What is it?
Fender's lineup of stompboxes is fast expanding. It's funny to think back to 2018, when it announced a half-dozen newly designed pedals that within a couple of years the lineup would count 22 and here we are with its first pedal for electro-acoustic guitars, the Smolder Acoustic Overdrive.
Overdrive is a fairly bold choice. We could have imagined them taking on a reverb, or maybe a delay. Chorus/flange might have been an easier proposition. But overdrive? That takes guts – it's one of the last effects we'd associate with the great unplugged.
The Smolder shares a similar setup to the other pedals in the Fender lineup. There is the super-tough metal enclosure, the same easy-to-read font under the dials, and the blue LED lights on each control to let you know what's what – ideal for using on stage but if they are not to your liking you can switch them off at the back.
On the enclosure we have a controls for level, blend, drive, Pickup Compensation and a 3-band EQ.
Performance and verdict
The Pickup Compensation feature is evidence that Fender has thought this through. It's not the sort of ubiquitous feature you'd find on a pedal of this type, and yet it you might find it vital. Indeed, even if you dial the drive way back, you can use the Smolder to smooth out your tone – it's a nice surprise, like when you find your drive pedals is great for fattening up singlecoil pickups.
The gain control operates as a boost but quickly turns to dirty, while the 3-band EQ helps you sculpt your tone. Again, keep the drive down and the EQ control is another tone shaper without adding any dirt to your signal. We could see this being many a gigging player's secret weapon, an always-on tone sweetener.
While tone lets you keep on top of the high-end, the blend control is invaluable in balancing your piezo's natural tone with the overdriven signal. It makes for an incredibly musical pedal, one that's surprisingly versatile, and the sort that you never knew you needed until you tried it.
MusicRadar Verdict: Another superlative Fender stompbox, the Smolder is more than just a drive pedal – it could well become the secret weapon of choice for electro-acoustic players.
Type: Acoustic overdrive pedal
Controls: Tone, Treble, Bass, Pickup Comp, Level, Blend,Drive, LEDs off and on
Bypass: True bypass
Sockets: Guitar in, guitar out (the pedal has default inbuilt cabinet simulation when plugged into an amp or PA)
Power: DC 9V