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After receiving hundreds of product ideas online, Brown discovered that the overwhelming majority of guitarists were requesting overdrive/boost/distortion pedals with uncommon features. Brown incorporated a number of these into his first Amptweaker product—the TightDrive stompbox.
Lean, Green Machine
Handmade in the US and housed in a robust, 14-gauge steel chassis, the TightDrive looks sharp and feels solid. The pedal’s top is conveniently angled, allowing you to stomp on the forward-facing footswitch without hitting the control knobs. The latter slope toward the rear, so they’re visible yet out of the way.
The TightDrive boasts several unique features. For example, the battery is housed in a sliding drawer that’s secured with a magnetic latch. Cool—changing the 9-volt cell requires no tools. Also, a battery switch lets you turn off the juice when you’re not using the pedal, so there’s no need to unplug the input cable. LEDs illuminate the knobs (when you’re using a power adapter), so it’s easier to make sonic adjustments on a dark stage.
|Download Example 1
|Download Example 2
|Download Example 3
|Download Example 4
|Download Example 5
The TightDrive has four knobs: Volume, Tone, Gain, and Tight. The latter is a direct result of players telling Brown they wanted a way to tighten up the distortion to keep the low end from getting buzzy or floppy. Using the Tight control, you can adjust how smooth or aggressive the low end feels and sounds. We’ll see how this works in a moment.
Taking a Spin
You can use the TightDrive to coax crunch sounds from a clean channel or amp, or push a lead amp further into overdrive. Testing the TightDrive using a variety of guitars and amps, I found its response and sound differs from amp to amp.
For example, I routed a Charvel So-Cal with DiMarzio pickups through the TightDrive and into an Egnater Tourmaster 4212, and it added nice crunchy distortion to the clean channel and gave chords more attack when I played through the overdrive channel. It added highend sizzle even when I dialed the pedal’s Tone knob all the way back. To compensate, I had to substantially increase the bass on the amp.