Hagerman has just announced two new tube-based effects pedals, an overdrive and a boost. They are called, well, “Overdrive” and “Boost”. Valve-based pedals are nothing new, but when done well they can be a fantastic tool in your search for the perfect tone.
As expected, there’s not much here in terms of controls or tweakable parameters. You get a controller for Level, in addition a further control for Tone. That’s it. Then there’s the tube itself. It’s not a 12AX7, as I expected, but an EF86 tube. These are known for nice overtone performance and low microphonics – a good choice to supply 21 dB of gain.
The valve itself is exposed to the air, so it’s only covered by that protection bar. That should suffice to keep it safe, but it does look a little fragile. Be careful when stomping!
With a similar layout, the new Hagerman Overdrive also has the controls for Volume and Drive. But it’s also equipped with a 2-band EQ with Treble and Bass. As on the Boost pedal, the tube is exposed. But this pedal has a 12AX7, which can be exchanged for identical models such as the 5751, 12AY7 or 12AT7. That lets you experiment with different valves and explore different valve characteristics. Neat.
33 dB Gain is available, which should be ample. You can see and hear that in the video below – the volume knob is somewhere at 10 o’clock and that’s still louder than when the pedal is bypassed, so it looks like there’s plenty of gain on tap here.
In the last few years we’ve seen companies like Friedman trying out tube-based pedals with their Motor City Drive and Fuzz Fiend. Perhaps valve pedals are coming back into fashion again. You can still pick those two pedals up at Thomann for a really great price here and here.
But if tubes are fragile, why expose them to the air on a pedal? Yes, there’s a slight risk you might break it. On the other hand, you can run them hot because they are being cooled by the air. The valve is less likely to fail from overheating and you can drive the tube to get those juicy tones.
I’m a fan of valve-based pedals. I own both the Friedman ones mentioned above as well as a couple of the cheaper Behringer VT999 tube drive pedals as well. You could also try the super-cheap TC Electronics Tube Pilot pedal, too. I haven’t heard that one in action yet, but at that price it could be worth a punt. Half the fun with these things is trying out different valves to see how they alter your tone. Happy tone hunting!
RRP: EUR 245 for the Hagerman Boost and EUR 255 for the Hagerman Overdrive
This post contains affiliate links.