I have always been a big fan of the American clean tone. I have nearly always exclusively used Fender amps and used pedals for everything gainy. If you follow my posts you will know the types of pedals that I use and the ones I like. The Marshall amps have never been a big draw for me, but they of course have their place, and do sound amazing.
So Xotic effects are awesome. There can be no argument on this, they are great, so when they announced that they have designed a pedal that sounds like a Marshall with that lovely plexi sound, it was worth testing out. I have the EP Booster on my board, and like I said in my review, it will never come off! Will the SL Drive be the same?
So the first thing to notice is the size of it. Like the Booster and the SP drive the SL has a tiny footprint. A lot of manufacturers are doing this at the minute and it is great. Same board more pedals!! Don’t judge it by it’s size though, still has 3 dials and a proper foot switch.
The Dials: Drive / Tone / Volume / 4 internal dip switches.
The dials are pretty self explanatory. The Drive changes the amount of gina you get, the Tone changes the Low, Mid and High frequency response, and the volume changes the Total volume output. The really nice thing that I love about this is that they have made the volume dial a lot smaller. Because of the small size of the pedal this means that when you hit the foot switch yo are less likely to change the volume, which personally i do a lot, even with my tiny feet!
You get a good range in the Drive and gain, plenty to play with and it is surprisingly transparent as well. The drives characteristics can be changed with the Dip switches in the back of the unit. like most Xotic effects there is plenty hidden away within that solid casing. The best way for me to describe this is with a diagram!
Once you start playing around with these you can get everything from a Bluesbreaker, JTM series through to super lead stuff. All lovely and simple. To Be honest I haven’t played around with it too much as the standard setting that the pedal comes with sounds great. The super lead with Boost really cuts through if you are planning to use it for solos and lead breaks.
The tone of the pedal ranges from pretty warm right through to a screaming mid and high sound. Everything that you would expect from Xotic and wanting that Marshall sound. If you want this to do the same job as a BB+ or trying to get a great Jazz tone you are going to be let down. But I am guessing that if you know about this pedal and know what it is about, you aren’t looking for that!
The tone also changes depending on the power supply you run it off. Like the EP you can run this on a 9V to 18V adapter. The more you give it the more response you end up with.
It stacks pretty well with other pedals as well. I had this running after a compressor and a JHS Morning Glory and it sounded great, It is a secondary stacking pedal, I wouldn’t put it first in the stack, but working after another pedal with a lower gain setting this works a treat! It doesn’t colour the tone too much and it is of course true bypass so no tone sucked when it isn’t on.
If like me you have a good clean tone that you are happy with and fancy something that does a great job of emulating a Marshall with El34’s in, buy this pedal now! It is superb, and for the money is one of the more affordable pedals.
Yes the build quality is amazing, yes it sounds great, yes you have tons of tonal possibilities and no it wont break down (at least judging by my EP Booster that gets a regular stamping on). This is probably the closest you are going to get to a Marshall sound through any amp, other than buying a Marshall.
Positives: Great tone / Awesome size / Bright LED / Loads of options
Negatives: Just go and buy it!