SP+ Overdrive by TL Pedals (with demo)

If you’re into overdrives, and pushing your amp to new levels of brilliance, TL Pedals’ SP+ JFET true bypass will not disappoint. The name of this pedal comes from another in the TL collection, the Silver Pony (which has a similar design/concept as the original Klon), but with some serious pluses. First, you get a clean boost, which has to be one of the cleanest I’ve heard, with zero tone coloring to my ears. It is not a massive boost; turning it full up makes a noticeable difference, but nothing that would cause your signal to clip and cause extraneous noise. I’ll get into the ‘sound’ of this pedal later. There’s also a dual-clipping option, which you can bypass. The Germanium hard clipping incorporates D9E NOS Russian clippers, thus producing a very nice medium grain and rich result; it tends to be my favorite (although it depends on the amp). The Silicon asymmetric high-headroom clipping using two different silicon diodes, thus producing a more subtle finer grain, and has a sharper attack. With these added features combined, TL Pedals integrated the Silver Pony with two of its other pedals, the Gold Klone and the KingKlon. Hence, you do get a lot of pedal for the money. Also, there are separate clean and dirt controls to create the perfect mix.

Now, onto the most important thing, the sound. The SP+ is right up there as a favorite overdrive in my studio. Fundamentally, it does an incredible job at retaining an amp’s original characteristics and personality. Even when you crank the Dirt on the SP+, a Fender amp still sounds like a Fender… a Vox like a Vox… a Marshall like a Marshall, etc. And since this is a low to medium gain pedal, it works beautifully with high-gain amps, particularly in creating those added harmonics and note definition. The Dirt (gain) of this pedal is exceptional, as it can be barely noticeable or fairly raunchy, without adding hardly any saturation (unless cranked fully). The SP+’s dirt has a fine to somewhat medium grain - neither thin nor boisterous – very middle ground, which is why it likely works well with so many amps and does not change their underlying sound. On a clean amp, the Dirt can be relatively low, but accepts full-bore gain very well, although with very dirty amps I prefer the knob around 10-o’clock. The Clean boost is subtle, but it makes a difference in how it makes an amp more commanding, but also how it blends perfectly with the Dirt. With rhythm you only need a little Clean (9-10 o’clock) or none at all if preferred, but up around 1-3 o’clock it makes lead guitar sing with some very nice sustain and when combined with the Dirt. The Tone knob offers a very usable range, whether all the way down, all the way up or somewhere between. The EQ range is not exaggerated, and so, you can set it in most places for good results. Finally, as stated, you simply can have an OD by bypassing the clipping options, which sounds very good on its own, and may be preferred by those playing a cleaner and more natural tone. Conversely, both the germanium and silicon settings produce very complimentary tone differences, but still result in very smooth transitions from the bypass setting. In other words, you can hear the differences among bypass, germanium and silicon, but without overstatement.

Other features include Alpha pots and stomp switch, Neutrik jacks, Lumberg DC jack (regular power supply with negative center), solid aluminum knobs and a 1590B Enclosure professionally powered coated and printed in the USA. At the time of writing this review, the SP+ retails for $165 Canadian, which makes it an exceptional bargain for US customers and with the current exchange rate. For Canadian customers, this is a very typical price, and even at the regular $199 price tag, it still should be a serious consideration (particularly when compared to the price of a Klon!). In sum, different guitarists like different overdrives for various reasons, whereas I think the SP+ is one of those pedals that will please a majority of players.