically rich sound. This is a great place for the blues, especially with excellent guitar volume control cleanup. The slight boosting of the amp makes the pedal's dirt blend right in and sounds like part of your amp. The Tone control and EQ on your amp can be utilized to fine-tune the sound. It's very satisfying to get these sort of sounds and not have to worry about waking the neighbors. Knocking the gain to around 3:00 offers very different results, yet consistent tonality. Here you start approaching solid medium gain territory. Still absolutely blending in with your amp's response while providing a mild upper-midrange boost to cut through. Now to discuss my favorite setting, the gain all the way up! I find many overdrive units get a little too compressed and harsh for my tastes with the gain high. Not the Zeta Drive, the lovely picking dynamics and subtleties of your playing are still preserved. This is great considering this unit has more gain than I expected. With this setting I'm able to dial in a just breaking up sound on my amp , combined with the gain of the pedal I have a very versatile gain range. All available with just the guitar volume control. I'm not really going to get into describing the tone control, because I feel it's a very rig-dependent Tone control. Can be used very effectively to dial in the pedal for your rig.

Final Verdict:

Truly one of the most usable overdrives that I've used. At Rogue Guitar Shop we have many fancy overdrive units. The Zeta is pretty exciting, and does what it does well and at an excellent price. Sometimes that's all you need from a pedal.

Rating: 8/10

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