Origin Effects RD Compact Hot Rod review

A reworked RevivalDRIVE that puts a little extra spice in its amp-style overdrive

  • £320
  • €444
  • $390
Origin Effects RD Compact Hot Rod
(Image: © Future / Olly Curtis)

MusicRadar Verdict

With a generous helping of hot sauce on tap, the RD Compact Hot Rod nails that hotrodded amp vibe, offering a range of touch-sensitive tones, from subtle grit to full-on fire-breathing modded Marshall drive.


  • +

    Smaller size.

  • +

    That hot drive done is seriously addictive.

  • +

    Excellent range of features.

  • +

    Blend knob is very useful.


  • -

    Nothing but it doesn't come cheap.

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Origin Effects RD Compact Hot Rod: What is it?

Origin Effects' RD Compact Hot Rod sees the company present a smaller pedalboard-friendly version of its RevivalDRIVE overdrive pedal and give it some extra gain for a hot-rodded amp-like drive. Despite its size, there remains a wide array of sounds and features on offer to tempt the gain connoisseur. 

And it really is one for the connoisseurs. The RevivalDrive Custom is one of the most versatile analogue drive pedals we have ever tried, with a heft price tag to match, and even at just over half the price, the RD Compact Hot Rod is no one's idea of a cheap date. 

What you get, though, is an intuitive amp-in-a-box-style drive, referencing classic hotrodded Marshall, Fender and Vox guitar amplifiers, and some tidy features such as a Blend control, a More/Pres knob to adjust negative feedback, and a post-drive EQ section that helps you tailor the pedal to whatever you are playing it through. 

Origin Effects RD Compact Hot Rod

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

This six-knob Compact format is the spitting image of Origin's RD Compact, but what sets the RD Compact Hot Rod version apart is the amount of gain you can dial in here. Really, you can go to town with it with a full-throated Marshall-esque bark. No matter how you set the pedal, it is designed to replicate the feel and response of an amplifier.

By giving you control of negative feedback, it's quite like modding an amp in real time, adjusting the gain structure and its touch sensitivity. Meanwhile, you have your usual complement of knobs controlling Output, Gain, Lows and Highs.

Origin Effects RD Compact Hot Rod: Performance and verdict

Setting the More/Pres control and finding the right balance of lows and highs is the secret to unlocking the RD Compact Hot Rod's core tones. Origin advises us to think of it as a pedal that recreates the entire signal path of a hot-rodded tube amplifier. That's very much the vibe, and it makes for a very dynamic and musically rewarding playing experience.

Also consider...


(Image credit: Future)

Origin Effects RevivalDrive Custom
Proper cranked vintage Marshall, Vox and Fender amp sounds at practical stage and home levels whatever amp you are using. 

Friedman BE-OD
This is a cracking all-round distortion. Its defined bite and increased output are very noticeable and the tight control does exactly that – removing flab – and the BE impressively retains its character across the gain spectrum.

Strymon Iridium
Awesome cab sims allied to great tones from three amp classics make the Iridium a hugely versatile and compact all-in-one rig for the stage or the studio.

We all know that working a tube amp until it enters this sort of quasi-aerobic zone whereupon a natural compression and harmonic resonance just seems to enhance everything but finding those sweet spots can be tricky. The RD Compact Hot Rod puts them within reach, at manageable volumes for any scenario.

Run it into the front end of, say, a Fender combo, crank the gain on the pedal and adjust the EQ accordingly and find yourself with a face-ripping modded Plexi tone.

There is a lot of gain. More than some players would need. But it's easily rolled off. Take some of the pedal out of your signal via the Blend control and you can find a nice range of textured drive sounds, with superb clarity and note separation. The control is voiced beautifully, with the pedal working in concert with your amp rather than drawing attention to itself.

If the modded Plexi tone is part of the pedal's box office appeal, like the Strymon Iridium, it offers some classic Vox and Fender sounds, too, which suddenly makes the eye-watering price look a little more reasonable. That's the thing, it's a connoisseur's pick, and you wouldn't expect that to come cheap.

MusicRadar verdict: With a generous helping of hot sauce on tap, the RD Compact Hot Rod nails that hotrodded amp vibe, offering a range of touch-sensitive tones, from subtle grit to full-on fire-breathing modded Marshall drive.

Origin Effects RD Compact Hot Rod: The web says

"Maxed out, there are some full-thrash Marshall-type sounds that could strip the paint off your walls, but there’s plenty of lower gain subtlety, too. However, while the main thrust here is modified Plexi, this is more than a MIAB pedal, as there are authentically enhanced Vox- and Fender-based flavours to be had."

Origin Effects RD Compact Hot Rod: Hands-on demos



Rabea Massaad

Pete Thorn

Origin Effects RD Compact Hot Rod: Specifications

  • PRICE: $390 / £320
  • TYPE: Analogue amp simulation/Drive pedal 
  • FEATURES: Buffered bypass, silent switching, all-analogue transistor circuitry, tone-shaping Post-Drive EQ 
  • CONTROLS: Output, Highs, Lows, Gain, Blend, More Presence, Post Drive EQ switch (Power amp/EQ1- brighter amps/EQ2- darker amps), Post Drive EQ adjust, Bypass footswitch 
  • CONNECTIONS: Standard input, standard output 
  • POWER: 9V DC adaptor (not supplied) 100mA  
  • DIMENSIONS: 65 (w) x 138 (d) x 60 mm (h)
  • CONTACT: Origin Effects

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