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Pigtronix: FAT Drive Review
Given the array of mouthwatering stompboxes in their catalog, it’s easy to forget that Pigtronix is relatively new to the pedal-making scene. The small New York company quickly rose to the top, led by the seemingly endless ingenuity of designers Howard Davis and David Koltai. We at Guitar-Muse were dazzled by the rugged build quality and progressive design of the Envelope Phaser and Echolution.
But these FX wizards were hardly content to rest on their laurels. The Pigtronix FAT Drive, unveiled earlier this year at NAMM, is the latest pedal in the company’s increasingly impressive arsenal. Designed to emulate the rich distortion of a driven tube amp, the FAT Drive gives you classic tone with enough gain to topple a small building.
I’ve yet to use a Pigtronix product that isn’t built to last. It’s clear that these guys are building pedals from the perspective of a guitarist, and the FAT Drive is no exception. It’s small enough to fit on the most cluttered pedalboard, and sturdy enough to withstand the most unforgiving players.
The analog circuit has multiple gain stages, and is controlled by three simple, self-explanatory knobs: Volume, Tone and Gain. The FAT Drive also comes equipped with a switch that substantially boosts your signal.
Like all of the finest distortion pedals, the FAT Drive is also sensitive to picking dynamics – the harder you pick, the more distortion you’ll get. This feature, which is intended to imitate the experience of natural amp distortion, is one of the pedal’s strongest points. While many distortion stompboxes make false claims about pick sensitivity, the FAT Drive actually delivers on the promise.
Find Your Tone
The FAT Drive has a low-pass filter built in, so even with the Gain knob rolled back and the Tone knob at 12 o’clock, it’ll still color your tone. If you want to let all your treble through, you can crank the Tone knob all the way to the right to negate the filter.
Without the filter, you’ll hear lots of ethereal harmonics dusting your signal with celestial overtones. Even with the filter fully engaged, the pedal is rich with harmonics, but it gets warmer and more organic as you turn the Tone knob counter-clockwise.
As you play with it, you’ll find that the FAT Drive becomes an essential secret weapon in your tone arsenal. It has an earthy, vibrant character that melds perfectly with any tube amp, and adds that unmistakable tube sound to a solid-state.
Crank It to 12
Even with the boost switch down, the FAT Drive gives you plenty of gain at your fingertips. But when you really want to shake the floor, simply flip that switch up and watch as the walls come crashing down around you.
Seriously. That little switch adds some huge gain. It virtually turned my little Vox AC4 into a full-fledged AC30. Plug the FAT Drive into a high-gain amp, and prepare for deafening saturated tube bliss.
Of course, you don’t have to dime your amp to get nice tones out of the FAT Drive. Roll the Volume knob back and crank the Gain, and you can get that same rich distortion without a noise violation. But hey, that’s no fun, right?
[rating:5] 5 – Build Quality
[rating:4.75] 4.75 – Sound Quality
[rating:4.75] 4.75 – Features
[rating:5] 5 – Ease of Use
[rating:overall] – 4.87
Whether you want to make your solid-state sound like a tube amp, or you want to enhance your tube amp’s tone, you need the Pigtronix FAT Drive. From organic clean boosts to smooth, harmonically rich distortion, the FAT Drive is the ideal basic overdrive pedal. Pair it with other distortions or use it on its own; either way, you’ll fall in love with this small, simple and completely essential device.