4 overdrive and distortion pedals from Providence

Over the past several years, Providence has proved a leading brand in the UK and US for quality effects, switchers and cables. Based in Japan, they produce an extensive array of pedals, six of which are overdrive/distortion based. Here, we'll look at four of them with audio examples at the end to highlight their sonic qualities.

Check out large pictures of all four pedals

All the pedals feature the same metal casing and all but the Stampede DT, three dials for tone manipulations. Favouring strong colours like red and orange, they all would feature boldly on a pedal board. Each also has a strong LED light for when the pedal is on - when the battery drops below a certain amount (ie between 5 to 7 volts, depending on the pedal) the light will become dimmer, providing an early warning to change the battery before the sound degrades. Most useful.

First up is the yellow cased SDT-2 Stampede DT, a pedal that uses the same up converter circuitry as the company's popular SOV-2 Stampede Overdrive but with a sound that is Providence's most aggressive yet. Not for the weak hearted, the distortion is powerful and arresting going from a low roar at low gain to a snarling metal-biased tone at higher gains. With the two band EQ, it's possible to go from 70s hard rock through to Metallica and beyond - tapping, legato and pinch harmonic fans will love this pedal! Offering true bypass (S.C.T circuit) and double contact grounding (D.C.G. circuit), you've got dependable pro-level circuitry perks too.

If you like your distortion a little warmer, the orange cased Heat Blaster HBL-3 would be for you. With just one tone control and a bass boost switch, there's a lot of flexibility on offer with fat lows and mids to drive your amp. With the same S.C.T and D.C.G circuitry as the SDT-2 (and others in the range), the tube-like drive on offer is perfect for all manner of 80s and 90s classic and hard rock.

Moving to Providence's higher end F series of pedals, the ornately decorated Flame Drive FDR-1F is reminiscent of the SOV-2 Overdrive but with more gain and low end power (it has a bass boost switch) on offer. It's a very musical pedal, ideal for emotive soloing plus it features the company's Vitalizer circuit that prevents signal degradation when chaining many pedals together. This circuit is active even when the pedal is off.

Lastly, the Silky Drive SLD-1F is a wonderfully open sounding pedal that seems to sit sonically between the SOV-2 and HBL-3; it has the transparency of the SOV-2 with some of the HBL-3's drive possibilities. With a white and silver swirl designed casing it looks the part and offering V.N.S (noiseless switching) and Vitalizer circuit, it sounds great too. From BB King-like light gain through to modern Jeff Beck tones, blues and rock fans will love it.

The UK SSP prices for the pedals are:

Stampede DT SDT-2; £216
Heat Blaster HBL-3; £216
Flame Drive FDR-1F; £316
Silky Drive SLD-1F; £316

For more info visit Providence.

Audio demos

The audio clips below feature five blues rock rhythm examples using four different Providence pedals plugged into Guitar Rig 5's Twang Reverb (Twin) amp with matching cab software, all controls set to noon. The guitar used was a Musicman Luke fitted with EMG pickups (S/S/H).

Each pedal's audio clip follows the same format:

  • 1 & 2; funk blues riff - neck singlecoil then bridge humbucker, 1/4 gain, level and tone at noon.
  • 3 & 4; funk rock riff - neck singlecoil then bridge humbucker, 3/4 gain, level and tone at noon.
  • 5; rock riff - bridge humbucker, 3/4 gain, level and tone at noon.

Providence Stampede DT SDT-2 demo

Providence Heat Blaster HBL-3 (bass boost on) demo

Providence Flame Drive FDR-1F (bass boost on) demo

Providence Silky Drive SLD-1F (gain boost on) demo