overdrive review

Easy on the wallet, with an abundance of fun tones.

Growly low-gain voice. Punchy. Sounds great at wide open tone settings.

Might be too compressed or too high gain for some tastes.

$79

Fender Hammertone Overdrive
fender.com

4
4
4
4

Fender’s most important gift to the effects cosmos is spring reverb. That legacy, however, tends to obscure other high points in the company’s effects history, which is dotted with a few classics—if not runaway commercial hits.

At appealing prices ranging from $79 to $99, the new Fender Hammertone pedals could easily be huge sellers. But what makes these effects extra attractive is that they don’t have the functional or operational feel of generic entry-level pedals. Most have a strong, even distinctive, personality—at least compared to other inexpensive effects. They each come with extra features and voices that stretch the boundaries of the foundational tones. And if the voices aren’t always the most refined or lush when compared to more expensive analog equivalents or expensive digital units, they are fun and prompt a lot of musical sparks.

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A pedal that forces you to rage and riff.

Excellent Marshall-style tones. Very interactive EQ section.

Available gain may fall short for some metal players. Presence control is subtle.

$189

MXR Tom Morello Power 50 Overdrive
jimdunlop.com

4.5
5
4.5
4.5

One of the great joys of any guitar journey is stumbling on happy accidents. Tom Morello has made an entire career of turning those accidents into timeless riffs and signature “non-guitar” sounds. So it’s no surprise that Morello’s signature MXR Power 50 Overdrive, which is ostensibly built for Marshall-in-a-box tones, delivers those sounds with a twist.

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A classic brand’s colorful return to the stompbox fray is marked by equally vibrant sounds.

The resurrection of Maestro as a stompbox-building concern has been a real breath of fresh air. With their colorful, substantial enclosures and illuminated bugle logos, Maestro’s five new stomps recall an era when effects pedals were still, thrillingly, working through their infancy. Call them retro if you want, but they look awesome, offer practical functionality, and sound great by just about any measure.

The beauty of Maestro’s stomps runs deeper than cool, colorful enclosures. There are a lot of compelling and often distinctive sounds in these effects. And with the promise of even more new releases before the end of 2022, it’s hard to not be excited about what oddities and original sounds might lie in wait. But for now, these new cornerstone introductions suggest that Maestro is embracing the creative possibilities of an new all-analog pedal line and aiming for sounds and functionality that offer real alternatives on the more accessible side of the cost spectrum.

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