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.)
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.
Rolling 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.
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