Review: EarthQuaker Palisades Overdrive Pedal — Video

In the beginning, Ibanez created the TS-808 Tube Screamer.

Tone-starved guitarists rejoiced, for it was good. Then the TS-808 was gone, and guitarists roamed the barren tone desert for many years until dedicated believers brandished soldering irons and resurrected its spirit.

However, many interpretations of the “one true tone” eventually scattered the masses in confusion, with some dedicated to the JRC4558D, others to the MC1458, and heretics singing the praises of the TL072.

For many years, the tone disciples at EarthQuaker Devices sought their own path to tonal enlightenment, but eventually the force of the 808 became too strong to resist.

Their answer was the Palisades Overdrive, which is not a clone but rather a sort of Unitarian approach that embraces many interpretations of the spirit of the supreme tone being.

FEATURES The heart of the Palisades circuit is an LM833N dual op-amp, beloved by many pedal designers for its low noise and sweet, smooth distortion. However, the chip is less important here than on other pedals thanks to a versatile circuit that produces every conceivable 808-style overdrive tone and much more. Unlike the ubiquitous three-control overdrive pedal, the Palisades offers separate Gain A and Gain B controls instead of a single overdrive knob, a boost knob for setting a separate output boost level, a six-position voice switch, five-position bandwidth switch, a normal/bright switch and a buffer on/off switch in addition to the standard volume (level) and tone controls. It also includes three footswitches: activate (effect on/off), Gain B (toggles between Gain A and Gain B) and boost (for the aforementioned boost setting). Each footswitch has its own LED to let users know at a glance which settings are engaged.

PERFORMANCE Thanks to the voice and bandwidth switches, the Palisades provides 30 distinct tone settings that include various midrange humps/scoops and different clipping/gain characteristics. Dialing in the ideal setting can take a bit of experimentation, but being able to custom-tailor your tone in such fine detail is a huge advantage. The Gain A and Gain B controls let users dial in separate clean boost and raunchy overdrive settings, and the boost control kicks either setting out front in the mix.

The Palisades is by far the most versatile overdrive pedal I’ve tried. If you can’t find a tone you like from this pedal, you probably should try playing another instrument or staying at home with your Xbox.

LIST PRICE $249.95
MANUFACTURER EarthQuaker Devices,

Voice and bandwidth switches provide 30 different tone combinations that include different EQ, clipping and gain circuits.

Separate Gain A and Gain B controls allow users to access two entirely different overdrive settings, such as clean boost and overdrive grit.

THE BOTTOM LINE The Palisades may be the ultimate 808-style overdrive, offering 30 distinctive tone settings that cover a wide variety of overdrive “personalities” plus two gain settings and a boost function.

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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.