Gear Review: Gamma Drive by Pigtronix

It’s just incredible what they’re doing these days with mini pedals. I’m a big fan of the space they save on pedalboards but recently smaller devices have more increased pop and function than ever before. Yeah, technology!

Pigtronix’s new Gamma Drive leads the pack of small, power mini overdrive/distortions. Sometimes you’ll find that you have to sacrifice a bit for the reduction in size but not so with the Gamma Drive. Gamma Drive is an all-analog micro pedal that uses a mixture of germanium, silicon, and LED clipping diodes to create a perfectly balanced, touch-sensitive distortion. It may be one of the best “feeling” pedals you will play despite its size. Your guitar will come alive and have new life. It sounds too good to be true but it’s not.

The controls are simple; master volume, gain, treble and bass. It can be used as a clean boost all the way to raging distortion with a lot of definition. It’s sort of unique to have a 2-band EQ section in a pedal of this tiny footprint and it’s very effective for tailoring your sound. The treble control boosts or cuts frequencies centered at 2khrz is the perfect range to rise above the mix without getting nasty. Turned up past noon it adds a nice little sparkle to your tone, and fully clockwise it still doesn’t give you a Mohawk. The bass control is centered around 80hrz which is perfect for bringing up the low fundamental in your signal or cutting woofiness from your pickups. This pedal was very cleverly designed and tuned to work well with either single-coil or humbucking pickups. Small changes from one guitar to another are all that are necessary to bring out the best from your particular pickups. 

Perhaps it’s the combination of diodes. Additionally, it’s very touch-sensitive. Either way, there’s not a bad sound to be found in the Gamma Drive, including some very recognizable vintage amp tones. It could easily function as your only drive/distortion or because it takes up so little real estate as a second drive or boost even on an already crowded pedalboard.

You can get sounds very close to a Klon (yup, I said it) all the way to ZZ Top tones, while still retaining a ton of clarity. You’ll be blown away by how versatile the Gamma Drive is, and it sounds great through both clean, slightly breaking up, and dirty amps.  It runs on standard 9vDC power but can also be run at 18vDC for even more headroom. It’s a true bypass pedal and has a current draw of 100mA. 

The input impedance is 10M and the output is 150ohms. Typical of most micro pedals, it measures 3.75 inches by 1.5 inches and is 1.75 inches in height. I’ve got to hand it to the folks at Pigtronix. They’ve always made terrific pedals and I’ve owned quite a few but I never expected something so small and so effective from them, especially at this price point. They have quite the reputation over the years for breaking new ground and pushing the envelope with genre-pushing, innovative pedals you didn’t know you needed until you tried it. In this case, they’ve created something quite classic and simple yet no less essential. 

Take it for a test drive and you’ll hear what I mean. Street price is only $129.

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