Jim Dunlop’s Custom Shop has been cranking out pedals like a renegade band of North Pole elves hoovering chocolate covered espresso beans by the bucket. With the Il Torino overdrive, though, they’ve enlisted help from the old world—calling upon Italian amp and stompbox builder Carlo Sorasio to collaborate on this very flexible, powerful boost/OD.
Like many MXR’s Custom Shop pedals, the Il Torino takes the path less trod to its end goal. In this case it’s the use of the less common (but increasingly en vogue) LED clipping diodes that once turned up in the original Marshall Guv’nor and JCM800 amplifier. LED clipping tends to make an overdrive pretty loud and provides a little extra headroom. That’s certainly the case with the Il Torino. And the pedal’s capacity for hot, high-resolution sounds makes it excellent for scorching single-note riffing and jangly arpeggios alike. The potent, wide-ranging 3-band EQ section helps make the pedal extra versatile, allowing you to dial up additional presence and top-end detail. Not surprisingly, you get a lot of Marshall-like overdrive flavors from both the boost and overdrive channels. And though you can dial in softer, more contoured OD sounds with ease, folks who prefer the honking, compressed overdrive of, say, a Tube Screamer and blackface combo might prefer to look elsewhere. That issue aside, the Il Torino is an uncommonly flexible boost/overdrive at a very appealing price.
Test Gear: Fender Telecaster Custom, Fender E Series Stratocaster, Marshall 1958X, blackface Fender Tremolux