Monday, 5 January 2015

Donner Blues Drive Overdrive Review

The Donner Blues Overdrive is a cheap (possibly Chinese?) copy pedal. Many of the Donner pedals seem to be copies of the Mooer pedals so you may think this is possibly a copy of the Mooer Blues Mood pedal (http://www.mooeraudio.co.uk/p/mooer-blues-mood?pp=24)

For video reviews on the pedals, check out video reviews from the same person:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8ufhjpAAcY  (Donner pedal)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5G15IMGTbj0

From these reviews you'll hear the two pedals are very different beasts. I think the Donner pedal sounds a bit more bluesy to be honest. The Mooer has more of an overdriven edge and resonance to it (to my mind!)

Overview of the Donner Blues Overdrive

OK so an overview of the pedal. It's supposed to be true bypass and having played it, I see no reason to doubt that. Haven't opened up the insides though! I played this in line with a couple of old Behringer pedals which then killed the tone... Back to just playing the Donner and things cleaned up and the tone returned.



On the top there's a toggle switch for 'hot' and 'warm'. I must admit that playing this, I leave the pedal on warm. The 'hot' isn't a particularly nice tone. According to the Donner info the hot setting, 'enlarges the sound to get the tightened electromagnetical sound'. Certainly the sound is not as warm as the, er, 'warm' setting! I think it sounds a wee bit nasty which may appeal to you!

However, the warm setting is excellent. The sound is quite warm and bluesy. It's not transparent like say the Visual Sound Open Road and it doesn't respond to the volume or clean up with the volume on the guitar, but for £20 you wouldn't expect that. It's not as wide-ranging a pedal as the Boss Blues Driver but again it's not meant to and you get what you pay for.

The tone switch makes a big difference to the sound. When it's around zero it sounds muffled more than bassy. When it's on full, it obviously ups the treble and the hum as well - but it sounds pretty good to be honest.

The Donner is powered by the usual 9V power. I use my 1 Spot power plug with this no probs (this power can power several small pedals). The dimensions of the pedal are 95mm (length) by 48mm (height) by 34cm (width, including the jack inputs). I basically got this to pedal simply to fit into a small pedal board!



The best setting I found is with the toggle on 'warm',  the tone in and around the 12 o'clock position and the 'level' setting around 2-3pm.

I did a very basic audio recording as this may help you! Recording is with a Fender Blacktop using middle pickup. The amp is Fender Blues Junior with tubes from Watford Valves and a Greenback speaker in. The volume and master are around 2. Middle / Treble / Bass are central-ish...

Basic Audio Samples - just G and C chords

First sample - Warm setting. Tone on zero. Level around 3 o'clock. Gain around 12 o'clock

Second sample - Warm setting. Tone at 12. Level around 3 o'clock. Gain around 12 o'clock

Third sample - Warm setting. Tone on full. Level around 3 o'clock. Gain around 12 o'clock

Fourth sample - Warm setting. Tone at 12. Level around 3 o'clock. Gain on full.

Fifth sample - Warm setting. Tone on full. Level around 3 o'clock. Gain on full.

Donner1.mp3


Sixth sample - High setting. Tone at 12. Level around 12 o'clock. Gain around 12 o'clock

Seventh sample - High setting. Tone on full.. Level around 12 o'clock. Gain on full

Eighth sample - High setting. Tone on full. Level at full. Gain around 12 o'clock

Donner2.mp3


(Sorry, forgot to do the high setting on full gain! Apologies also for not matching audio levels, but the high setting is probably a quarter of a dial louder in volume than the warm setting)

Update September 2015 - the nut on the jack input had come loose, despite rarely being used so this was tightened. Having used this a bit more, it's great for what it is but just don't expect a Fulltone OCD sound to come out of it! Definitely better than (for example) the stock overdrive sounds that come out of a Zoom G3X (in my opinion). Not as good as the Zoom G5N overdrives though. Have since stopped using this pedal - doesn't come close to the EHX Glove that I bought!

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