The Varidrive by SIB! is a gnarly fully AC powered vacuum tube overdrive. It’s got a real analog growl, pushing that tube to the limits for real distortion.
For such a nicely engineered pedal, they forgot one thing: there’s zero indication when you’ve engaged the effect… I mean, other than screaming overdrive in your ears. But visually, ya got nothing, and during a hard core punk rock gig, it can sometimes be hard to tell. Luckily, SIB! already put an LED on their pedal to indicate it’s getting power. It’s not so hard to change that out for a bicolor LED to indicate power AND when the effect is engaged.
Going back, way back, I found a broken Dunlop GCB-95 Crybaby wah pedal in our jam space. I thought, huh, maybe I could use this if I figure out what was wrong with it. It turned out to be a loose battery clip, easily fixed. Then I thought, huh, sounds okay, what would make it sound better? A few internet searches later, I was led down the rabbit hole into the wild and wooly (more like impractical and laborious) world of modifying effects pedals. With a bit more knowledge under the belt, it’s time reevaluate what I did and look at what is still one of my favorite pedals on my board, the Sewer Bæby.
It’s a little beat up after a some years touring, but the hot rod paint job I gave the Sewer Bæby to distinguish it from yer typical Crybaby still looks alright. Of course none of that matters; it’s the inside that counts, right? Tell that to whomever you set on a blind date with Temple Grandin.
The MXR Phase 90 is kind of the benchmark for phasers. It’s been made famous by being THE phaser for Mr. Eddie Van Halen and a score of others. It’s a four stage phaser with matched jfets, meaning in plain talk that it sounds tits. It’s a smooth sounding phaser with a rich tonality. There are many versions since it was first introduced in the 70s: the original script logo version, the first block letter version, the originals with added LED indicator, and then the many re-issues since the Dunlop company bought the rights to the MXR name. The quality of the version, if you go by general opinion, is almost always commensurate with the age.
I was looking for and older one of these, and finally scored a block logo, non-LED version that I’ve dated as being made around 1978. It’s roughly the same kind Mr. Van Halen likely used. This is one of the “good ones.” I can definitely vouch for the sound, being that my Phase 90 sounds amazing on bass or guitar.