While Providence has produced a wide variety of well-built effects over the years, overdrives are the company’s strength. And the new Red Rock OD ROD-1—an overdrive specifically designed for single-coil guitars—is yet another brick in that foundation. With its fat switch and midrange-oriented tone control, it provides flexibility and horsepower for single-coils where other overdrives can be thin or rigid.
Little Red Rager
Like all Providence boxes, the Japanese-built Red Rock is built to communicate a kind of hefty, road-ready feel. To that end, the footswitch is protected by a steel guard that looks a little like a bottle opener (though I didn’t test it’s effectiveness as such), and in general the pedal feels designed and built with a very high quality standard in mind.
For the most part, the Red Rock adheres to standard overdrive design formula. There’s master, gain, and tone knobs that adjust output level, gain level, and midrange content, respectively. However, it’s the two remaining controls that are key to the Red Rock’s extra flexibility: The fat switch boosts low end, while volume adjusts the input level in the pre-gain stage to compensate for lower-output pickups.
The fat switch is one of the most valuable features on the Red Rock. My Fender Jaguar can sound thin on the bottom end, but the fat switch gave it considerably more low-end presence without obscuring its natural voice. There’s more to the Red Rock than extra bottom end, though: Nudging tone up to 2 o’clock adds considerable high-midrange focus, giving simple power chords a heavy but cutting presence in two-guitar or bass-heavy ensembles. Keeping the tone above noon is vital to maintaining that presence as long as the fat switch is engaged, but much more subdued tone levels still cut impressively through bass and low-mid heaviness. The gain control’s sweep is considerable. As long as you dial in the appropriate amount of tone in relation to gain, note and string-to-string definition remains excellent. Using a silverface Bassman and a Telecaster, it was easy to cop early Zep lead tones with the gain south of noon.
The ROD-1’s focus and clarity assure that it works well with other effects, too. Fuzzes in particular benefit from having the Red Rock’s midrange boost out front. My vintage RAT has a very narrow sweet spot, but the sweet spot became much bigger with the Red Rock zapping the RAT’s input.
While Providence’s latest overdrive is designed with single-coil pickups in mind, it works great with humbuckers, too. For obvious reasons, the fat switch is less effective with humbuckers, and chords have less definition at higher gain settings. That said, lead tones can still sound searing and huge with humbuckers out front if you make the right adjustments to the tone knob, and if you switch between humbuckers and single coils during a set, a few quick adjustments will keep your signal loud and clear.
On its own, the Red Rock OD ROD-1 delivers amp-like drive that’s a perfect match for clean tube amps. The price tag is a bit steep, and there are certainly quite a few ODs on the market that sound great for less. On the other hand, the Red Rock delivers clarity and definition in a thoughtful design that will be a real asset for the single-coil guitarist seeking extra oomph without sacrificing vintage vibe.
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