With the ability to dial in transparent boost or use the active EQ to summon radically voiced overdrive, what’s not to love?
Active EQ yields wonderful array of tones, from powerful transparent boost to low- and medium-gain dirt.
Dedicated midrange control might enable faster, more precise dialing of tones.
Ease of Use:
For years now it’s seemed a day can’t pass without at least five companies debuting a supposedly transparent overdrive. Plenty of them are good, but most have very linear (and passive) tone, gain, and level controls that offer limited palettes—which is fine, if that’s all you need. What’s tantalizing about EarthQuaker Devices’ Westwood is that it ignores the notion that radical and invisible must be mutually exclusive.
Not only does Westwood bust the usual one-tone-knob approach into two frequency bands, but its active treble and bass controls also offer up to 20 dB of boost or cut from their flat, handily detented center points.
That means the controls are highly interactive with each other. For example, middling level and gain settings are much tamer with treble and bass at noon than they are with higher EQ settings.
This makes Westwood a wonder for myriad applications where you don’t need mondo saturation—though it’s got more than enough for aggressive rock—or for instantaneously giving your axe a highly contrasted personality, from skanky thin and toothy to grodily girthy, but its powerful EQ also makes it killer for, say, making a lower-output guitar viable in a rig tailored to higher-gain pickups.
Test gear: Schecter Ultra III with TV Jones Magna’Tron bridge pickup, Squier Vintage Modified Tele with Curtis Novak Tel-V and JM-V pickups, Fender ’76 Vibro Champ, Jaguar HC50, Goodsell Valpreaux 21, MXR Reverb.