Guitarsystems is the co-operation between Paul Lenders and Ad Van Dongen. Paul probably doesn't need an introduction as is the man behind a lot of stellar pedalboards and racks. He's one of the leading builders in Europe with a lot of experience. Ad is the electronics wizard of the 2 and the guy coming up with the design of these pedals. They started off with a BufferTool and have since expanded their range with fuzz and boost pedals. The 2 latest additions to the range are the VibeTool and this DriveTool.
The DriveTool comes in a standard enclosure that is painted in a green color. Don't be fooled though to think this is a Tubescreamer clone. You immediately notice the big Paul-switch. This switch was designed by Paul Lenders and features on all his products and is extremely durable. There are 3 controls on this pedal. Volume and Drive do not need an explanation, the T.M.F. control is not your typical tone control but it works really well. The build quality is top notch!!
The pedal in use
The DriveTool has been in the works for a couple of years. I got to play one of the very first prototypes a couple of years ago and you could tell it was a work in progress. It wasn't there yet but already had some great tones. FFWD to this year's Musikmesse and the new DriveTool gets its official introduction. I got to play it there and could tell that this has now become a different animal, or should I say beast? Paul and Ad were kind enough to let me review this pedal.
What the guys from Guitarsystems have done is build the illegal love-child of two of the most sought-after and highly regarded pedals out there: the Klon Centaur and the Way Huge Red Llama. They have researched these pedals, combined them with their own little twist. What you end up with is a very versatile, extremely responsive drive pedal. I'm not a fan of the Red Llama, it doesn't work well for me but this is something different!
When I first plugged it in, using my 1973 JMP Bass, I got almost literally blown away. Even at moderate volumes, this pedal can give you a real thump in the chest. There's a certain attack to this pedal that makes it stand out. When testing it at home, I was really digging it but the pedal absolutely came alive when playing it in a band/gig situation. It really sits well in the mix and there are so many tones you can get from it. It responds really well to different guitar and you can get the most out of your picking dynamics and the controls on your guitar.
Although called the DriveTool, you can use it as a booster and get the advantage of the extra dynamics it brings to the sonic table. Personally, I preferred to use it as a base crunch tone and boost the DriveTool for a lead tone. I tried a couple of different pedals in front of the DriveTool with great success and massive tone as a result. It's hard to compare to other pedals because it's so different and that could be a double-edged sword in the guitar world but I urge you to check this one out!
This pedal should come with 2 warnings. First of all, it will make you look different at all the over-compressed, overhyped pedals and make you wonder why. But most importantly, it will make you stand out in the mix loud and clear, so it should warn you that you better have your act together. The Guitarsystems DriveTool is not for the faint of heart but you will get back what you put into it. Are you up to that?
- More info: Paul Lenders Guitarsystems DriveTool Junior