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Voodoo Lab Sparkle Drive Mod
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  • A Unique Take on the Overdrive Formula

    Voodoo Lab Sparkle Drive ModPublished on 04/30/15 at 09:30
    I was intrigued by the Sparkle Drive when it first came out. I liked the idea of being able to mix in the clean sound along with the overdriven sound of the pedal. I could see the potential of being able to marry the two sounds, but it was several years before I got the chance to try it out.

    My first experience with this type of effect was with the Glimmer Drive e-pedal for the iStomp by Digitech. I loved the effect, and it was one of the sounds that drove me from multi-effects to the individual pedal format. The problem with the iStomp was that since it was entirely digital it didn’t do the overdrive very well, and it didn’t react with the other pedals the way you expect an......
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    I was intrigued by the Sparkle Drive when it first came out. I liked the idea of being able to mix in the clean sound along with the overdriven sound of the pedal. I could see the potential of being able to marry the two sounds, but it was several years before I got the chance to try it out.

    My first experience with this type of effect was with the Glimmer Drive e-pedal for the iStomp by Digitech. I loved the effect, and it was one of the sounds that drove me from multi-effects to the individual pedal format. The problem with the iStomp was that since it was entirely digital it didn’t do the overdrive very well, and it didn’t react with the other pedals the way you expect an overdrive pedal to react. So I went shopping.

    I knew of the Sparkle Drive, and learned about the Mod variation plus Visual Sound (the company is now called Truetone) had introduced the Route 66 V3 that could blend the overdrive sound with the clean tone. I liked the Route 66, but I didn’t need a compressor since I don’t use one (if I had a dollar for every double pedal that only has half of what I want I’d be rich). The Route 66 was slightly larger in size so I focused on the Sparkle Drive by Voodoo Lab. I ultimately decided on the Mod version of the pedal since it offered extra voicings, and with it being the same size as the original version and only about $20 more it seemed like the right choice.

    I own a vintage Ibanez TS-808, and the Sparkle Drive Mod’s circuit that is based on this classic is dead on. The Lead, Rhythm, and High Gain, mods all are very different, and give you more flavors to play with. Most of the time I use the TS-808 voicing, and switch it over to the lead tone every once in a while during the set. This change needs to be done by turning the Mod knob, and cannot be done with a footswitch. The other knobs on the pedal are Gain, Tone, Clean, and Volume, which are all pretty self-explanatory except the Clean. The Clean is how you mix the clean with the overdriven tone. The clean can be turned down to “0” giving you the overdriven sound only, or to “10” which is the clean sound only. So it can be a more traditional overdrive pedal, or a clean boost depending on how this knob is set. I use it with the clean set at about 11 o’clock, which gives the overdrive quite a bit of articulation to picked passages. My gain is set very low at about 7 o’clock, I use this pedal to kick up parts that are more to the clean side of tone. You can use this pedal anyway you want, but this is the way I like it.

    The pedal looks fantastic with the plexi top panel. The input, output, and external power jack, are all at the top of the pedal which is great for saving space on a pedalboard. The footswitch is very smooth, and relatively noiseless. It is true-bypass in case that is important to you. You can power it with a battery, but I’ve always had it hooked up to an external power supply so I don’t know about battery life.

    My only gripe with the pedal is that it seems overly large. It is not enormous, but it seems it could be done in a small platform. I could be wrong about that since I don’t know much about the electronics that make a pedal tick. This is counteracted by the fact the Mod knob gives you four different voicings to choose from.

    Overall I love this pedal. It is a great TS-808 clone with enough changes to make it unique compared to the original overdrive pedal. I have read about other guitarists not knowing how to use the clean portion of it, but I find that you can use it to give some hair to a clean passage or clarity to an overdriven part. Being able to mix in the clean allows the amp to shine letting its voice to be heard clearly (or cleanly).
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