Here’s an overdrive with two independent stages and highs to spare.
What do you get when you run two gain effects back to back? The results can vary from transcendent saturation to unappetizing glop. Some of us have favorite dual-gain tone recipes. (For example, GN’R guitarist Richard Fortus recently confided one favorite pairing: a clean booster driving a MkII Tone Bender.) Meanwhile, some pedal builders offer dual-gain drives, sometimes by tacking a switchable boost stage to an extant drive circuit, and sometimes by stuffing two discrete and independently adjustable circuits into a single box.
The G777 from Greenchild takes the latter route, combining two isolated gain effects in a featherweight anodized aluminum enclosure. Channel 1 is a dual-transistor overdrive with an ingenious two-stage EQ section. Channel 2 is a combination drive/boost with an independent tone stack. The result is four “virtual channels,” labeled clean/bypass, drive 1, drive 2, and both drives combined. (My first demo clip presents the basic idea: You hear the same riff clean, with channel 1 engaged, through channel 2, and finally with both channels activated.) G777 also houses two buffer circuits—one at the input and another at the output.
A Bright Idea?
The company motto of New Mexico-based Greenchild is “never compromise your tone.” And sure enough, the boost stages preserve the full frequency range of your clean signal more faithfully than most overdrives—which may or may not be a good thing, depending on your gear, playing style, and tastes.
Many players want and expect their overdrives to amputate highs because distorted treble frequencies can get nasty. Whether due to the buffer stages or the circuit voicings, high frequencies ring loud and clear here. That’s true for each channel independently, and for both combined. You don’t get the corpulent lows and rounded-off treble you often encounter from back-to-back boost circuits. The frequency mix remains relatively true to your clean sound—just more distorted and compressed.
And that puts us in ultra-subjective tone territory. The overdriven highs lend a 1980s/’90s aural exciter-type character. (What exciters do, after all, is emphasize harmonic distortion at higher frequencies.) With my preferred lowish-output pickups and retro-style combo amps, the results were consistently too bright for my taste. Yet it’s easy to imagine some players digging G777’s full-frequency shimmer. I suspect that’s especially true for guitarists with dark-sounding guitars and amps, or for players whose high-output pickups produce undesirably wooly/woofy tones.
When writing gear reviews, I usually check out manufacturer demos and random YouTube clips to verify my impressions and hear how the product responds to different gear and playing styles. In this case, I listened to every clip I could find, and each one confirmed my impressions. I encourage you to do the same. I also urge you to interpret my tone rating as a neutral value on a sliding scale. Add a point or two if you dig G777’s treble-forward tones, and subtract one if you don’t.
Despite its mosquito weight, the G777 is solidly constructed. The internal layout is clean and elegant. Ribbon connector links the soft-touch relay footswitches to a main circuit board populated with through-hole components (including the medium-gain, BC-series silicon transistors that generate the grit). The jacks attach to the enclosure, not the boards. It’s a fine bit of stompbox engineering. The pedal also accepts 9V–18V power and requires 500 mA from either your pedalboard brick or the included 30V (+/-15V) power supply, which yields a wider dynamic range and less compression.
All gear reviews are subjective, and this one more than most. This is a case where you should audition before buying, or at least listen to as many online demos as possible. There’s no doubt about G777’s quality build and design. It’s simply a matter of whether its uncommonly treble-rich gain suits your personal sound world.