Transparency equals flexibility in a sweet-sounding and dynamic drive unit.
The DOD brand returned under the DigiTech umbrella in 2013 with reboots of some of its most revered effects. Since then, they’ve broadened their horizons, reviving ’90s obscurities like the Meatbox Subsynth and Gonkulator Ringmod, and building all-new units like the Looking Glass Overdrive.
The Looking Glass is the product of a collaborative effort with Shoe Pedals designer Christopher Venter. The result is a flexible, responsive boost and overdrive with lots of transparency and headroom. It’s a great match for players that prize low-key-yet-potent drive tones, but don’t want to obscure what’s good about their guitars and amps. It’s also the kind of pedal that can make lackluster rigs sound much more substantial, alive, and colorful.
Down the Rabbit Hole
Looking Glass is a Class A, FET-based circuit. The pedal features the usual volume and gain controls, and a toggle switch that enables selection of two voices. In the toggle-down setting, the pedal functions much like a clean boost. The up setting provides more gain. An input filter knob helps tame bright guitars or introduces woolier textures ahead of the gain stage. But the bulk of the considerable EQ-shaping power comes via the clever concentric bass cut and treble knobs. Like the input filter, the bass cut function subtracts bass content in the signal before it hits the pedal’s gain stage, which keeps the summed signal, and the low-end output in particular, tight, focused and airy. The treble knob adds top-end presence as you need it. There are also two internal dipswitches, which raise the Looking Glass’ input impedance slightly so it will work better with buffered pedals or particularly bright signals. Considering the pedal’s small footprint, it’s extremely feature-rich and functional.
Looking Glass is very adaptable, and it was easy to dial in cool sounds no matter what guitar and amp I threw in the mix. The pedal has an almost uncanny knack for magnifying and accentuating the best qualities of rigs. It’s also extremely sensitive to adjustments in pick attack.
In clean boost and low gain modes, Looking Glass adds a pleasant bit of compression, sparkle, and presence that’s magical for pared-down rigs. When I used it to goose a stock Fender Pro Junior, paired with a P-90-loaded Telecaster, Looking Glass added a three-dimensional, shimmering quality to the tone. With the Pro Junior set for mild breakup, the Looking Glass coaxed it into thick, crunchy overdrive—adding a cool layer of harmonic activity with touch-sensitivity and dynamics. With a dirty, cranked Marshall JCM800-style amp and a Les Paul, Looking Glass added a touch of compression that had little adverse affect on the pedal’s intrinsic dynamics. The very effective treble section of the EQ also made it easy to dial in an extra-searing lead tone that sailed above the mix without getting shrill.
With higher gain, the Looking Glass’ transparency maintained very amp-like feel. I never felt disconnected from my guitar or amp, or out of control. This is the kind of amp-transforming power that touring players love when confronted with bland backline gear or the need to move between low-power, low-gain rigs and higher-gain setups night-by-night.
In designing the Looking Glass, DOD and Christopher Venter prioritized transparency and tones outside the TS and Klon sphere of influence. The focus on the former, in particular, makes Looking Glass agreeable, adaptable, and easy to tweak from rig to rig. In short, it’s a backline players’ dream OD. Better still, it delivers all this versatility at a cost that’s a fraction of many boost/overdrives with comparable range.