Donner Blues Drive Overdrive Pedal Review
This product is Donner’s take on the classical electronic vintage overdrive pedal, known for its blues roots – warmer, brighter, and smoother tones. We’ve taken interest in this one, sensing power from quite a small source. Here’s what we can say about the Donner Blues Drive Pedal.
Donner Blues Drive Details & Specs
- Classic aluminum alloy build for stability and durability (blue)
- LED-powered indicator for operating modes
- Three controls – True Bypass, Gain, and Mode Toggle
- Two-tone modes – Hot and Warm
- Input impedance: 520 ohms, output: 12k ohms
- Powered by a 9v AC adapter
- 240 grams with the box
Donner’s alleged take on the popular BOSS BD-2 Blues Driver is the Donner Blues Drive, which is basically a more transparent Tube Screamer. At roughly $29.99, it has a flatter EQ response but is a good choice for an entry level overdrive pedal. Depending on how pinched you want the signal chain to be, the bypass and two-tone modes can be handy for boosting the overdrive, turning the gain up or down, or using it mainly for a signal boost.
Like the BD-2, its aluminum housings feel somewhat cheap, so you might need to handle it more gently than you do with your other pedals. The “hot” setting fills the bright sounds that you normally expect from an overdrive pedal, while warm allows you to be as versatile as you can get. Some say it might take a while for you to dial in the right tone, but it should really work well with or without a compressor. For the slow blues lead work you want a “warm” feel which can easily be achieved.
Expect your usual range of tone with this one – tube pinches to full-on bright sizzling sound. It’s a great compact addon for your pedalboard, that is if you’re okay with the soft switching system. The bypass mode can be activated by pushing, the small toggle can be switched up or down. The gain knob is like any other normal one from other pedal types, and whether you’ll like how much gain it can provide or not depends on the gain quality you’re used to.
Perhaps the main downside to this pedal is the tendency of its overdrive to get stuck in one sound. According to some users, the knob doesn’t really provide any control over the midrange, and the hot mode can sometimes sound muddy. This may warrant some sort of extra technical help, which may require to be extra creative or resourceful.
Is it for you?
Truth be told, you could probably get a better overdrive for a few more dollars. This doesn’t mean you can’t get anything from this one, though. There’s enough reason why this pedal is worth the try, so take it from us – for $29.99 and for your blues needs, the Donner Blues Drive is the right pedal to get you started.