Next, I plugged a soapbar-equipped Paul Reed Smith Starla X into a PRS 30 amp and dialed in a clean sound. By adjusting the TightDrive to deliver medium-gain tones, I was able to get a rich, classic-rock timbre that was just barely breaking up. When I dialed in a basic foundation of moderate distortion on the amp, I stomped on the TightDrive to give my power chords more definition. The PRS 30 has a classic EL34 tube sound, and tonally it lies more on the warm, dark side. With that amp, I found that, in addition to increasing the gain, the TightDrive again added brightness to my sound. Switching to my Strat, I discovered the pedal can easily raise the output of single-coils to humbucker levels.

Moving over to my Marshall half stack, I grabbed my Les Paul to test out the TightDrive with a heavier rock tone. I was able to get everything from grungy overdrive to aggressive, high-gain metal tones. My Marshall amp sounds pretty darn good on its own and I’m happy with its overdrive sounds, so in this configuration, I used the TightDrive more as a boost for playing leads. For this application, I turned up the pedal’s Volume knob instead of Gain.

As I explored different combinations of guitars and amps, I found I needed to adjust the amp settings, as well as the pedal’s parameters to really dial in the tone to my liking. The TightDrive is not a one-size-fits-all effect where a single setting works with different amps.

Turning the Tight knob to its lowest setting creates a thicker tone that, in some instances, can get a little muddy. Cranking the Tight knob all the way up delivers a sharper attack, but the tone thins out too much for my taste. It’s just a matter of finding that sweet spot somewhere in between the two extremes. I rarely turned the Tone knob past the halfway mark, because the TightDrive adds quite a bit of brightness and high-end boost. In fact, I often turned Tone down all the way for a smoother sound.

The Final Mojo
You can get quite a variety of distortion sounds with the Amptweaker TightDrive, whether you use it for a slight boost or a heavier, more aggressive distortion. It also has useful design features that enhance your playing experience. For example, if you’re adding the TightDrive’s distortion on top of an amp’s overdrive, you can take advantage of the pedal’s effects loop to add a noise gate to your signal path and control both pedals with the TightDrive’s footswitch. Considering these unique, customer-requested features and the TightDrive’s versatility, it’s definitely a pedal worth checking out.
Buy if...
you dig the unique, playerfriendly features and the ability to tighten up your distortion’s attack.
Skip if...
you prefer that your distortion has warmer overtones

Street $180 - Amptweaker -