EarthQuaker Devices has a knack for launching pedals that range from ideal tools for those seeking otherworldly sonic textures to vintage-inspired stompboxes for old-school players. Falling more in the latter group, the Westwood Translucent Drive Manipulator is a versatile dirt/boost box with powerful EQ and a wide range of drive levels.
Superficially, the Westwood’s Drive, Level, Treble, and Bass knobs might seem pedestrian, but the Treble and Bass controls offer a twist in the form of a center detent and 20dB cut/boost. In basic terms, that means its EQ section can fatten single-coil sounds or put the raunchiest humbuckers on a diet. The switch controls are smartly designed relay-based true-bypass circuit that is far superior, with greater reliability and a lack of noise.
We tested the Translucent Drive Manipulator using a Les Paul loaded with Duncan Antiquities and a Deluxe Reverb. With the pedal’s knobs at 12 o’clock, we were off to a rocking start with crisp, cranked British tones displaying a pleasing fizz on the top-end. Backing off the gain to 9 o’clock and both tone knobs slightly, the pedal produced a tone that allowed clean R&B double-stops with a lighter touch as well as stinging single-note lines with a heavier pick attack.
The Westwood is extremely responsive to changes in touch. A twist to the right on the Drive knob resulted in some fuzz characteristics, yet things never got indistinct – it remained consistent, controlled, and usable at any setting.
The Westwood is a well laid-out, versatile box. Its powerful EQ and range of levels enable the player to craft an array of pleasing tones.
This article originally appeared in VG May 2018 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.