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.


EarthQuaker Devices Westwood


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.

Westwood is a wonder for myriad applications where you don’t need mondo saturation—though it’s got more than enough
for aggressive rock.

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.

A faithful recreation of the Germanium Mosrite Fuzzrite with a modern twist.

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Presets extend the flexibility of an already expansive and easy-to-use reverb.

Intuitive. Great range in all controls. Well-built.

Some digital artifacts at long decay times.


Walrus Audio Slötvå


Walrus Audio is a prolific builder, but, as the five reverb pedals in their lineup suggest, they have a real affinity for manipulating time and space. The beauty of the Slötvå reverb (which is derived from the company’s very similar Spin FV-1 chip-based Slö reverb) is how satisfying and simple it makes dramatic shifts between time/space textures.

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With such a flashy flame top, the Silvertone 1445 was built to catch the eyes of department store shoppers.

I don’t know what’s going on lately, but I’m breaking down all over and my shoulder is the latest to crumble. When I was a kid I would practice guitar in my bedroom near a radiator with an ungrounded amp plug and I’d get a zap right through my guitar and into my hands. Well, my shoulder pain is like that now, only without the cool story of rock ’n’ roll survival. I simply woke up one day like this. After a few weeks of discomfort, I figured I’d try out a new pillow, since mine are flattened like a wafer. I ventured out to the mall and, much to my sadness, saw the local Sears store shuttered, with weeds growing up from the sidewalks and concrete barriers blocking the large glass doors. I know I don’t get out much, but, man, was I sad to see the Sears store I’d known since childhood closed-up like that. My wife was laughing at me because apparently it had been closed for some time. But since I seem to exist on a separate timeline than most folks, it was all news to me.

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