Monday, August 13, 2012

Pigtronix FAT Drive

Pigtronix FAT Drive - Review

A few days ago, I picked up the new FAT Drive and Philosopher’s Rock from Pigtronix. I loved the Philosopher’s Tone, so I was eager to try the Rock. I decided to try the Fat on more of a whim. I’m glad I did.

According to the Pigtronix website, “The FAT Drive is an all analog tube sound overdrive. The FAT Drive’s multiple cascaded gain stages enable you to nail sounds ranging from bluesy overdrive to rich saturation, all while retaining musical dynamics and the original character of your instrument.”

That’s pretty much dead on.
Playing the FAT, I immediately thought of a list of other three-letter words that can be used to describe the sound and feel.

AMP – The FAT responds like a good tube amp. Touch the strings lightly and you get clean tones with just an edge of hair on them. DIG in and you get rich grind and gain. Crank the gain on the pedal and you can use the volume knob on your guitar to go from clean to mean and everything in between.

CUT – EQ adjustments on the FAT come courtesy of a variable low pass filter. With the tone knob all of the way clockwise, the filter is out of the circuit and you have a tone that is bright without being harsh. With my Reverend Roundhouse (LP type guitar) on the neck pickup, and the tone control wide open, the FAT delivered a singing lead sound that had just the right treble content for standing out in a dense mix. Rolling the tone back to one o’clock makes for a nice thick rhythm sound, perfect for rock rhythm sounds. And switching to the bridge pickup with the tone and noon, is a beautiful amp-like crunch.

RIP - Flicking the “more” switch up from here brings on a boat-load more gain and sustain but still retains punch and clarity. I’m mostly an “indie rock and alt/country player” these days, but this sound had me immediately rocking the intro of Sweet Child O’ Mine (and channeling the 8th grade me who spent an afternoon some 20 years ago learning the part and rocking it through an Ibanez Roadstar II and a crappy Gorilla amp).

With the Tele, the cut knob did a great job of keeping the bridge pickup from getting harsh, all the while adding a great gritty twang. And in low-gain settings, it had me playing Remedy by the Black Crowes. While the FAT sounds amp-like, it doesn't sound like a specific amp. There's something about the way it transitions so smoothly into distortion that makes me think AC30 or Fender Tweed Deluxe, but it's more of a feel thing than a tone thing.

I'll be honest, I was having so much fun with the Roundhouse and Tele, that I barely played my Strat or P90 guitar through the FAT. With the strat, it adds a really nice FAT drive. And with the P90's, you can dial in a great thick meaty tone that is great for leads and riffs. In short, the FAT allows the sound of each guitar to shine through.

As far as combing with other pedals. The FAT performed well in front of and following various pedals. With light drive, and following a germanium fuzz face, the FAT helped the fuzz to cut a little better. Boosting a  "Marshall in a Box" type pedal, the FAT created a more natural sounding drive from the "Marshall."

It’s a saturated (pun intended) market for overdrive pedals out there. But if you’re in the market for a great sounding and versatile drive or just need a new flavor, I can’t recommend the FAT highly enough. It’s one of the more natural sounding overdrive pedals I’ve come across in a while. GET one.


  1. When it comes to overdrive, I've been playing my Xotic BBPreamp for 3 years now and it seems I can't just get tired of it, but I've been curious about the FAT Drive for quite some time and after reading your review I decided to give it a try. I'll be flying to Ft. Lauderdale from Italy next tuesday visiting a friend: my FAT Drive is already there waiting for me.
    Thanks for your reviews. :)

  2. Hey there - glad you enjoyed the review. I look forward to hearing your thoughts. I have a few other things in the queue for review that you might want to check out while you're in the states. I'm loving the Cusack Screamer Fuzz Bass and Tap-A-Scream. And I just picked up a Subdecay SuperNova Overdrive. It's has a perfectly voiced three-band eq section. And I've fallen in love (again) with the ZVex Mastotron.

  3. That's tempting but I think I'm done with pedals since I also got a Fulltone DejaVibe from PrymaxVintage. I still have to step on the plane and I'm already done with my budget...; I know this is sick... ;) Looking forward to your next reviews!

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Hello again Philip, I'm dropping by with some personal feedback about the FAT Drive.
Actually, to my big surprise, after having extensively played it for the last three days, I have to admit that I haven't really liked it that much so far.
I've tested it with a range of different guitars (a Stratocaster, an SG, a '65 Silvertone), a couple of amps, and I've also switched the powering a couple of times from 9 to 18V to check whether the more headroom of the latter option could do me some good. Not been lucky.

It's too "muddy", too dark and "thick" for my personal tastes. With the high-gain setting (switch up) I even find it almost unusable.
To be honest, I need to specify that I haven't unleashed it in no live situation or not even in the studio, up until today I've been noodlin' with it only at home pushing my Peavey Classic '30 not over 3 in volume.

Next week I'll bring the pedal to rehearsal and want to test it at higher volume in a head+cabinet situation, maybe I've been using the wrong approach until now.
Anyway, I've already found someone who would love to trade it if I really end up not liking it for good. That's the fun thing about pedals… :) I'll keep you posted!

Oh, by the way, I've recently made a huge deal for an old and funny-looking Ibanez DML10, a modulation delay with some chorus and echo-like options which I've been looking for for quite some time. Don't think I'll eventually put it in my pedal board but I have a soft spot for those weird looking japanese boxes from the '80s, can't help it...

  6. I agree that the high gain setting is way over the top. I prefer it at the lower gain settings. I agree that it's thick, but it isn't dark or muddy in my experience. The other guitarist/singer in my band is currently using it (I'm back on my Sparkle Drive) and it sounds great with filtertrons into an Orange Dual Terror, but that's a really bright setup to begin with. Although, I wouldn't consider the Classic 30 a dark amp by any means. Do you still have the stock speaker in it? I used to have the Classic 50. I sold that when I bought my Reverend Goblin.

    And that DML10 sounds cool. I also have a soft spot for some of the lesser known 80's pedals. I'd love a Boss Slow Gear and a Super Distortion Feedbacker just for silliness.

  7. Alain Lafortune, CanadaJanuary 16, 2013 at 1:45 PM

    I must admit that in the first couple of days after received as a gift, I was disappointed. But after a couple of more days, my god I fell in love with it, the more I use it the more I find it versatile.

    Now, it is true that when using hi-gain setting with the neck pickup (strat) and playing on low string, it is muddy. But who plays full gain on the neck pickup anyway? I found that low gain gives a nice gritty blues feeling on the neck pickup, play with picking dynamic and magic comes up.

    With middle and bridge pickup this thing becomes an animal on hi-gain especially with a 9v adapter and setting the tone between 12 o'clock and 3 o'clock.

    So far, I love it on my Peavey Classic 30 Clean channel.