“Didn’t want to re-invent the wheel, just wanted to make a wheel that could sound beautiful... or rip faces off”: Silktone unveils the Overdrive+, a drive/boost twofer that plays naughty or nice

Silktone Overdrive+
(Image credit: Silktone)

Something special’s been cooking on the breadboards of Placer County, California, and coming in hot off the line at Silktone is the Overdrive+, an overdrive pedal where the “+” is doing a lot of heavy lifting, making this more than just your common or garden variety dirt box.

Yes, we know what you are thinking. Lord knows the world wants for many things but another drive pedal is not one of them. There’s millions of ‘em. 

But, wait a minute. What about an overdrive/boost twofer that has a toggle switch marked “Strangle/Raw”? Besides a low-level drive pedal addiction, common amongst a high percentage of electric guitar owners, this “Strangle/Raw” proposition is one of many good reasons why this could be a pedal worth investigating.

It offers two flavors of boost to complement its drive, and can be deployed for a variety of playing situations – “low-gain always-on tonal enhancer to ripping high-gain lead machine,” Silktone says.

Silktone big boss and designer Charles Henry admits that overdrives are easy to come by in this market. But as anyone with a pedalboard can attest to, there’s always room for one more. 

“What is there to say about an overdrive? They’re everywhere,” says Henry. “Didn’t want to re-invent the wheel, just wanted to make a wheel that could sound beautiful... or rip faces off.” 

Henry was hitherto laboring under the belief that a guitar loaded with P-90 pickups and a quality guitar amp was all you needed, until he put the Overdrive+ together. “I wanted to make one that made me eat my words,” he says.

This is what you might call “a boutique drive pedal” in that it is priced at a serious $269, has a build that shares the high-end aesthetics of Silktone’s amp lineup, and its circuit – a conglomeration of JFETs, op-amps, and “a few diodes” – is designed to eke the most out of what is a relatively simple control surface.

There are three knobs, none of which need much explanation: Volume, Tone, Gain. There is a mini-toggle switch to activate a bass cut, and another to choose between a more textured and dynamic asymmetric clipping mode and smoother, more compressed symmetrical clipping.

The right-hand footswitch engages the effect. The left-hand footswitch engages the boost, which adds “a ton of gain” and brings the Strangle/Raw toggle switch into play. Set this to Strangle and you’ve got an inductor filtering out some frequencies for a cocked-wah, Michael Schenker/Mick Ronson vibe. Set it to Raw for unfiltered boost. Two Amber LEDs let you know when the pedal and its boost section is engaged.

For more details, head over to Silktone, and check out the demos above to hear how the Overdrive+ sounds.

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Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to publications including Guitar World, MusicRadar and Total Guitar. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.