Josh Smith teams up with Poly Effects for the Flat V, a two-channel overdrive like you've never seen before

Poly Josh Smith Flat V
(Image credit: Poly Effects)

Josh Smith has teamed up with Poly Effects for a signature overdrive pedal that really is like no other. Indeed, to call the Flat V an overdrive is underselling this thing – this is a guitar effects pedal like no other. 

Eschewing knobs for touchscreen LED sliders, the Flat V is two channel beast, with dual-footswitches, and the capability of swapping the order the channels stack into one another, and six banks of six presets to save your favourite sounds because there is a lot of tone you can chase here. 

Channel A an overdrive stage with selectable diodes. Choose from Schottky, germanium, silicon and LED. Channel B is a gain stage that’s voiced like a tube amp, with cascading JFETs instead of tubes, and synth-style 24dB/octave four-pole resonant analogue filters filters to shape your sound some more. “You’ve got an EQ on your amp anyway,” reasons Poly Effects.

All this will require a quick read of the manual before lift-off. There is a lot going on. But from a distance, the design looks super-intuitive. 

Across the top you have numbered LED buttons for the the six banks of presets. These buttons are colour-coloured and numbered to correspond to the bank number and preset.

There is a Signature button at the top middle of the enclosure which helps you control Channel B’s presets, and will change colour to match the preset bank you are in.

Under this are your four buttons for selecting the diodes for Channel A, and the four waveshapes for Channel B’s resonance filters (sine, triangle, square and envelope follower). There is also a button for swapping the order of the Channels.

There are four LED sliders, each with dual functions clearly noted below on a title button that toggles between functions. For instance, the HPF (high-pass filter cut-off frequency) slider on the far left of the enclosure has a secondary function of High Q (high-pass filter resonance level), selected by pressing the title button below. 

Once you press any of the secondary function buttons, all the sliders are placed in secondary function mode, which should help keep things in order. Other LED sliders include Volume/Sensitivity, Gain/Speed and LPF/Low Q. 

Sure, maybe Poly Effects could have tone all this with dials and toggle switches but on the face of it looks like an easier way of managing presets than some other pedals do. It also looks way cooler.

Maybe it is because of the company he keeps, specifically as one half of blues guitar’s most sought-after production duo with Joe Bonamassa, we thought Smith might a little more old-school in his gear tastes. 

But then his Ibanez signature guitar, the FLATV, is a quietly revolutionary T-style that skews modern-vintage. Maybe this sort of pedal he had always dreamed about. 

The options the controls above present players with all kinds of ways of shaping their overdrive, but then you can also throw your tone off course with auto-wah and tremolo.

All this does sound bamboozling in text but Josh Smith makes sense of it in the demo videos above, where he takes each channel separately and then shows you what you can do with the presets. It sounds amazing. Check them out. 

The Flat V is priced £/$399. The first batch is sold-out direct from Poly Effects but the second batch is available to pre-order now and ships in around two weeks. For more details, head over to Poly Effects

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.