Review: Pigtronix Fat Drive and Philosopher’s Rock Pedals

Sometimes a pedal is just a special effect that provides a certain texture or sonic surprise that is best used sparingly. Other pedals are designed as practical tools that can form the core of a guitarist’s sound. The Pigtronix Fat Drive and Philosopher’s Rock pedals fall into the latter category and have already earned permanent places on many pros’ pedal boards thanks to their excellent sound quality and no-nonsense designs. Best of all these pedals are sensibly priced, making any player’s quest for the ultimate tone a lot easier to reach.


The Pigtronix Fat Drive is an overdrive pedal, and the Philosopher’s Rock is a compressor with the added bonus of a switchable germanium-distortion circuit. Both pedals have very simple and straightforward control layouts. The Fat Drive features volume, gain and tone controls and a mini toggle switch for engaging a More setting that boosts gain and provides a different EQ voicing with enhanced mids. The Philosopher’s Rock has volume and sustain controls and a mini toggle Grit switch that kicks a germanium-based clipping section into the circuit to boost output, overdrive and midrange. Both pedals offer true-bypass switching and operate with an included 18VDC/300mA negative-tip adapter to provide outstanding headroom, dynamic response, definition and output. (A standard nine-volt adapter can also be used for a slightly different sound.)


Although the Philosopher’s Rock is essentially a simplified version of the Pigtronix Philosopher’s Tone pedal with preset treble and blend settings, it’s actually capable of producing a wider variety of compressor tones, from transparent sustain to dramatically “squashed” textures. With the sustain knob at 12 o’clock or below and the Grit switch off, the guitar’s attack and overall tone seem to hardly change, but its feel and responsiveness improve significantly as notes sustain effortlessly and nuances project more assertively. The Grit setting works like a treble booster but without the severe drop off of bass frequencies. Through an overdriven amp it can make a guitar produce wild violin-like swells that transform to sweet, controllable feedback.

The Fat Drive produces impressive boost and fat midrange that’s perfect for solos that cut through the densest mixes. The tone control rolls off highs as it’s turned down from fully clockwise to enhance overall warmth and midrange. The More setting can easily push an amp into distortion, but the tone retains excellent note articulation and dynamics and never gets mushy or flabby.


The Pigtronix Fat Drive overdrive and Philosopher’s Rock compressor/sustainer pedals are no-nonsense, exceptionally useful sonic tools that can significantly improve your guitar’s tone and performance capabilities.

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Chris Gill, Video by Paul Riario

Chris is the co-author of Eruption - Conversations with Eddie Van Halen. He is a 40-year music industry veteran who started at Boardwalk Entertainment (Joan Jett, Night Ranger) and Roland US before becoming a guitar journalist in 1991. He has interviewed more than 600 artists, written more than 1,400 product reviews and contributed to Jeff Beck’s Beck 01: Hot Rods and Rock & Roll and Eric Clapton’s Six String Stories.