How it Works and Final Score: 7.7
For a $99 pedal, this thing sure has a lot of controls, helping give your overdriven tone an injection of variety not normally seen. First off, the two foot switches activate the overdrive itself and then an additional boost feature that can be used as a lead or solo tone. Which foot switch is which is controlled by the OD-Boost Switch located between the “More” and “Tone” knobs and allows you to choose if you want to engage the boost or drive first in the series. The “More” knob control the level of the boost effect, “Tone” adjusts tone in the same treble/bass configuration most drive or distortion pedals have, while “Output” controls the level of the pedals volume. Lastly, “Drive” controls the level of gain applied to the drive effect, as expected. The second small switch, labeled “clip”, controls the type of clipping the pedal will use to produce the drive tones, though no further specification is given.
The Emerald Overdrive pedal from Dr. J provides a large palette of tonal options in one affordable package. Personally, I felt the pedal provided tones closer to distortion than drive, and struggled at low drive settings. That being said, the tones it did produce were pretty great, even if the gain spread was poor. The ability to switch on a boost, with level controlled by the “more” switch was super useful and something I put a high value on for live situations. Having two pedals in one in that regard was fantastic, and more then made up for the mediocre overdrive sounds.
The pedal really thrived with the tone turned up to combat some of the bass-heavy features of the pedal, and the drive control sounded quite good from the 12 o’clock position and up. I heard very little difference when adjusting the clip setting and changing the OD to boost settings, making me feel they were somewhat unnecessary bells and whistles.
The metal casing feels very sturdy itself, though the pedal is very light and almost feels hollow. This would slightly concern me only in the sense that there may be excess room for wires and circuits to move or bump around in the housing during travel. However, I have yet to have any problems with it, and even through it around a bit to see if I could hear any rattling or movement inside and got nothing. However, I’m still somewhat skeptical of it long term, thus the 8 out of 10 rating.
Just the addition of the boost option makes this pedal an excellent value already, as you basically have two pedals in one. Especially for younger musicians on a budget, this is a crazy valuable tool for your live performances. Even though the tones aren’t perfect, I think this pedal still gives you plenty of options for a simple, reliable overdriven tone that is best suited for noisy garage rock and classic rock, but not blues or fusion. You lose a bit of note clarity, but you won’t be disappointed overall! Demo coming soon, be sure to check it out!