I can give you a reason why certain pedals become legendary and often get name-checked by rhapsodic fans in online forums and magazine articles.
Throughout my career, I’d hear about an “amazing” unheard-of pedal that would set me off on a wild goose chase, and after finally getting around to playing it, well, what’s that expression? If you know, you know.
I’ve played most of these romanticized stompboxes, and for the most part, they live up to their accolades. It’s also why some of them have been repeatedly cloned, to mostly impressive results. Warm Audio is well known for making faithful recreations of tried-and-true microphones as well as recording gear, and whether you know it or not, rare guitar pedals.
The company recently added two additional pedals to their roster: the Centavo (a dead-on “Klone”) and the Warmdrive (a true Zen-inspired repro). I’ll save you the trouble and let you know that the Centavo is a bonafide knockout; but for this review, I’d rather direct my focus on the Warmdrive – the more esoteric of the two – which is so outstanding, you’ll understand why an overdrive pedal of this caliber is consistently at the top of every guitarist’s wish list.
Warm Audio prides itself on matching the authentic circuit, which involves pairing high-end chips like 2N7000 MOSFETs, 1N34a Germanium/Schottky BAT41 diodes, a NE5532 Op-Amp and carbon resistors to approach the enviable “Dumble-style” character of the original pedal made popular by guitarists such as Larry Carlton and Robben Ford.
The four controls for Volume, Gain, Tone and Voice respond as expected, but the interplay between the Voice and Tone allows the Warmdrive to precisely administer the amount of resonant body and treble response before (Voice) and after (Tone) you add gain-clipping. The Warmdrive features true bypass operation and is powered by a 9V battery or 9V DC adapter.
Not to sound too redundant, but this pedal is all about warmth and another heaping spoonful of warmth. It’s quite possibly the most touch-sensitive pedal I’ve ever had in my possession, with a creamy overdrive that’s burnished to perfection but also makes its stinging presence known. It’s an astounding low-to-mid gain that proceeds to make your amp sound as if there’s an extra preamp tube that heats up your signal.
In other words, every knob setting unveils a new “sweet spot” of warmly pronounced drive, whether you need mild distortion or a sustained gain bump that cushions each note and chord in velvety softness.
It also nails that cutting fusion-like tone heard in blues, bebop and country, which many seasoned guitarists lust after – except this time around, you won’t have to dig deep to find Warm Audio’s Warmdrive. And now that you know, you know.
- STREET PRICE: $149 / £165
- TYPE: Overdrive pedal
- CONTROLS: Volume, Tone, Gain, Voice
- FEATURES: 2N7000 MOSFETs, a NE5532 Op-Amp, Carbon Resistors, 1N34A Germanium / Schottky BAT41 diodes
- DIMENSIONS (LxWxH): 4.75” x 2.5" x 2.25"
- WEIGHT: 0.75 lbs
- POWER: 9V DC or battery
- BYPASS: True
- CONTACT: Warm Audio