For an overdrive pedal to be considered a classic in today’s immense world of boutique gear is a feat in and of itself. To be considered a great pedal in a product line as revered as Fulltone is something of an entirely different animal. Think about the gear that has come from this Michael Fuller: the Deja Vibe, the Fulldrive (1, 2 n’3) and the even the ’69 and 70’s Fuzzes…and many of them have a highly desirable status among collectors. So today, we are going to look at yet another design that has become so sought after that Web articles have been dedicated to deciphering its many versions: The Fulltone O.C.D..
So what makes this design so different than the hundred other “amp-like, dynamic” overdrives out there? Other than a curiously labeled “LP/HP” Switch the usual controls are all accounted for: Volume Tone and Drive adorn the solid, compact enclosure. A smart design feature of the O.C.D. is the 4 knurled knobs that easy unscrew to access the 9V connect inside. While they may be easy to lose they seem to stay put as long as they are put back where they belong. No more lost battery doors or broken plastic trays to worry about. An interesting bezel adorrns a red L.E.D. status indicator on the top of a simple two piece chassis. Again, like many Fulltone builds, it is solid.
Easy on the Ears…
The range of gain the O.C.D. offers is fairly admirable: it can get soft enough for warm, sultry overdrive to dirty enough for full out Hard Rock and beyond. With hot pickups you can even get into compressed liquid Lead Tones with complex overtones when paired with the right amplifier. With a warm (likely tube) amp, you can even use it as a standalone distortion. Not the only dirt box to do so, but it does do it fairly effortlessly. The increased range afforded by the HP/LP switch only adds to this versatility, acting as sort of a subtle compressor/expander whilst increase the range of gain. The sensibly voiced tone control helps make the O.C.D. sit comfortably within many a rig. Though many pedals have the capability to do so, it should be said again about the O.C.D.: judicious use of its few controls can elicit many tones, and they all seem to fit its intended rig with minimal effort. While not crystal clear in transparency, it does seem to get along with just about every amp it was paired up with.
There must be more…
So it has a decent tone, is solidly built and has a distinguished lineage. What really sets this pedal apart?
It’s response…while many pedals can be called dynamic, and a few other can be called amp-like, when set just right into an amplifier that itself is set just to the edge, teetering on the precipice between fat, warm cleans and thick, dirty grit, it feels like it is truly connected to the circuit of the amp. As a matter of fact, it isn’t really Dynamics that set it apart as much as the rich tones that integrates itself so well in to your signal chain, and not just your tone: it can get very close to your original rig’s tone but the actual effect seems like it was designed to be part of it. It modifies it just enough to make it stand out. Not so much as you will miss it when it is off as much as you KNOW when it is ON.
And that is truly where I have found the HP/LP control really makes things happen: take a hour or so and match the pedal to your amplifier, and vice versa, and you won’t be disappointed. Electrically, there may be little to its actual adjustment to the circut, but it can make the “breaking point” of your overdriven tone much more useable. And more accessible. If you can’t seem to find the right amount of “give” betwixt clean and drive, this could be the key that unlocks your rig. Again, many pedals have proven their merit in the ability to open up the OD threshold but it seems to do it much more ease than many of them, and just seems to have a much livelier response in doing so.
And this brings us to the almost sad truth about the O.C.D.: for the many, many fans of this pedal few have explored this tragically overlooked capability: seemingly adding sensitivity to your rig wihtought putting you face first into overdrive. Balancing this out however, is the ridiculous street price. For what some other boutique overdrives go for these days, you could easily purchase 2-3 used O.C.D.s…and you can use this OD as a distortion too…
Faults? Well, as far as a design goes, there are a few amplifiers that just can’t seem to get along with the O.C.D.. Try as you might, that Tone control is either going to be too Bassy or too spikey. Again, this can be said of many other overdrives but it just seems that much more apparent with a circuit of such versatility and range. And in a pinch, meaning at a gig, if you are running batterites, those knurled knobs can get lost pretty quickly. It does make a good pocket pedal, so you may be on battery more often than you think.
Dirt cheap dirt that with a big, wide voice that can seemingly expand the distortion threshold of your rig. Easy tone, solid build and easy to find. Like an overcooked steak, well done.