[review] BJFE Honey Bee Overdrive (by LordRiffenstein)

LordRiffenstein, all-around tone freak and purveyor of great tone.


BJFE stands for Bjorn Juhl Förstärker Elektronik and is basically a 2-man operation. Bjorn Juhl designs and builds the pedals and his wife takes care of the painting etc. These are strictly handbuilt pedals and not to be confused with the Mad Professor pedals that are designed by BJ but not handbuilt. The production is limited and pedal types are distortion, overdrive, fuzz, vibe, compressor and eq.

Honey Bee Overdrive

THE HBOD comes in a pretty standard box but has a special look and feel thanks to the oil-painting and the characteristic lettering on the case. Opening the box you will discover a nice artwork on the back cover and you will see that the circuit board is covered in some sort of neoprene. The pedal has the obvious vol. and drive controls, the 3rd control is called “nature”. This last control is an EQ control but it isn’t like a typical tone control, it works closely with the other 2 controls and although you get the feeling that its range is not big, there’s plenty to tweak the pedal to your taste.

The pedal in use

I was really looking forward to testing this pedal, I had read and heard many great things about it. I also got to play a Mad Professor Sweet Honey pedal once and that sounded great. So the HBOD had a lot to live up to and I can immediately say that it outperformed my expectations. The HBOD is a true OD pedal when used standalone. A lot of OD pedals have a huge range of gain and can get into distortion territory. Usually this makes them less dynamic. The HBOD will do medium overdrive tones, classic rock when using humbuckers but you will need to drive it hard. However, the pedal is extremely dynamic. It lets every nuance of your playing come through. The Nature control works really well in tweaking your tone. The pedal name suggests a sweetness to the tone and you can dial that in easily but you can also get more grid from the pedal turning up the volume and nature.

BJFE pedals are known to stack really well and the HBOD probably is the champion of them all. Running it into another gain pedal OR into your amp set for crunch is simply fantastic. I wouldn’t say the HBOD is the most transparent pedal out there but this is a good thing because it does wonderful things for your tone. There is enough volume on tap to use it as a boost, I ran vol around 2PM, gain at noon and nature just above noon and that setting worked great in front of a number of other pedals or my amp set for a crunch tone. Because of the dynamics, there are a lot of great sounds to be had from your guitar’s controls. Switching between guitars, I did not feel the need to tweak the pedal and as a result I pretty much left it on all the time. The HBOD performed the rare trick of getting a really nice fat smooth sound without sounding nasal so it sounds really pleasing to the ears.

The BJFE HBOD is one of those very special pedals, you have high expectations and it still knocks you of your socks. This is a true boutique pedal in all possible ways, it looks special, it sounds killer. I do have 1 major issue with it though. I have to give it back and that’s killing me!

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