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Seymour Duncan 805 Overdrive Review – Best “Tube Screamer” Overdrive Pedal?

The Seymour Duncan 805 Overdrive is the latest in a series of new pedals from the Santa Barbara-based guitar pickup maker and is inspired by the legendary “Tube Screamer” overdrive. Now I know what you’re thinking, Not another Tube Screamer!” right? Well, you’d be missing out if you dismiss this pedal as just another Tube Screamer clone. There’s an obvious nod to the iconic TS-808 in design and name (805 is also a reference to Santa Barbara’s own telephone area code in case you’re wondering where the numerical variation comes from), but this pedal takes the “Tube Screamer” concept to new sonic frontiers.

The most obvious difference you’ll notice about the 805 Overdrive compared to standard overdrive pedals is its active 3-band EQ controls in place of the generic tone control typically found on overdrive pedals including the TS-808 and TS9 Tube Screamers. For many guitarists who like to use an overdrive to color their tone or create a unique extra channel with their amp, the 805 Overdrive could be the ideal pedal for the job thanks to its additional controls. Also, while the pedal was designed around the original 808 chip that is responsible for that famous “Tube Screamer” sound, Seymour Duncan decided to go with the MC33178 for the 805 Overdrive which they promise yields “superior sonic characteristics along with a lower noise figure and longer battery life.” This all adds up to what could be a new modern classic and perhaps the best “Tube Screamer” overdrive pedal in the modern guitar player’s arsenal. Here’s a rundown of the pedal’s features and then our complete Seymour Duncan 805 Overdrive review.

Seymour-Duncan-805-Overdrive-Review-Best-Tube-Screamer-Overdrive-Pedal-02Features:

Distortion Circuitry: Glass diode, back-to-back stack.

Bypass: True bypass

Gain Control Range: 8dB to 36dB.

EQ Center Frequencies:

• Bass – 90 Hz +/- 11dB

• Mid – 750 Hz +/- 11dB

• Treble – 2.1 kHz +/- 12dB

THD @10mVrms input @ 1 kHz with 12 dB of gain: 0.15%

Noise referred to input: -<-126dBv, 400Hz to 20kHz Max Output before Saturation: 0.6Vrms

Input Impedance: 470k Ohms

Output Impedance: 1k Ohms

Power: 9V battery or external 9 to 18V Regulated DC Adapter (center negative)

Current consumption: 4.5mA

Dimensions: 2.61″ X 4.90″ X 1.45″

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Sound & Performance:

There’s just something about the “Tube Screamer” that has made it an endearing classic over the years. That lyrical midrange and smooth saturation have been the source of many famous lead guitar tones for decades. While there are countless “Tube Screamer” variations and an extensive family of imitators and derivative pedals, let me go ahead and lay it down for you. The Seymour Duncan 805 Overdrive is a top tier pedal that can sit alongside any of the best “Tube Screamer” style overdrive pedals you’ve ever played while perhaps surpassing just about anything else around in terms of sheer versatility, playability, and sound quality.

There are 3 general uses of an overdrive pedal that are most common in my experience: a clean to slightly overdriven boost, an overdriven/saturated lead tone, and a crunchier rhythm tone variation. Many overdrives excel in some of these areas, but the 805 Overdrive really shines in any context.

When cutting the Drive all the way down, the Level control provides up to 8dB of volume for a subtle boost that has a bit of mid-range emphasis. The magic here is that you can use the active 3-band EQ to hone in on certain frequencies to achieve your ideal sound. This gives the pedal a cool preamp vibe, and a slight boost of the Drive knob will bring in more harmonics and sparkly grit to your tone.

As you start cranking the Drive knob further, you’ll begin to enter overdrive territory where you’ll find your perfect saturated lead tone. Legendary blues rock guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan is one of the most notable “Tube Screamer” users and employed the effect throughout his career to achieve his searing lead tones. The 805 Overdrive presents a similar vibe that’s great for blues, rock, or any style that calls for superbly playable lead saturation. The added bonus here is that you can boost or cut your mids and further tweak the highs and lows with the dedicated EQ controls. It blows my mind that most overdrive pedals still stick with a stale old “Tone” knob, but this difference really sets the 805 Overdrive apart in a crowded market of clones and rehashes of the same tired formulas. Yet even if you just keep all the EQ knobs flat at their notched noon positions, you’ll get a balanced overdrive tone that is harmonically rich, warm, and surprisingly amp-like. And this is where my favorite aspect of this pedal comes to light…

The 805 Overdrive is perhaps the most pleasing overdrive I’ve ever used for adding an instant second channel to a clean tube amp. The pedal’s 3-band active EQ adds supreme flexibility for crafting an entirely different sound when activating the pedal. The pedal’s gain range extends to reasonably distorted levels making it suitable for lower to mid-gain rock guitar tones. And you might be surprised at the heavier tones you’ll achieve when diming the Drive fully clockwise, especially if you’re already playing with a little crunch in your sound. Boosting the Bass and Treble while keeping the Mid knob low result in some thick walls of chunk that retain clarity and definition with a very low noise floor. As many heavier rock and metal guitarists have discovered, too much gain can mud up riffs that demand maximum precision and tightness, but the 805 Overdrive could be your secret sonic weapon for adding maximum girth to your sound and retaining an organic tone. The Bass adds massively tight low-end while the Mid knob is carefully tuned to 750 Hz for precision sculpting of your all-important midrange when playing heavy. And yes, you can use the 805 Overdrive at various Drive levels in front of an already distorted amp to really dial in your tone from the pedal, making is an essential element of your signature sound. Who would’ve guessed that beneath it’s 50’s inspired sea green paint-job would lie what a beast of a guitar pedal?

The Seymour Duncan 805 Overdrive rocks… hard! Let’s see the final result.

Seymour-Duncan-805-Overdrive-Review-Best-Tube-Screamer-Overdrive-Pedal-03

Overall-Rating-5.0

The Seymour Duncan 805 Overdrive is one of the best “Tube Screamer” inspired overdrive pedals available on the market. The clarity and definition of this pedal along with its incredible warmth and harmonic response really make it something special. The 3-band active EQ is the icing on the cake and will let you integrate this pedal into any rig for any style of playing. It also excels at adding an instant second channel to a clean amp. From classic crunch to searing blues rock leads and even some heavy metal chunk, the 805 Overdrive is a force to be reckoned with and a pedal that you absolutely must try if you’re looking for your next overdrive.

That concludes our Seymour Duncan 805 Overdrive review. Thanks for reading.

 

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