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How do you use your favorite overdrive pedal? Is it left on practically all the time because it helps your amp and pickups deliver peak performance? Or do you just kick it on as a solo boost when you need that extra gain, volume and tonal cut?
Many guitarists find they need both options and end up buying two overdrive—one to leave on and another for those moments when they need to push it over the top.
When our Danish friends at T-Rex became aware that devotees of their now-classic Alberta overdrive were employing the two-pedal solution, they addressed the issue by creating the new Alberta II dual overdrive, which features two nearly identical channels of the same beloved overdrive and switchable fat circuits.
Mirror-image controls are provided for the Alberta II’s channels: level sets the output strength, gain adjusts the amount of drive/distortion, and tone governs the amount of high end in the signal and lights up to indicate when a channel is active. Each channel also has a Normal/Fat mode switch that alters the overtone focus without affecting the pedal’s transparency, resulting in beefier tones with single-coils and thicker, more pronounced low-mids with humbuckers. Either channel can be activated with a single touch of the appropriate footswitch, but both channels can’t be used simultaneously: stomping the active channel’s switch a second time bypasses the unit completely. The Alberta II can operate on a nine-volt battery, a regulated nine-volt power supply or a T-Rex Fuel Tank multi-pedal supply.
As noted, the channels don’t produce exactly the same tone, feel and thrust. Channel two is somewhat less compressed, more open and sparkling. It’s really a small difference, but channel two has noticeably less gain and a more organic response to dynamics and variance of pick attack. Channel one delivers the original Alberta’s gain and presence, creating enough compression to push the amp’s first gain stage into overdrive, but never so much that it interferes with your tone’s bass characteristics. This lack of bass attenuation is also true of the tone control, which keeps your lows intact while offering more or less treble accentuation.
The pedal’s best attribute is its transparency, blending more drive and power into your tone or providing nothing a crystal-clear clean boost, with relatively no effect on string response/feel. The Fat and Normal modes are well designed for enriching the original signal’s lows and thickening the harmonic stew with certain guitar/amp combinations. Because the Alberta II is not picky about input impedance from the guitar or into the amp, it’s absolutely suitable for any musical style or rig.
List Price $369
Manufacturer T-Rex Engineering ApS, t-rex-effects.com
Fat switches in both channels give the tone a beefier character, with more low-end overtones—especially useful for metal applications or to beef up Strat tones.
Channel two is voiced to have slightly less compression and overall gain than channel one for a more dimensional and airy response.
The Bottom Line
If you’re a fan of the original Alberta’s transparent boost and want a second set of footswitchable settings, T-Rex’s Alberta II dual overdrive is a sure bet.