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Lehle Sunday Driver, D. Loop, SGoS and 3at1 SGoS Review

Lehle (pronounced Lee-La) based out of Germany, manufactures switchers based on the needs not just of rock stars, but the everyday musician. Sleek design, solid powder-coated steel enclosures, large, cool LEDs and innovative new switching technology give these pedals instant allure. Not only will they not interfere with your tone; they may actually improve it. Founder Burkhard Georg Lehle has built his switchers from the ground up, filling a much needed gap in the music equipment industry. [For more about Lehle’s designs and company history, see our Builder Profile “Switch Hitter” in PG’s August, 2008 issue.] While the runaway hit of Lehle’s SGoS line of switchers is the Dual, I wanted to take a look at the D.Loop and the 3at1 first, to see what they brought to the lineup. But before we get to them, let’s look at Lehle’s new Sunday Driver.

Sunday Driver
The Lehle Sunday Driver is a compact, no-frills preamp providing two modes of operation; you can use it as a buffer or booster. The Driver mode amplifies the signal path from your guitar to your amp, mixer or computer. This is to strengthen a weak signal caused by routing your guitar through pedals, and it offers true tone and clarity. The second mode, or the Sunday mode, multiplies the input impedance by four, and is designed to bring out subtle tones and warmth that were previously unheard. Running the Sunday Driver between my guitar and amp using gold Monster cables, I was surprised by how well defined my tone was—my signal was stronger and clearer. At first, I couldn’t believe my ears, so I plugged my guitar directly into the amp. To my surprise, the notes just sounded dead by comparison with the unmodified signal boost provided by the Sunday Driver. Plugging it back in, I could hear that my ears weren’t deceiving me; my overall tone was better.

Switching to the second, or Sunday, mode my signal was not only louder, but even more defined, providing more sustain from each note played. The guitar signal remained clear throughout the process, and no distortion was ever present, even when turning the +15dB buffer all the way clockwise. I tried this out on two guitars with different pickup arrangements— one guitar with a Rio Grande Dirty Harry single-coil (bridge position) pickup and a Fender Jumbo humbucker (neck), the second with two Seymour Duncan humbuckers (bridge and neck). The results were the same, no matter what combination of pickups; both guitars sounded better than they had without the help of the Sunday Driver.

My only qualm with this preamp is that I wish it were in pedal form. The switch is between the 1/4” jacks at the back of the unit, which doesn’t allow the user to switch between the two modes by foot. Maybe an auxiliary pedal input could be provided as a feature for guitarists who may want this option. I presume Lehle designed this preamp with the idea that you would find your setting and just leave it, and maybe that’s why there isn’t a bypass mode. No problem here, because after hearing what the Sunday Driver can do, there would be no reason to turn it off.
Buy if...
you're looking to boost your guitar signal through a pedal chain, or just looking for a great preamp.
Skip if...
you need a preamp that can be controlled via footswitch.
Rating...
4.5 

Street $190 - Lehle Gitarrentechnik - lehle.com

D.Loop SGoS
The D.Loop is part of Lehle’s SgoS, or Second Generation of Switching, line. All SGoS pedals are fully MIDI compatible with each other. They can be easily synced with other Lehle SGoS pedals and still keep their own settings. The D.Loop provides an In/Out and two separate Send/Returns. Also provided is a buffer switch with volume, which provides a +12dB boost. You’re also provided with three separate, fully programmable switches, three bright LEDs for status indicators, and program switches. By default, the Buffer switch is for the buffer, Loop A switch for loop A, Loop B switch for loop B—which may make it look like less than the highly versatile pedal it is. But looks can be deceiving: each switch can be programmed to any combination of Loop, A, B or Buffer. Programming this pedal is as simple as pushing a button. I can even imagine changing the programming of the switches between songs, it’s that easy. And as compact as this thing is, it saves you from buying a larger rackmount switcher that you still need a MIDI controller for. If three switches is not enough, the D.Loop SGoS can be controlled with separate MIDI controller so you can program even more combinations, and it still retains its settings on its own.