Discovering new pedal manufacturers is always a pleasure here at Pedal of the Day, and we’ve got another rad one for you today. Straight outta NOLA, Retroactive Pedals’ first offering is a fuzz/overdrive effect that has both aesthetic and sonic wonders for everyone. Loaded with options, the Designated Driver is easy to use and fun to dial in.
Designed to be of the “Marshall” sound when strumming chords and going for lead riffs, the Designated Driver is pretty intuitive with two main controls, Volume and Thickness. They did, however, decide to include a few interesting features for experimentation.
Half of the circuit was designed around an octave fuzz, feeding into an overdrive circuit, the input transformer gives a “buzzy” and loud sounding fuzz when the Thickness control is at 50%. When Thickness control is at 100% there’s more bass response and less octave fuzz from the transformer. Rolling the thickness control down limits the drive function, and in conjunction with the volume and tone controls on the guitar, can really bring out some subtle overdrives tones if the volume of the amp, or pedal is turned louder.
The Fuzz setting no the first toggle switch routes a resistor and capacitor to ground from the clipping diodes for slight breakup. However, when that switch is flipped to Switch 2, the right switch taps from the clipping diodes to something else for a different sound. The Drive setting on the second toggle is simply the circuit from the clipping diodes without any resistors or caps to ground, this is a slightly cleaner sound than the “fuzz” sound, but very noticeably different if you listen carefully. This setting is great with the Thickness control alternating between 50% and 100%, and sounds really nice with slight reverb and delay for lead tones.
The Doom control mode is an electrolytic capacitor to ground from the clipping diodes. This setting gives unruly breakup, but it’s really meant for strumming. Lead tones on this setting do not cut as they would on other settings. This is really cool for people who are trying to play heavy riffs, metal, rock etc. This also sounds really cool with reverb and other drive pedals before or after, as well as pitch shifters. There are some weird and experimental tones here to be explored and exploited, for sure.
While it looks like a simple-ish pedal, the Designated Driver is anything but, yet you can still manipulate it rather intuitively, for a frustrating-free sonic experience. If this is what Retroactive Pedals came up with to begin their effects pedal lineup, we’re super-stoked to see what they follow it up with. Cheers to those cats for letting us check this army green beast out – be sure to give them a Follow on their Instagram page (hopefully they’ll have a website soon!).