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Ashdown John Myung Double Drive review

The Dream Theater bassist teams up with Ashdown for a tooled-up dual distortion perfectly voiced for bass guitar

Ashdown John Myung Double Drive
(Image: © Ashdown Engineering)

Our Verdict

This Ashdown x John Myung collaboration is perfect for bass, with a super-heavy crunch from a super-solid unit.

For

  • Solid build.
  • Thunderous bottom end.

Against

  • Nothing.

Why take two distortion pedals out when you can take one? That’s the logic behind the signature overdrive of Dream Theater’s bassist extraordinaire and Ashdown bass amp user John Myung.

Ashdown produced its Double Drive pedal after consultation with Myung and his bass tech Maddi Schieferstein, the idea being to create a pedal that would sit well tonally with his signature Ernie Ball six-string Bongo. Myung is quoted as saying: “Drive 1 is great at harmonic distortion, and Drive 2 offers a great tweak in bass presence, being able to bring it out without getting in the way of itself.”

In other words, the first option adds and boosts overtones, while the second boosts high-mid and top frequencies.

Remove the JMDD from its packaging and its solidity is impressive, with the external case built using 1.6mm Zintec – or zinc-coated steel – with a 0.9mm alloy overpanel. It’s heavy, but not problematically so, with your attention drawn immediately to the twin volume-unit meters, one per drive. Connect the unit with the two supplied six-foot cables (a first in our experience), and you’re off, with the VU meters yellow when inactive and bluish-white when in use.

Select a drive, or both at the same time if you wish, and the VU meter/s will show you how high your input volume is, allowing you to back off a bit if you’re in the red and thus risking clipping – unless, of course, that sound is what you want. However, such is the degree of available distortion that you’re unlikely to need excess volume going in.

We tested Drive 1 with the Gain control on half and the Loud knob maxed, and we were rewarded with a cutting distortion with massive sustain. Roll on the Tone control if you need some extra clank, and indeed you might well require some of that, because the pedal retains all the bottom end you could ever need. 

Ashdown John Myung Double Drive

(Image credit: Ashdown Engineering)

Take the Loud control down and some satisfyingly obnoxious mids emerge, which will be just the thing if you need to cut through heavy guitar tones.

Drive 2 is modulated by two suitably titled Grit and Burn controls which add more of an edge or sharpness to the drive, itself a classic doomy distortion. The two can be combined for a whole range of overdrive tones, using all five controls freely – unlike cheaper effects units, the knobs operate across their entire turn, with no sudden surges to irritate you and your neighbors.

The Double Drive also functions as an effects unit or DI – it has an XLR out and a Ground Lift switch, making it useful on stage or in the studio. Given all this, we’re impressed with its build, tones, and price point. 

Specs

  • PRICE: $599 / £299
  • MADE IN: China
  • FEATURES: Drive 1 with Gain, Loud and Tone controls, Drive 2 with Grit and Burn controls, 2 x VU meters, Ground Life switch, XLR out
  • WEIGHT: 2.6lbs
  • DIMENSIONS: H, W, D: 2.4” x 7” x 4.7”
  • POWER: 9V power supply, supplied; 2 x instrument cables and an XLR cable also supplied
  • CONTACT: Ashdown Engineering (opens in new tab)

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Joel McIver is the Editor of Bass Player magazine. A journalist with 25 years' experience in the music field, he's also the author of 35 books, a couple of bestsellers among them. He regularly appears on podcasts, radio and TV and occasionally teaches at BIMM.