G&L Buckshot Pedal Review

A natural overdrive that goes from smooth to sizzling, all while retaining the character of both amp and guitar.

When it comes to overdrive, there’s a fine line between dirty and too dirty. More often than not, you want an overdrive to retain some aspect of your guitar’s voice. So it’s little wonder that a company like G&L, which has made so many well balanced and versatile guitars over its history, hit the mark in creating a natural overdrive that goes from smooth to sizzling, all while retaining the character of both amp and guitar.

Back to Basics
Things don’t get much more straightforward than the Buckshot. The sturdy metal body—which is painted in a brown that might well be a nod to Leo Fender’s early ’60s amplifiers—has three knobs for Volume, Tone, and Drive. The bottom of the pedal has to be removed to change batteries, so you’ll need a screwdriver or enough forethought to toss in a fresh 9V cell before heading off to a gig. But the pedal comes with an AC adapter, which acknowledges that most players will probably run the Buckshot from their pedalboard anyway. Construction quality is excellent, and the controls and jacks are all handwired with care.

Clean and Roomy
Out in front of a 100-watt Marshall and with a Duncan Distortion-equipped Dean V 79 or Schecter C-1 Elite on the driving end, the Buckshot provides an almost clean boost with just a hint of grit at the lower Drive settings. Turning up the Drive knob adds heat to the notes very quickly, but without any booming volume changes. Increasing the drive also tightens up the sound with a sort of natural compression that sacrifices little in terms of clarity.

Even with the Buckshot’s Drive control pushed to the max, note-to-note clarity remained excellent, and chords that would otherwise be buried in overdriven mud were rich and distinct. That said, experimenting with various drive and tone values enabled me to go from smooth to quite crunchy—like moving from Skynrd to Deep Purple to Nugent to Green Day—with a few twists and a change in attack. Given that the pedal is an overdrive, it’s no surprise that there’s not enough edge for metal, but in front of a raging amp it would do wonders there, too. I also found that keeping the Tone control around the midpoint or higher is essential to retaining the high-end that makes this pedal shine—going much lower comes at the expense of clarity.

Responsiveness to picking nuance is excellent—you get back what you put in, and there’s a lot of room for a dynamic approach. Decreasing the Volume doesn’t cost you much in terms of tone either, which makes it easy to dial in a sweet, slightly overdriven tone at lower club levels.

The Verdict
The G&L Buckshot provides a great, natural overdrive that’s diverse enough to handle country to blues to hard rock, while letting amps’ and pickups’ natural voices shine through. If you have a guitar and amplifier setup you love, but that occasionally needs a touch more horsepower, the Buckshot is an overdrive that won’t get in the way.
Buy if...
you want natural, clear overdrive that will add some serious heat to your sound without masking your guitar’s voice.
Skip if...
you’re looking for an edgier, heavily distorted overdrive.

Street $149 - G&L Guitars - glguitars.com

<<< Previous Review: Empress Effects Compressor
Next Review: Black Cat Bee Buzz >>>

The author’s Collings D2H rests on his favorite Fender amp combination for acoustic guitar: a Bandmaster Reverb atop a 1x12 extension cab with an Eminence Maverick inside. The amp has a custom-made baffle board with two 8" speakers, so can go it alone for smaller gigs.

Interested in plugging a flattop into your favorite silver- or black-panel beauty? Here’s what you need to know.

Have you ever tried to plug your acoustic guitar into a classic-style Fender amp? There are some hurdles to overcome, and this month I’ll provide some advice on how to get past them. But first, some background.

Read More Show less

A lightweight, portable amp series developed after months of forensic examination of vintage valve amps.

Read More Show less

Need an affordable distortion pedal? Look no further.

We live in the golden age of boutique pedals that are loaded with advanced features—many of which were nearly unthinkable a decade or so ago. But there’s something that will always be valuable about a rock-solid dirt box that won’t break your wallet. Here’s a collection of old classics and newly designed stomps that cost less than an average concert ticket.

Read More Show less