The Fulltone OCD – In Search of the Holy Grail

Fulltone OCDAn incredible palate of overdrive sounds in one little pedal

One of the aspects that seems to be particularly high on the list of priorities for guitarists is how to achieve the perfect driven sound. There are so many overdrive / distortion pedals out there. You could spend all day and night just trying them all out to see which one sounds best. Although guitars, amps and even pickups are often candidates for “Best of the Best” ranking among guitarists, the overdrive pedal seems to hold a special place in our hearts as a critical component to our sound and an item that we keep ourselves in constant “Search” more for.

I think the reason for this is that while 100% clean guitar is a thing of great beauty for certain styles of music, a certain amount of drive or saturation is desirable in most situations. If for no other reason, the power-tube compression, the warmth and thickness, all aspects of saturation are generally a positive thing when it comes to guitar. Keeping in mind, this all sounds best when in the hands of a qualified professional. Loud / Overdriven guitar is alot like a really fast sports car; anyone can get in and drive, but only someone who knows what they are doing can get us home alive!

Part of the mystique is also that middle-ground overdrive that is so elusive. “Alot of Overdrive” is a very easy sound to get as long as it’s a decent pedal. But that “in-Between” sound is not easy. Just a little drive, but not too much. When you think of players such as Stevie Ray Vaughan, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Robbie Robertson or Albert Collins, what you have is a tone that is not really distorted, but it is big, warm, and somehow a little “Pushed”. Regardless of what you may think of their technique, these guitarists, and many others, have a tone that is 100% identifiable and deceptively difficult to emulate.

The “Holy Grail” of overdrive pedals is alot like a surfer who seeks the perfect wave; we desperately seek it, but hope that we never find it. Bad news folks, I think I may have found it. The Fulltone OCD is one hell of a little pedal. Granted, there are other ones out there that offer an actual 12AX7 tube, and pretty serious tone-shaping (for example, the Radial Tonebone), the OCD is just an incredibly simple little pedal that sounds great anytime anywhere.

I’ve been using an OCD exclusively for three years now and this little sucker has never let me down. It plays well with all types of amps; Marshall, Fender, Boogie. In-fact, I’ve plugged this thing into a few solid-state amps and been pleasantly surprised.

My only regret is that I have not made it my business to get one of the proprietary Fulltone AC wall-warts (negative center pin, so you gotta either use theirs, or know how to convert one of the BOSS adapters). From what I understand the OCD can handle anything from 9-18 volts. And, the more voltage you use, the more headroom you get.

I think my love affair with this pedal is mostly driven by the balance of tone vs. “No fuss no muss”. The drive it gives you is about as transparent as they get, yet it’s just a little 1 pound little thang, solid as a rock, minimal controls, and it plays well with all the other kids on your pedal board. If you are looking for a really transparent overdrive that sounds great through just about any amp, give the Fulltone OCD a try. I’m very sure you will be impressed with this pedal.