[review] OGRE TubeHolic Overdrive (by Bieke)

A couple of months ago, Bart told me that -in his never ending search for new pedals- he stumbled upon something special. Something different. He would not tell me more. But it did not take long before he revealed his discovery on FXDB. And I think I'm not the only person who spotted the OGRE pedals here first. Fast forward and Bart handed me a couple of pedals to review. Also, Bart asked me to get on with it and finish a review pronto, before the whole world finds out about these. But I'm the slowest reviewer in the world. So here it is, my fast and furious review of the OGRE Tubeholic.

OGRE Tubeholic OverdriveThe Looks

Funny looking pedal, in a kind of cool way. Or cool looking pedal, in a kind of funny way. I am looking at an alienating robot slash alien face, with blue gloomy eyes, and a forehead that lifts, hinges  and slides forward to reveal 3 controls (the brain section), familiar looking controls, volume, tone, gain. The controls have a nice stiff feel (I like that).

Love it or hate it, it is not your usual Hammond box pedal, in fact, a lot of detail went into design and creation of this oddly shaped pedal. I must say, I quickly gotten used to it and was soon able to forget my initial feeling about it being a bit too much and over the top. I'm used to those Hammond boxes and this is certainly a somewhat outrageous design.

The casing is a die cast aluminium, feels solid, the bottom plate has the familiar Boss footprint, but with an easy access battery compartment (I like that). In- and Output and 9V DC Boss type power plug on the top (I like that too).

There is no footswitch, the idea is to just step on the face (where the mouth is) to engage the pedal, you'll hear the familiar click of a footswitch (true bypass) and another thing you need to become familiar with is you do not see the controls, you're supposed to dial in your settings and close the cover.

Hmmm, because of that, it is not really pedalboard friendly, unless you have a big board or leveled board, it could be comfortably sitting on the top row, it needs a bit of extra space to uncover the controls, if you need to adjust the control settings.

Anyway, everything about the pedal, the packaging (a stylish black and red coated cardboard box) and the whole theme and the styling is quite unique. I can even imagine people putting this in a cabinet display.

Top quality build as well, nothing cheap about this OGRE pedal.

OGRE Tubeholic OverdriveThe sounds

I was afraid I would not like it at all. From the looks of it, I simply imagined it would be too much and over the top for me, that is was more aimed at the industrial types, the heavy types, I couldn't help it, I was generalizing and biased and so I just plugged it in, set the controls to noon and strung a chord...

Well, I was in for a surprise! It sounded nothing like I thought it would. It sounded... phenomenal. It sounded, well, much like a Klon.

And it even got better when I dialed in more sounds. I frantically started twisting the controls and strumming chords and each and every setting I tried sounded phenomenal. This is ridiculous. Is this the perfect OD or what? The Holy Grail? The ultimate overdrive? The last one I'll ever need?

Errr, what a frightening thought. Let's start over. I'm dialing in a clean sound on my Mesa Boogie Mark I (with new tubes), sounds ever so sparkly, set the dials (I turned the gain all the way down), volume and tone at noon and engage the OGRE... only to find out that it does a great clean boost as well, really clean and really great, I like clean boost. And it has plenty of volume (I think everyone likes that) Adding a little gain, it adds a touch of grit, still very transparent sounding, add a little more, more a throaty rasp, a modest saturated natural drive, around noon, a more sweetening and smoother overdrive, still the Mark I sound but now pushed, chords sounding great, very amp like, and with a little more gain, it gets in to more singing overdrive, with added sustain, I cannot help myself and shift to pentatonic blues riffs (I actually hate that)... turning gain all the way up and shifting into Santana mode (what am I doing here)... This is ridiculous.

OGRE Tubeholic OverdriveLet's start over again. So far I did not touch the tone control, it was set at noon and it sounded like the tone settings on my amp, turning counter clockwise adds low end, not like your usual overdrive that just messes with your bottom end, this control really shapes your sound and you can get a bassy, jazzy style overdrive, very natural sounding, or a crispy, spanking treble sound (this was with the gain control set fairly low), and with more gain, it just works like it should, it adds gain but will keep tone, I loved the bottom end on this thing... a tone control that adds low end if needed, has a transparent setting, and adds treble if desired. An extremely  effective EQ  with just a single control... ridiculous!

Starting over again. Cranking the Mark I in overdrive (it is designed to do that and I like it). Engaging the Tubeholic pushed the amp further into well Mark I Deluxe overdrive. Chords ringing out beautifully and dial in gain to get into singing lead tone with natural sustain and musical even harmonics, setting the tone control for more low end or piercing high, still very smooth and pleasing, no harsh overdriven sound, more like having an extra gain channel on your amp. By then, the Tubeholic was sitting on top of my amp and I started thinking It would be a perfect companion for the Mark I (which is a single channel amp).


The Verdict

An outstanding pedal that stands out.

A soft symmetrical clipping low gain overdrive with superb tonal range, smooth natural drive , with low compression, harmonically rich, has  plenty of volume, silent during operation... the eye catching design

All of this made it very hard for me not to like this OGRE Tubeholic, and I tried.

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