The BD-1 Brute Drive Distortion pedal is a pedal built by the E.W.S. brand based in Japan. Engineering Work Store (E.W.S.) set out to create a pretty basic pedal that can get you all the classic distortion tones you would ever want. The pedal can get tones from your normal classic rock tones to hard rock tones and they all sound pretty good. The pedal has an on and off switch along with a boost switch. There is a Red LED that goes with the on and off switch to tell you if the pedal is on or not and a Blue LED to tell you if the 10db boost is engaged or not. On the face of the pedal there is a Volume knob along with a Tone knob and a Gain knob. The face of the pedal has a Brute Drive graphic on it and the country of origin is proudly displayed. The appearance is a blend of the clean and clinical look of a mass produced unit with the uniqueness of a boutique unit that may be just bare metal with marker writing on it. There is a 9 volt DC jack and the pedal can be powered by a 9 volt battery.
If you open the pedal up you can see that the circuitry is nice and neat. You can tell that human hands have touched these circuits. There are two wave soldered circuit boards inside the pedal and you can tell that they are wired by hand along with the knobs and the jacks. The inside of the pedal is very tight no space is wasted. The case is made of shiny, bulletproof aluminum with clear rubber feet. All of the components are of excellent quality and the black knobs produce plenty of mechanical resistance so it feels solid when you are adjusting the knobs.
The Brute Drive is voiced for a smooth, classic distortion sound, and it is right on the mark. The tone knob elevates a specific part of the frequency range. When you turn the tone knob down you can get a very dark tone with much of the highs removed. Even with the gain dimed the pedal is not very noisy. At high gain power chords and leads still sound clear. The pedal is not built for metal but can do anything from blues to hard rock. The boost feature is quite nice. When you hit the boost switch you get a nice mid boost that is great for leads or if you just want more drive on the amp. The level of boost can be adjusted by an internal screw. At maximum it can produce a 10db boost effect.
The Brute Drive straddles the line between mass produced pedal and boutique. It is much more versatile than a mass produced pedal but it is also more expensive. The sound is a lot more natural than what you would get from your green or orange pedals but you still wont fool anyone into thinking that the sound is pure amp distortion. If you are looking for a pedal that provides great boost for leads but can also deliver buttery smooth rock tones you might find yourself looking at a E.W.S Brute Drive.