Providence Sonic Drive

Hot on the heels of the recent Chrono Delay pedal, is the release of a new overdrive pedal from Providence: the Sonic Drive (SDR-5). This small white pedal is an updated version of the SDR-4 and sits perfectly between the company's Stampede Overdrive (SOV-2) and the Heatblaster (HBL-2). It's got a lot of gain on tap (at full drive, it's a little thicker than the SOV-2) but has a smoother grain than that on the Heatblaster. The note attack is fast; demo'd with two different guitars (an EMG loaded Musicman Luke and a Bareknuckle's pickup loaded PRS singlecut trem), it responded very well to both singlecoil and humbucker selections. Indeed, with a neck singlecoil, gain set to 12 o'clock, tone at 1 o'clock and level at 12 o'clock it's a very rewarding sound somewhere between Hendrix's neck tone and the smoothness of Eric Johnson's lead tone. With a bridge humbucker it's killing for thick rhythms or throaty lead lines. Increasing the gain to 3 o'clock and the tone to 2 o'clock opened the sound up further with great note sustain even at lower volumes.

Of course, if a pedal doesn't mirror a player's dynamics or volume knob settings it loses points for flexibility. We're happy to report this isn't the case with the SDR-5; like all other Providence drive pedals it responds very well to these variations thanks in part to a very musical mid-range.

To the right of the pedal is a small switch titled FAT that adds gain to the lower mids, providing a little more thud for your amp. While the normal controls sounded great, we found engaging the FAT switch proved so rewarding (especially with high fretboard soloing) that we kept it on most of the time!

In keeping with other Providence pedals, the SDR-5 offers true bypass with a one contact circuit - you can't get a more direct route from input to output than this when the effect is off!

So, a compact pedal that offers smooth and thick drive tones, a means for further thickening with a FAT switch, true bypass and a very low battery drain of 8mA (the bright blue light dims to warn that the battery is just beginning to run down). Most impressive!

The Sonic Drive SDR-5 retails at £199 in the UK and 219€ in Europe.

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