Updated: Sep 15
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Two drive boxes in one is not a new concept, and I was a little concerned that this one wouldn't be anything new or special considering all the hype. So it was with a lot of excitement and not a little trepidation that I opened up the box, removed the orange pedal from its velvety bag and placed it on my pedal board.
What is it?
According to the Keeley site, the Boost side of the D&M Drive, Mick's, is somewhere between a clean boost and a germanium overdrive and the Drive side, Dan's, is a multi-stage overdrive with 'tube-like gain'.
There are also a couple of features which are fantastic and set this pedal apart from many other dual overdrive models. One is the fact you can have either the Boost before the Drive or the Drive before the Boost with the flick of a switch. Now this is a fantastic feature and not one to be underestimated.
Quite often people put the boost first, a ubiquitous pedal board set up tends to be low gain into high gain pedals, and this makes sense if you want to gain more.. well, gain. But this inherently involves more saturation and, therefore, compression. This is fine but the mistake people often make is setting their boards up this way and then expecting a volume increase to punch through the mix during solos, which just doesn't really work. More gain does not necessarily equate to more volume. Sometimes it's just better to boost the drive signal by 3-5Db into a cleanish amp, especially the mids, which will get you heard. Of course, if your tube amp is already flat out, you'll get the same result as before where you'll just get more saturation and not volume - this is why people who love pedals usually look for amps with high head room, relying on pedals to provide the break up.
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The D&M drive allows you to experiment with this and choose what's right for your style with the flick of a switch. In fact, it's so simple you can even flick the switch between songs or even during a song if you don't mind bending over mid song or have very dextrous toes. Without this switch, on a standard pedal board, you'd have to rewire your board to get the same result. Now that's damn cool.
The other amazing feature is the fact that you can actually separate the two sides if you use a switching board like the #GigRig G2 switcher and if you can do that, you can place another pedal between them if you wish.
I powered it up using a #Gigrig generator, distributer and isolator to ensure clean power, and played it through my Two Rock Studio Pro 35, which is a fantastic pedal platform. I used different guitars to ensure I used both humbuckers and single coils, and overall I was very impressed indeed.
This side is very Klon-like, although there are so many variations on this mythical circuit now I think most of us have forgotten how an original Klon actually sounded.
The Boost has a slight mid-hump, not exaggerated though like a #Tubescreamer , but just enough to make your sound pop out of the mix. Unlike a TS, you don't lose a load of your top end, so you get a lovely sizzle combined with those mids. Just perfect!
Also, for some people, the TS tends to overly compress the signal, which the boost side again doesn't do, meaning you get to keep all those expressive dynamics that are so important.
For me this side of the D&M shines when played into an amp on the edge of breakup with the gain on around 9 o'clock. This gets the most out of the dynamic aspect of the pedal so then you can go from spanky clean to nice bluesy dirt just with the fingers.
The overdrive goes all the way from a very useable crunch to a pretty full on roaring wall of noise, while remaining articulate and creamy. It definitely feels OCD-like with a pretty transparent sound, my strat sounds like a strat, my tele still sounds like a tele, and my humbucker loaded PRS Hollowbody ii also maintains its lovely personality. I really, really like this side of the pedal.
The only way this can be beaten is by combining the two sides and really going for it. With the Boost side first, the Drive is pushed into even further saturation and, to me, it lives up to the hype of being 'tube-like'. It's smooth, yet punchy; aggressive yet easily useable. The whole pedal just screams quality.
With the Boost side after the Drive, it's perfect for maintaining the main sound of the Drive side, but increasing the volume for a solo boost. Again, just amazing.
The versatility of this drive pedal is probably unsurpassed. If you want a nice clean boost, always-on pedal, this will do it. If you want a dynamic pedal that'll respond to your touch, changing from clean to break-up just with your fingers, this can do it. If you want a great bluesy crunch, you're covered. If you want a smooth lead tone for anything from blues to heavy rock, again no problem. And this is before we've even thought about scenarios when you may want both sides of the pedal running, or using a switching system.
There is something incredible about people coming together and creating a product that is just even better than the sum of its parts. This pedal just sings; it inspires and is a worthy contender for your precious pedal board space. I know this is staying on mine!
Check it out on Keeley's site: