Free the Tone Matt Schofield MS SOV Special Review – Best Blues Overdrive?

Reviewed by:
On August 28, 2013
Last modified:October 6, 2016



A good overdrive pedal is essential for scorching electric blues lead guitar work. Great blues rock players from Stevie Ray Vaughan to modern greats like Warren Haynes, Joe Bonamassa, and Matt Schofield rely on their overdrives of choice to supercharge their distinctive playing styles. And now Free the Tone have teamed up with Matt Schofield to create a signature limited edition overdrive pedal that aims to be the ultimate in great overdrive tone and playability. Is the MS SOV Special the best blues overdrive pedal around? Matt Schofield thinks so. I’ll give you the full story in our Free the Tone Matt Schofield MS SOV Special review.

The Matt Schofield MS SOV Special is based on a very reputable overdrive called the SOV-2. The SOV-2 is the brainchild of master effects designer, Yuki Hayashi, and has garnered a reputation for its harmonically rich overdriven tone. Matt Schofield had already been using the Free the Tone Custom SOV-2 for many years before this special signature version was produced, so it’s only fitting that they would team up to bring the MS SOV Special to the masses.

The main difference in the MS SOV Special over the SOV-2 is the inclusion of Free the Tone’s unique HTS (Holistic Tonal Solution) Circuit which prevents signal degradation when bypassed, a feature exclusive to some of the company’s guitar pedals. This pedal also has a very low signal to noise ratio, making it a quieter overdrive, and provides a fatter and smoother overdrive sound.

Let’s run down the features and get to the real Free the Tone Matt Schofield MS SOV Special review.



Level, Tone, and Gain control knobs.

HTS (Holistic Tonal Solution) Circuit prevents signal loss when bypassed.

Low S/N ratio.

Limited Edition for 2013.

Matt Schofield signature on pedal casing.

Powered by 9-Volt battery or 9VDC power adapter. (adapter recommended as power draw is high at 90mA.)

Visit Free the Tone for more info about the Matt Schofield MS SOV Special.

See the lowest price on eBay.

Sound & Performance:

For this review I went with an American Stratocaster and dialed in a flat, clean amp setting with just the MS SOV Special in my signal chain.

With the knobs of the MS SOV Special set at noon, I hit the footswitch and was greeted to an instant burst of pure overdriven tone. Right away you can tell that the MS SOV Special has a very warm feel with a balanced overdriven tonal range.

From here, the Tone knob of the MS SOV Special lets you sculpt your sound to taste. The Tone knob is perfectly suited to bringing out more highs if needed or coloring your sound with a darker tone. It’s very easy to get the perfect overdriven tone out of the MS SOV Special, great for those who want to plug in and play with minimal fuss.

Free-The-Tone-Matt-Schofield-MS-SOV-Special-Review-Best-Blues-Overdrive-Pedal-03Rolling back the Gain and pushing up the Level delivers a great overdriven boost sound that doesn’t mask your guitar’s inherent character. The MS SOV Special opens up your sound and allows your guitar to bloom with rich harmonics and overtones. There’s a smoothness to the textures this overdrive produces that are always warm, yet never muddy.

Cranking up the Gain control with the Volume pulled back delivers more bite as expected. This pedal can really cut when you need it to with a refined drive sound that really sings. The MS SOV Special provides a smooth saturation that retains clarity even at the highest Gain settings.

By pushing the Level and Gain knobs hard, you can really cause your amp to break up and blend with the drive of the MS SOV Special. This can help you achieve some really great sounds for a very dynamic crunch sound full of the MS SOV Special’s characteristic warmth.

The vote of confidence from Matt Schofield in favor of the HTS Circuit over the true bypass of the SOV-2 should provide an interesting point of discussion for those tone purists who consider true bypass to be the end all of superior guitar tone. While I haven’t spent years on the road with the true bypass SOV-2 to make a conclusive comparison, I can simply attest that this pedal sounds very good when engaged, and my signal sounds as pure as my ears can tell when the MS SOV Special is bypassed.

The MS SOV Special is the culmination of Yuki Hayashi’s years of experience in designing great pedals with the influence of a player that demands no less than exceptional guitar tone. The Matt Schofield MS SOV Special is truly a great overdrive. Get it while you can as this Free the Tone gem is only available throughout 2013.

Let’s see the final result.



The Free the Tone Matt Schofield MS SOV Special is one of the finest overdrives available today. And it won’t be available forever, so check it out while you still can. This pedal is everything a good overdrive should be: warm, dynamic, and musical in every way. The MS SOV Special was customized by a great player and is a real treat for any aspiring blues rock guitarist. And it’s versatile enough for any application where overdrive is needed. If you’re looking for the best blues overdrive pedal, try this one. If it’s the best for Matt Schofield, it may be the best for you, too.

That concludes our Free the Tone Matt Schofield MS SOV Special review. Thanks for reading.


Want to buy the Free The Tone MS SOV?

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Be sure to check out our reviews of the Free the Tone Silky Comp, Free The Tone Flight Time, and Free the Tone Gigs Boson Overdrive!


  1. I’m just wondering if you are selling any of the guitars that the women on the right of the page have just pulled out of their vaginas? Do all guitars come out of ladies’ vaginas or is it these particular brands?

    I’m really interested to know more about the vagina guitars and what they sound like. Unless of course I have misread the image and the women are actually putting the guitars INTO their vaginas, in which case, I’d like to know which are the preferred brands for vagina insertion and whether the guitars sound very different when they are in a person’s vagina or if its just another wacky “lady thing”?

    Any light you could shed on this is appreciated.

  2. Comon we all always have the need for “one more pedal” and this one is good enough not to end up on Ebay 2 days after trying it out

  3. Wow! What a pedal. I live in Texas and love finding new pedals to help me create a sound and vibe that channels classic blues as well as modern blues tones! And that’s what this pedal does!! I hope to get my hands on one ASAP!!!!

  4. Sounds iike a great little thing. Definitely interesting! The capability of tones all across the border sounds very good to me!

  5. First I really like limeted editions and good looking pedals. I know its strange but to me its important. I dont like cheap looking pedals.
    Second I always use OD, mostly the Ibanez one.
    But what I can hear so far from the videos is, that this OD has a very nice midrange compared to my TS.
    So I think this pedal could be on my board for years =)
    And of course: Matt is a great picker and nice guy!

    All the best

  6. I just found this website about six months ago and it’s lead to the three best pedals I have on my pedal board. I love the review on this pedal and how the high gain doesn’t muddy up the tone, just gives it a nice smooth kick. But I know if it’s on this website, it’s a quality product worth owning. If you have the money that is lol

  7. Do not know how to start ! Had a Providence sov-2 and tested the Matt Schofield model too !
    This pedal may be the best overdrive these days……So smooth, natural, so so natural ! Do not colour the sound of your guitar and amplifier, just warmth your tone, an amazing pedal , the one you have a do not wqnt to leave !
    The bad thing is that they do not sell Matt’s finger with the OD pedal !
    But you’ll get a wonderful tone, your tone, but the best you could get from an OD pedal… well with any other OD too ! A super OD !!!

  8. I’d love to hear this through my rig. Love how transparent it is – doesn’t detract from the tone already there at all! Nice. SRV would have approved

  9. Warm and smooth overdrive – this pedal sounds like a keeper. The HTS circuit sounds cool and will definitely spark some conversation about the benefits of true bypass or not. I do like true bypass but have heard and read about the need for buffering if all pedals used are true bypass.I enjoy the product reviews here as well as the chance to win free gear. Keep up the good work.

  10. Sounds like a very nice OD pedal. I bet it would be great for varied mid-gain voicings in the rhythm channel of my 6505. Or maybe for a boost out front. Thanks for the review.

  11. Great Review! Matt has such outstanding tone & feel in his playing. I would love to try the MS SOV Special and see if it would help me attain a little of his sound in my rig.

  12. Great Review! Never heard of this company before, but there are still several more out that are under the radar. I’m about to order the KOT, wonder how it stacks up to that one? Keep the reviews coming. New pedal companies are coming our every day. It helps to be able to read reviews about them instead of dropping loads of cash, then find out it isn’t what you’re looking for.

  13. Would like to hear rhe SOV Special in-person. Is it tube driven? Does Free the Tone make other pedals–tremelo, auto-wah, delay, etc.?

  14. is THE PLACE that I go BEFORE buying ANY pedal. There are so many Manufacturers flooding the Effects Pedal market that anyone searching for that Ultimate Sound can become Totally Overwhelmed with so many choices. It is Such a relief to have you guys to rate and demo the new players in the market. Keep on doin’ whatcha do. Thanks!

  15. Cool Pedal…..Matt is one of my absolute favorite guitarists. I run a Barber Small Fry into a modded TS808 now…..this pedal might just kick the Maxon off my board! Never expected that would happen.

  16. I own the PROVIDENCE SOV-2and had the opportunity to try
    the FREE THE TONE SOV-2 and the special edition MS-SOV and
    honestly i can’t tell the dif..all that said it is a great overdrive and
    i am happy that it is already on my board.

  17. Hi – Not familiar with this line of pedals or your website. I’m going to add both to my knowledge bucket immediately. Great review – I’ve been lookingfor a site doing these kinds of in deptrh reviews (thanks for including sound samples with great players as well) I buy a LOT of pedals and researching them in this manner helps imeasureably.

  18. I can’t get over how organic and dynamic this little pedal sounds. I know it’d sit perfectly on my rig and push the pre-amp in my Matamp hard to get a different driven tone to the amp’s inherent driven tone.

  19. If it good enough for Matt Schofield it is good enough for me! I love overdrive and can’t wait to give this baby a go. I can hear (from listening to the samples)that there is a a rich warmth that I would love to tangle with.

  20. I would love to win this limited edition MS SOV pedal and see for myself if the HTS Circuit stacks up.
    Hopefully it comes with a little of Matt Schofield’s MOJO.
    Keep up the good work Yuki.

  21. I am not familiar with Free The Tone, but I am very interested after hearing the samples. It has a very rich and organic sound and I liked the highs it produced as well. I think I like this better than the Ibanez Tube Screamer or Boss Super Overdrive and would love too own the MS SOV Special. If this is any indication of Free The Tone sound quality, I would definitely buy other pedals from this company. Please consider me for the pedal giveaway as this would give me many years of playing enjoyment. Thank you.

  22. I’ve known of Yoshi’s work for a while now and really appreciate the fact that you guys are giving him the credit he deserves and giving him the exposure that he needs. Your reviews are a godsend to us who don’t have access to these high end products. Through you we can vicariously experience them. And even though no effect can substitute for accurate, controlled and clean playing, they can be a source of inspiration from which to try and get better at it. Great work guys so keep doing what you do for us! All the best!


  23. My goodness, I have never even heard of this pedal, but was intrigued and decided to check out the videos. Wow, I am blown away. I currently have a Timmy, a ZenDrive, a Keeley Blues Driver, and a Paisley Drive. This video makes me want to sell them all and grab this pedal. If the video is any representation of what the pedal can do, I’ll have one sooner or later. Awesome!

  24. Really great review! Showed alot of the great highlights of this pedal! Would really love to someday own one of these bad boys!

  25. Awesome sounding pedal. Clean & bright highs & warm lows. Doesn’t overpower the signal & sounds really good when playing the blues.

  26. Yet another box of great tones that I don’t have the budget for…

    ..but it’s awesome that you’re giving your readers a shot at one though!

    Definitely keeping my fingers crossed for this one.

  27. Great review. I was not familiar with the “Free The Tone” line of pedals so thank you for introducing me to them. I agree with your assessments of the MS SOV Special, particularly your comments regarding the harmonics, bite, and clarity. This is definitely a pedal worth owning. Thank you!

  28. Great. I had thought I was done with the seemingly endless search for the perfect OD when I got my Coloursound Clone. Now I have to go to a stockist to test this baby out.

  29. Very nice demo – I like that it doesn’t have that mid-hump that a tube screamer does. This one sounds like a keeper. Thanks for reviewing.

  30. I wasn’t so sure what to make of this pedal at first. The drive sounded decent enough and I liked the way it really fattened up the tone by giving it an almost compressed feel. Even so, I wasn’t initially pleased with what I was hearing, especially for a pedal in this price range. While the compressed feeling of the sonic character gave more body to the tone, it also seemed to tame the attack of the transient dynamics. I suppose that with some guitars, this would provide a sweet warm tone, but what I don’t like about this is that the harmonics seemed very compressed and the pedal sounded almost lifeless– But then I saw that that’s what the tone knob is for. Cranking the tone knob dramatically impacts the sound of this pedal. What I find interesting is that while it may add the slightest midrange boost, the eq actually changes very little. Rather than simply adjusting the eq curve, it seems to raise the threshold of whatever compression is taking place and richly thickens everything that’s there, especially the harmonic transients, thus expanding the tonality. When Gabriel cranked up the tone knob and started pushing the pedal a bit harder during the YouTube video, things really started to happen. The character of this pedal suddenly changed from somewhat lifeless to fat and dynamic with full and rich enhanced harmonics.

    Gabriel– Great job on the reviews. I would have actually loved to have heard this pedal with a couple of different guitar/amp combinations. I also wish I could have had a .wav file to listen to since it’s hard to hear any subtleties because of YouTube’s compression algorithms. And a question– What was your complete signal chain? It would be great to know what mics and amps you use since that is so much a part of what we hear as well.


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