Updated: Jun 2, 2020
The #Greer Lightspeed is one that really needs a test drive if you’re after a mild to mid overdrive pedal that retains the sound of your guitar while adding a little mojo on the way.
Just amazing for blues and rock tones, this little beast also maintains the feel of your amp in a very natural way.
Who is Nick Greer?
Firstly, I just love reading the opening section of the'About Us' section on their site at: https://www.greeramps.com
When Nick asked his grandfather what he should do in life he gave Nick two pieces of advice we’d all do well to live by and which possibly tell us all we need to know about Greer Amplification-‘You’ll know … you just know when it clicks’ and‘Pick one thing, do that really well and you’ll go far.’
These are axioms I can only hope my own two children grow up to live by and ones that have clearly been deeply embedded in Nick’s outlook on life and are evident in his products. Nick picked one thing, and does it extremely well indeed. In my humble opinion, I think Grandpa Allen would be proud.
Greer Amplification is based in Athens, Georgia, USA and started up in ’98 when they started making pedals for themselves and things just developed from there when word got out just how good the pedals were.
There are now a number of great pedals and amplifiers on offer by the Greer crew, and I was lucky enough to get my hands on the gorgeous Lightspeed Organic Overdrive.
What Makes This Pedal Special?
Tone and feel. And that's where the review could end in all honesty. However, let’s get into some more detail.
Very simple in appearance with its industrial-like, unadorned metal casing, and an almost art deco faceplate. Simple, but beautiful. Its dimensions are 4.77” x 2.6” x 1.39” and it’s powered by 9-18v standard negative centre adapter with a current draw of 11mA @ 9v. This makes it very pedal board friendly as it's around the same size as a standard size pedal and takes the ubiquitous Boss style power supply.
It gets interesting here as the Lightspeed is hand-built and the components are clearly top quality, but they are covered with some type of epoxy resin, meaning that the Lightspeed keeps its secrets close to its heart.
Whether this is to prevent reverse engineering and thousands of cheaper clones in mini pedal form flooding the market is unclear, but seems likely, and who could blame Greer if this is the case. What it does mean though, is that it’s also hard to tell what circuit the pedal is based on. As it does state on the Greer site that Nick has taken ‘vintage circuits and adapting them, modifying them, and tweaking them so that they hardly resemble their predecessors’ I’m assuming that this isn’t a completely original design. However, this isn't a criticism as which modern pedals truly are?
These are as simple as it gets:
Loudness – volume
Drive – gain
Freq. – tone
These all do the obvious, with the Loudness having enough level to use as an incredibly good ‘transparent’ boost that can really make those tubes glow and sound glorious; the drive goes from the aforementioned boost through to medium overdrive; and the Freq. control boosts and cuts enough to accommodate most pickups, without ever getting harsh. Although you can get it sounding a little muddy if you really try with humbuckers.
Going through a Two Rock Studio Pro 35 and 2x12 cab with a Suhr t-style guitar, the Lightspeed really did seem to just accentuate the positives of the gear without adding much in the mids, as some pedals can. An almost Klon like feel but without the slight hump associated with these pedals, and beautiful, blooming harmonics help push the sound into the sublime.
Check out the demo here:
With a thickness to the tone and a nice cutting sizzle on top, but without harshness, the pedal also responds very well to being boosted by another pedal. I loved it with a J Rockett Archer pushing it and the amp into greater sustain and compression for lead work. Add a bit of reverb and delay and I was in heaven.
The Greer is also extremely rewarding for those of you whose play style abounds with picking dynamics and it responds brilliantly to guitar volume roll off too. This would be my first pick for dynamic blues guitar tone, although there are other pedals that come very close with the aforementioned Archer being another of my favourites.
If you want a mild overdrive that retains the sound and feel of your guitar and amp, while adding a thickness of tone that just exudes mojo and inspiration, this is your pedal. There may be one or two moans on the internet about the price of the Lightspeed, but once you’ve played one, you’ll be glad you saved up a little extra, because there’s no doubt this pedal’s a keeper.
It’s certainly made me want to try out a few more of Nick Greer’s offerings and I’ll be keeping my eye out for a Southland Harmonic Overdrive, which is based on the Lightspeed but with more gain on tap and some clipping options that sound very interesting, and a Gorilla Warfare Mk II, which is their take on a Rat circuit. I can't wait to see if their higher gain offerings are as good as the Lightspeed.