The Fulltone OCD – In Search of the Holy Grail

Fulltone OCD

Catching That Wave

The “Holy Grail” of overdrive pedals is a lot like that perfect wave that a surfer desperately seeks. Well, good 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), but the OCD is just an incredibly simple little pedal that delivers; it sounds great anytime, anywhere!

That Perfect Driven Sound

One of the things 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 an unrelenting search for.

I think the reason for this is that while a 100% clean guitar is a thing of great beauty for some 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 positive components when it comes to the guitar. And, of course, this all sounds best when in the hands of a qualified professional. Loud / Overdriven guitar is a lot like a really fast sports car; anyone can get in and drive, but only someone who knows what they are doing can handle those curves!

So Near and Yet So Far

Part of the mystique is that middle-ground overdrive that is so elusive. “A lot 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 — 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 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.

Playing Well With the Other Kids

I’ve been using a Fulltone 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 Fulltone OCD can handle 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 and “no muss no fuss.” The drive it gives you is about as transparent as it gets, yet it’s just a little one-pound thing, solid as a rock, with minimal controls, and it plays well with all the other kids on your pedal board. So, if you’re looking for a truly transparent overdrive that sounds great through just about any amp, give the Fulltone OCD a try. I’m quite sure you’ll be impressed with this pedal.

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Ed Malaker Our resident electronics wizard came by his skills honestly — first as an apprentice in his father’s repair shop, later as a working musician and (most recently) as a sound designer for film. His passion for guitar led him to Humbucker Soup, where he continues to decode the wonders of wiring and the vicissitudes of voltage. Ed has never taken his guitar to a shop — he already knows how to fix it.