GFS Bluesdrive Classic

Monday, January 4, 2010| by Will Chen

When I first saw the new line of GFS pedals, I was intrigued to say the least. With their reputation for providing high quality gear at a very affordable price point with their pickup line and Xaviere guitars, my hopes were high that these would deliver beyond their attractive pricing. Jay Abend, owner of Guitar Fetish, stated over at Harmony Central that while the pedals are manufactured by by Biyang, a Chinese company which offers a full line of effects and amps which supply a fair amount of OEM products to domestic importers, they’ve been modified from stock to the tonal specifications set forth by him and his crew.

The GFS Bluesdrive Classic is an overdrive pedal in a powder coated, light blue, oversized enclosure with controls for drive, volume, and a three way character switch which offers a thin, fat, and rotund setting. Potentiometers are topped with white chicken head knobs adding a touch of character to the otherwise utilitarian cosmetics. Exterior construction is clean and solid steel which feels like it would survive years of abuse with ease. Additionally, the entire line of pedals offers true bypass switching with a top mounted centered grounded Boss style power jack.

The brief manual (more like a quickstart guide) contains several presets which allude to the pedals three voices matching classic Fender amps with the thin setting provides Twin like tones, fat yielding Delxue textures, and rotund punching things up into Bassman territory. Now this isn’t a modeling pedal which promises to morph your amp into a classic Fender, but the Bluesdrive Classic is an unforgivingly colored pedal (in a good way) which definitely will imprint its own tonal characteristics onto whatever it’s plugged into. I auditioned the pedal primarily with a Peavey Bandit and an SX SST57, PRS Singlecut SE, and a Highland Royal loaded with GFS Mean 90’s.

First up, I put the Bluesdrive Classic through the paces with the SX SST57. The thin setting provides an Ibanez TS9/808 style voice with a tight low end and rich midrange matching the entire gain range of the classic green pedal by noon on the gain dial. Past that point the pedal begins seriously compressing in a very musical and saggy way pumping up the sustain and indeed hinting at the tones of a cranked Tweed Fender. The fat and rotund settings provide increasing amounts of pre-clip low end boost increasing both the amount of gain and early compression. While both the thin and rotund settings worked well, I felt the fat setting beefed up the SST57 incredibly well. At extremely subtle gain settings, the pedal functions like an almost clean boost with just a touch of hair around the edges. Cranking up to just shy of noon provides a nice warm overdriven tone with the perfect amount of sustain for soloing yet enough clarity for more intricately voiced chords. With the gain up around three o’clock (the manual’s cranked Deluxe setting), the tones are thick and compressed with a saggy low end.

With both humbuckers and P90’s, the results weren’t quite as inspiring as it was easy to get a bit muddy due to the somewhat dark and compressed nature of the pedal. However, using the thin setting at moderate gain levels I was able to dial in some sweet tones fairly easily and for fans of the thick, woman tones from a humbucking neck pickups this may be you’re ideal pedal.

While this isn’t the most versatile pedal in the world, what it does it does extremely well. If I had to describe this pedal in a single word it would be fat. Jay and the GFS guys hit the nail on the head with the title of this pedal. The GFS Bluesdrive Classic is an excellent choice for those looking to elicit girthy, hard edged blues and driving rock from an otherwise anemic rig.

Listen to a demo of the Bluesdrive

Price: $49.95 Direct
Pros: Good cranked Tweed Fender-esque tones
Cons: Low end a bit muddy with some guitars and amp settings

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Filed Under: Reviews, GFS