Guitar Player Magazine, January 2006

Maxon ROD881 Overdrive/Distortion

Sporting a single 12AX7 in its circuit, as well as a footswitchable boost, the Maxon ROD881 Overdrive/Distortion ($350 retail/$259 street), is a versatile giver-of-the-grind that can please nearly every type of player and style. In the Overdrive mode, the ROD881 offered a tube-like simmer—with a ton of output, thank you very much—that gives of a whiff of cranked-up Fender tweed—i.e. spongy, dynamic, and warm, just asking for you to dig in to each and every note. The 3-band EQ gets major kudos for allowing me to tame my Tele, or spice up the PRS McCarty with a little more sizzle. In the Distortion mode, the gain structure intensifies as harmonics get bolder, and the pedal’s overall character gets more modern and nasty. I dialed in searing, high-gain sounds that turned a modest Fender Super Reverb into a fire breather—at whisper volumes. I could dump the Midrange, crank the Bass, and get a metal tone that sported a swift, brutal attack—the sonic equivalent to a kick in the gut—yet the clarity was there, without any garbled notes. On the back of the ROD881, between the Input and Output jacks, is an onboard Noise Reduction switch as well as a Threshold control. I didn’t find the ROD881 particularly noisy, although, mega-high gain settings in the Distortion mode (especially if the Boost is on) do cause varying degrees of meltdown. So I found the Noise Reduction coolest as an effect. For example, I dialed-up a punishing setting in the Distortion mode, and had sharply cut off slabs of sound. Or set the pedal for a subtle overdrive, crank the Threshold, and the front end of your notes attack gets cut off for a cool, volume swell-type texture. The Maxon also offers enough output to be used as a clean boost. Hell, then kick the actual Boost function on, and you’re amp’s front-end will never forgive you.

KUDOS: Built-in boost gives you even more output. Great range of tones from friendly to frightening.

CONCERNS: None
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