Amid the constant churn of new and exciting pedalboard treats, we can get a little blasé about this, but then pedals such as the Ace Of Tone overdrive pedal come along and remind us that there are always a number of cheap but great alternatives to higher-priced boutique stompboxes.
The Ace Of Tone is a stackable dual overdrive pedal that jams together NUX’s Tube Screamer-inspired Tubeman and Bluesbreaker-inspired Morning Star in one enclosure, and gives them Fat and Shine modes respectively to expand your options.
Each has its own footswitch. You’ve got the Morning Star on the right, the Tubeman on the right. Not only is the Ace Of Tune super affordable, it is super simple to get the hang off; both drive circuits use the same complement of controls, with dials for Drive, Tone and Level on each side of the pedal. And, knowing exactly how guitar player’s lizard brains are wired, the Drive controls are the largest dials on the unit.
The Tubeman is a FET-driven overdrive circuit that will give you a bit more muscle in the midrange, perhaps just the thing if you’re running a Fender Stratocaster into a Princeton, and its Fat mode – accessed by holding down its footswitch for a second – beefs up your low-end response for, well, a fatter, rounder tone.
The Morning Star, meanwhile, is a low-gain drive pedal that doesn’t colour your tone too much. It has a switchable Shine mode, which adds extra presence to brighten things up, and could come in handy if you find your sound a little dull. LEDs at the top of the unit let you know which modes are active.
You can stack these two drive circuits together and choose which one feeds the other via a toggle switch. And on the rear of the unit you’ll find further toggle switches for selecting between true or buffered bypass, and for running the Ace Of Tone at 9V or 18V, the latter giving you a wider dynamic range.
Finally, there's an extra 1/4" input for controlling the pedal remotely via a foot controller (indeed, NUX sells one and suggests its NMP-2 is ideal for the job).
The Ace Of Tone a lot of overdrive pedal. At £99, $119, can it be beaten for value? For more details, head over to the NUX website. And for some more ideas for how to get more drive for your buck, check out our eight cheap but great guitar overdrive pedal alternatives to boutique classics.