Beauty That's Far More Than Skin Deep
Now and then a pedal comes along that simply ticks all the boxes; the Bondi Effects Sick As Overdrive is just one of those pedals. Jon Ashley from Bondi Effects has made a big splash in the boutique effects scene with this fantastic pedal, and it has certainly become one of my personal favourites. So what's so good about this sea-foam hued box of tone?
Hey Good Looking!
The first thing you notice with this pedal, is its stunning good looks. Thanks to the incredible design flair of White Flag Studio, the visual attractiveness of this unit is among the best on the market. Clean and funky; simple and elegant - the kind of aesthetics that stand out on any board.
Another part of the attractiveness of this pedal is the quality of the build and the various parts. All the jacks are great quality, the paint has a good durable thickness and finish to it, and the knobs and switches just simply feel great to operate. The footswitch is a silent switch too, with a beautifully nice smooth action, and the knobs are just the perfect choice for the look of the pedal.
Fire It Up
Immediately on plugging into this puppy, it becomes quite evident how wildly versatile it is. Every setting on it sounds great. As with any pedal it’s great to start with the dials around noon, and this yields a really sweet overdrive right off the bat. Articulate, open, textured, harmonically rich - just some of the superlatives that can be used to describe the tone. Being loosely based on the mythical Klon overdrive it has a similar throaty mid-focused tone to it, while still being quite transparent. For my tastes though, the Sick As is a little more balanced in its overall tone.
Playing around with the gain knob shows just how much drive is on tap. It goes from super sweet clean boost at zero with an even sweep all the way up to a transparent medium gain drive on the bottom toggle settings, and almost high gain on the top toggle setting. The top toggle setting is also a bit more compressed, yet still has an open nature to it. Something to note is the gain control is actually a blend, rather than being strictly a gain level. This makes for really clear note definition even in chords at high gain, as the clean signal is always present.
The overdrive is only half of this beast though! Turn the gain knob right down, and the volume and active bass and treble controls see the Sick As become an incredible clean boost and EQ. If there’s one gripe people have with the pedal, it's the lack of mid frequency control. However this is a moot point - as Jon Ashley explained to me, due to the interactive nature of the volume, bass and treble, using the volume control and boosting the bass and treble effectively works to scoop the mids (or boost the other way)! The bass and treble are extremely useful and well tuned with a wide sweep; the bass goes from zero to a nice and tight bottom end at maximum, and the treble is never shrill.
The volume control is the magic dial on this pedal though, and it makes a good amp (in this case my beloved Vox AC15HW1 with retrofitted Celestion alnico blue and NOS tubes) sound just simply stunning, bringing the best out of the preamp. It also sounds fantastic into cleaner Fender type amps; in fact we haven't heard it sound bad through any amp! Unity on the volume is around 11-12 o’clock, and I personally prefer it around 1 o’clock. I normally use my Sick As at the end of a gain stage as an EQ and tone sweetener, with other drives stacked into it. One good example is the Emerson Em-Drive which sounds phenomenal stacked into the Sick As, but every drive we've tried into it sounds great. In a nutshell, it's just a fantastic platform for stacking!
It's All In the Name
Does it really do justice to its name 'Sick As'? I truly think so, and many happy users will tell you so too. You can check it out on Dead Letter Circus's latest album, out really soon - they were so blown away with how good the Sick As sounded that they used it on a lot of their guitar tracks! With the Sick As you really do get a lot of bang for your buck as it covers a lot of ground; from fantastic clean boost and active EQ, to incredibly articulate and harmonically rich light to medium overdrive.
If this review doesn't convince you that the Sick As lives up to its name, then perhaps it's time to try one for yourself? Find out what all the fuss is about here!
- Clean boost/overdrive
- Very dynamic and natural, responsive to your pick attack or volume knob
- Gain knob serves a dual purpose as a blend control between clean boost and overdrive, and controlling the amount of gain
- Internally boosted to 18 volts for maximum headroom and clarity
- Two unique voices of organic, transparent overdrive!
- Powerful active tone-stack, capable of 15dB of boost or cut!
- Soft touch bypass switching
- Current consumption 20mA
Written by Rodger van Raalte
Owner and director of Signal Chain
"The pedal cabinet is the best part of any music store"
Photo courtesy of White Flag Studio