Free The Tone SOV-2 Overdrive pedal review

In 2011, Japanese electronic genius, Yuki Hayashi set up his own company, Free The Tone to concentrate on making pedals, cables and rack systems for both the mass market and a growing bespoke client base.

His first pedal is the Free The Tone custom SOV-2 overdrive, a reworking of the revered Providence SOV-2 favoured by several prominent guitarists such as Matt Schofield and Carl Verheyen.

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The pedal is primarily designed to offer natural overdrive while retaining the guitar's tone. On top of the red metal casing, there are three dials (level, tone, drive) with a bright blue LED to show when it's on - this will become dimmer and eventually go out when power drops below 5 volts (useful for early battery change warning). Two quarter-inch jacks provide the ins and outs with true bypass circuitry for the purist signal path.

Unlike most drive pedals, the FTT SOV-2 pedal has a high power consumption of 90mA (9v) so while an alkaline battery will last for around 2 hours in use, it might be preferable to use a power adaptor instead. The reason for this is due to a special bipolar power supply that powers the internal circuitry with +/-15 volts. With more than three times the dynamic range of conventional 9 volt pedals, the sonic results are very special and make it different to Providence's present SOV-2.

As for the tones, the FTT SOV-2 overdrive excels in all manner of blues and classic rock flavours. Set the gain low and open up the tone for SRV-like neck singlecoil licks or increase the drive and dial back the tone for classic '70s bridge humbucker rock riffing or juicy Dumble amp-like tones. With this classy pedal and your guitar's pickup and volume controls you've certainly a lot of options!

The price for the FTT SOV-2 is 36, 400 Yen (approximately £295)

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Audio demo

The audio clip below features five blues rock rhythm examples using the FTT SOV-2 overdrive pedal 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).

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