Posts Tagged ‘distortion pedal’

EWS Little Brute Drive

Summary: Proving the old adage that “big things come in small packages,” the EWS Little Brute Drive is an absolute distortion machine, capable of mild crunch to face melting distortion. Don’t let the “drive” in the name fool you. This ain’t an overdrive – but who cares? 🙂

Pros: Though it has output level and treble controls inside the enclosure, the pedal is set to unity gain, so no need to mess with output volume. You just set the gain knob where you want it, then turn it on. It’ll instantly turn your guitar a fire-breathing dragon!

Cons: None. Absolutely none.


  • Single gain knob. All the way left gives you about the max overdrive of a soft OD pedal like the Timmy. All the way right is evil – very evil – distortion. 🙂
  • True bypass
  • Runs on either a 9V battery or 9V power supply (I use a 1-spot).

Price: ~$129 Street

Tone Bone Score: 5.0 ~ I could barely pull myself away from playing this evening to write this review! I was having way too much fun with this pedal!

I have to admit that I haven’t been too much into distortion pedals in the past, but since I got a Strat, none of my overdrive pedals could give me the kind of creamy crunch that I love for playing rock songs. It’s not a problem with my Les Paul, and though my new Strat does have some higher-output pickups, it’s still not the kind of gain that a Les Paul produces. So I figured that I’d try a distortion pedal. Enter the Little Brute Drive.

After watching some very good videos and listening to some sound clips of the pedal, I knew it would do the job. I wasn’t mistaken. This freakin’ pedal has more gain than anything in my arsenal. I was amazed that at even with the gain all the way down, it was more than the gain that my beloved Timmy produces! But the even cooler thing is that even at the highest gain setting, note separation is incredible! I was concerned about that because my past experience with distortion pedals is that they get really muddy and compressed at high gain settings; not the LBD. The distortion is tight, but it never gets muddy, and the EQ response is pretty flat to boot.

Fit and Finish

Though it is diminutive in size, it’s built like a tank, and it is definitely gig-worthy. It has a nice red powder coating – almost like a warning that this thing breathes fire!

How It Sounds

Make no mistake: This is NOT a low-gain pedal. It is meant for crunch and face-melting. So if  you’re looking for something milder, best stick with an overdrive pedal. But if you’re looking for lots of gain and sustain AND clarity, this is a pedal that will do the job in spades.

I recorded a couple of quick clips to demonstrate the pedal. I had the gain knob set to noon on both clips. I used a Barron Wesley Alpha with humbuckers – though I played both clips in split coil to at simulate a single-coil guitar, and I used my Fender Hot Rod purely clean. With the first clip, I do a comparison riff. The first part is the guitar with no effect, then I switch on the LBD. The second clip is just me noodling.

Yowza! I really had to have a much lighter touch on the fretboard playing this pedal, and since the guitar I was playing is so resonant, I had to mute the strings I wasn’t playing because the pedal picks up EVERYTHING! It’s incredible! And to think that I was able to get that kind of gain with the gain knob set at noon!

Overall Impressions

I love it. ‘Nuff said. The sustain, the drive, and most importantly the note separation and clarity make this pedal a winner.

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Ahh… yet another distortion box! Hehe. You know I just dig ’em. This one is from the same guys that bring us the J. Backlund Designs guitars; specifically, Bruce Bennet, of Bennett Music Labs, the actual maker of the J. Backlund Designs guitars.

I discovered this pedal while perusing the web for videos of the JBD-100 that I announced yesterday. It turned out that there was a video of how Bruce built the Brown Sound pedal (it’s below). That really got me interested in the pedal, so I did a bit more searching. I went to the J Backlund Site, and they had a link to view and list to sample of their pedals on a MySpace page.

That turned out to be a bit of dead-end because I couldn’t find where to buy them. I finally found a place that sells the pedals, call OohLaLa Manufacturing. Apparently, they’re a distributor and production house for a bunch of boutique pedals. They either take designs from pedal designers, then manufacture them or, as I found out from Bruce Bennett today, they just distribute the finished pedals. Defintely check out their site! Too bad they don’t have sound samples.

The Brown Sound

The original “Brown Sound” was popularized by the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Clapton with the “Woman Tone.” In its simplest sense, the Brown Sound was produced by using a bit of fuzz combined with TONS of power tube distortion. The end result was a way huge sound! Fast-forward a bit, and the Brown Sound then became associated with Eddie Van Halen. But to produce his tone requires a bit more work.

What about the Brown Sound pedal? Well, it’s not an EVH tone simulator. Apparently, it’s more of a Hendrix tone simulator as the guys at Analogman describe here. Interesting to note that this pedal is not meant to add gain. The volume knob is more of a volume cut, and the drive adjusts the amount of “Brown” you get. That’s actually kind of cool because I’m assume you don’t have to mess around with the volume much to find unity gain. Just leave the volume knob wide open, and let the pedal do its thing.

I’m gonna have to contact the guys over at OohLaLa to get more information about this pedal. I love that tone, and to get it in a box would be awesome!

I forgot to mention: The pedal is all hand-wired, and it’s only $159! Pretty cool! Anyway, check out the video of how it’s made.

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