Visual Sound GarageTone Drivetrain

Sunday, November 7, 2010| by Will Chen

When Reverend Guitars introduced the original Drivetrain around 2000, the pedal generated a bunch of buzz. This was really a “boutique” pedal before “boutique” was cool. The classic pedal has since been long discontinued until Visual Sound launched their GrarageTone line at NAMM 2010 with an updated reissue of the much heralded Drivetrain II.

The Drivetrain includes four controls across the top of the units face including gain, bass, treble, and volume in a 3.2” by 4.75” metal enclosure. Additional features include a nice toggle style activator on the face, a Boss style power adaptor on the upper edge, and side mounted input/ouput jacks. While the compact nature of the unit is a nice update of the original, it misses the cosmetic flare of the racing striped metallic green of the original Reverend Drivetrain II.

I auditioned the Drivetrain using an SX SST 57 (strat style) and Highland Royal (335 style) guitars into a VHT Special 6, Tech 21 Trademark 60, and ZT Lunchbox. Tonally, the unit definitely has an Ibanez Tubescreamer lineage with a smooth, midrange rich response delivering moderate levels of overdrive. Unlike the singular tone knob on the Tubescreamer, the Drivetrain’s dedicated bass knob allows one to dial in a much warmer response if desired which I found especially useful in kicking the low end up a notch when using a bridge single coil. On the other hand, the treble knob doesn’t quite have the range I’d like making it difficult to dial in much shimmer or bite seemingly more focused in the upper mids than what I would typically consider treble frequencies. Of course those preferring tonal butter versus cayenne pepper won’t have any issue. Due to the fairly wide ranges of both tone controls, it was easy to tune the Drivetrain complement a slightly driven amp and plays fairly nicely with other pedals. To cap it all off, there’s plenty of raw volume on tap to serve as a boost or to pummel the input of your favorite tube amp.

The Visual Sound Garagetone Drivetrain is a very good option for those seeking a Tubescreamer style overdrive with a bit more tonal versatility, especially considering the very attractive price, a considerable discount versus the Ibanez TS9.

Price: ~$59
Pros: Mid range rich over drive with extra tonal control.
Cons: Would’ve liked just a bit more bite.

Filed Under: Visual Sound, Reviews