In a world where you can’t swing a guitar without knocking 10 Tubescreamer clones off the shelf, new entrants to the oversaturated overdrive market had better have something new to say. Pigtronix’s new Fat Drive (street $140) accomplishes this by exploiting what some might perceive as a weakness in Fender-style guitars—it adds girth to thin-sounding single coil pickups.
Don’t get me wrong: It works just fine with humbuckers too, but the sound this pairing creates, while perfectly proficient, isn’t remarkable. Where it really shines is in letting a Strat play in Gibson’s sandbox with a click of a toe, giving Fender players the best of both worlds at a relatively reasonable price.
Compared to its Pigtronix siblings, the Fat Drive is a simple affair, just volume, gain, tone (turn it all the way up to disengage the tone circuit altogether) and a “more” switch, which doubles the buzz. It comes with an 18 volt adapter for more headroom, but it works just fine on a standard 9 volt daisy chain and, in truth, it’s hard to tell the difference when you aren’t listening for it. The pedal is also smaller than its brethren, which means it doesn’t take up too much space on a pedal board. This is good news, because it plays so well with others. For a full rhythm sound, just leave it on all the time, clicking in other effects at will. But it also works great as a lead boost in conjunction with another overdrive pedal.
In short, while it doesn’t do much to distinguish itself with humbuckers, the Fat Drive is a superb pedal for players who generally prefer single coils’ nuanced tones but want to be able to step up when called on to bring the rock. — Howard Stock