If you’ve cruised the aisles of a guitar show in the last couple of years, and sauntered up to a table full of effects pedals, you’ve probably experienced a little piece of the latest form of “vintage gear sticker shock” when you grabbed that worn-looking wah or lime-green stompbox. It’s not uncommon for certain effects to command a handful of C notes (or if you’re in the market for a real Vox Clyde McCoy wah, the better part of two handfuls).
One company that has always aimed to help those who like the sounds these babies create (but just can’t see spending the coin that puts them halfway to a really good guitar) is Godlyke, which distributes the reissue Maxon pedals we’ve discussed a couple times on these pages.
The company’s latest offering is the “Nine Series,” which includes the Ibanez TS-9-inspired OD-9 Overdrive, the higher-gain SD-9 Sonic Distortion, and the auto-wah AF-9 Auto Filter.
A big part of keeping the vibe alive with these pedals is their housings. Familiar shapes abound (they all use the same die-cast zinc chassis), and the knobs, sliders, and even the colors are reminiscent of our friends from the ’80s.
Always enthralled when we open boxes full of shiny/colorful things, we headed to our test room armed with the pedals, a Hamer Artist HB, and a Fender Stratocaster. At the ready were our trusty Marshall JCM900 half-stack and a Fender Twin Reverb.
Surrendering to primal urge, our paws instinctively clutched the OD-9 first.
The pedal has controls for drive, tone, and level, along with a rectangular on/off footswitch and LED indicator. Other noteworthy physical appointments include case-mounted in/out jacks and a DC power jack.
Through the Twin, the OD-9 proffered that smooth Tube Screamer overdrive. Hitting the switch, we noticed a slight cut in the low-end, but it was a good thing with the Twin because it allowed us to drive the amp a bit harder.
Through the JCM, the OD-9 gave us the added gain and distortion we needed for that “over the top” sustain with nice overdrive edge. This is one of the all-time classic combinations, used by thousands of players for years – and for good reason; it allows the tone of amp to come through without over-coloring it. This is due in part to the fact that the pedal’s negative feedback loop employs the famed JRC 4558 IC chip that propelled the original Ibanez TS-9.
Next, we fired up the SD-9, which is a higher-gain version of the OD-9 that replaces the drive knob with one for distortion.
Maxon boasts that the secret to this pedal’s sound is its simple-but-effective circuit (which also employs the JRC chip), which contributes to its transparency despite the fact it can deliver up to 42 db of gain (which should be more than enough to drown out your rhythm guitarist!).
The unit immediately reminded us of a Boss DS-1, but with noticeably more bottom end. It colored the tone more than the OD-9, but added nice, chunky overtones and tighter lows. Ultimately, we liked the pedal more as a straight distortion pedal than an overdrive boost.
The AF-9 auto filter was last up and is a simple automatic wah-wah. Slider controls for sensitivity and peak let you dial in exactly when the effect is engaged (per your touch on the strings), along with filter, drive, and range switches.
The filter switch (high pass/band pass/low pass) allowed us to tailor the sound more than with other auto-wahs. We were able to get traditional planky wah sounds and a funky wah/volume swell.
With the Nine Series pedals, Maxon has once again addressed guitarists considerable demand for classic guitar tones, while updating and improving the mechanics that make them happen.
Maxon Nine Series pedals
Type of Pedal: Overdrive, Distortion, Auto-Filter.
Features: Quality construction, true/mechanical bypass switch-ing, die-cast zinc chassis, easy-access battery compartments, LED power/battery life indicators, classic tones.
Price: OD-9, $180; SD-9, $180; AF-9, $229.
Contact: Godlyke Distributing, Inc., PO Box 4677, Wayne, NJ 07508, phone (973) 835-2100, www.godlyke.com.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Nov. ’02 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.