Quick Hit: Big Tone Music Brewery Gray Box Overdrive Review
This '70s-style stomp mates a powerfully sculpting EQ to a muscular, malleable output.
Big Tone’s Gray Box Overdrive does not disguise its relation to the original DOD 250, but it sure takes the concept a whole lot further. It adds germanium/silicon diode switching, which effectively makes the Gray Box a shape-shifting DOD 250/MXR Distortion + hybrid. It also adds a very clever, capable, and tunable EQ that enables you to focus the slap-in-the-face impact of those circuits or soften their harsher edges.
This is a fantastic pedal for overdubbing or double tracking rhythm parts—especially with a softer clipping Klon- or TS-style overdrive or a bass-heavy clean tone as the other half of the mix. I used it primarily with my silverface Bassman and 2x12. It was perfect top-end counterpoint to that amp’s belly-shaking low-end capabilities for both ’70s rock crunch and Steve Albini-, Sonic Youth-, and Pavement-style indie-attack tones.
As fantastic as the Gray Box can sound in these applications, this isn’t an overdrive for everyone. Even with all the EQ flexibility, some soft clipping devotees will find it shockingly immediate and even harsh. But if you crave overdrive tones that inhabit the, well, “gray” area between civilized and brutish, you’ll dig what Big Tone has in store.
Test gear: DeArmond JetStar, Fender Stratocaster, silverface Fender Bassman, ’64 Fender Tremolux
Fender Telecaster Custom with silverface Fender Bassman and 2 X12 cabinet with Warehouse G-12C/S speakers.