Review: EarthQuaker Devices Westwood Translucent Drive Manipulator
Transparent overdrive (A.K.A. clean boost) pedals have become the hottest item on the stomp box market ever since the legendary Klon Centaur was discontinued in 2009. Since then, it seems every pedal maker has offered an alternative—so many, in fact, that you’re probably flapping your hands above your ears, sticking out your tongue and yelling, “I’ve already got one!” like the obnoxious French knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Well, even if you already own a transparent overdrive pedal, you should still consider the new EarthQuaker Devices Westwood Translucent Drive Manipulator, which combines true clean boost functions with a two-band active EQ to provide a wider range of musically useful tones and more versatile flexibility.
The EarthQuaker Westwood features a simple, four-knob design that provides the usual Level and Drive controls plus separate Bass and Treble EQ controls. The Westwood differs from most other transparent boost pedals by providing more gain boost that pushes overdrive to the edge of distortion—and including an active EQ section that delivers up to 20dB of boost or cut to frequencies around 2kHz (treble) and 80Hz (bass). The pots for bass and treble knobs have center-detents at 0dB to make it easy to dial in true transparent tone. The circuit has an all-analog signal path, and the true bypass switch is relay-based to provide silent, click-free on and off switching.
Many transparent overdrive/clean boost pedals actually color the tone slightly (usually a midrange bump between 1.5 to 3kHz), but the EarthQuaker Westwood provides truly transparent boost and overdrive when the EQ controls are set to the center detents. This is perfect if you already love the tone of your amp but want more gain, push or dynamics. But if you don’t entirely love your amp’s tone or you need to make adjustments for different guitars, the Westwood gives you the option of sculpting the tone with the active EQ controls.
I found the frequencies of the bass and treble controls to be just right with a wide variety of amps, with the treble boost and bass cut capable of adding attractive sizzle and slice, the bass boost delivering beefy thump and “woman tone” howl and the treble cut taking the edge off of shrill single-coil pickups. In addition to sweetening the tone of an amp you already love, the Westwood also can improve the tone of a lackluster, dark or wimpy-sounding amp.
LIST PRICE: $179
MANUFACTURER: EarthQuaker Devices, earthquakerdevices.com
● The Level and Drive controls can dial in anything from clean boost to aggressive overdrive pushed just to the edge of distortion, but with no signal compression.
● The two-band EQ section features a Bass knob that provides 20dB of boost/cut around 80Hz and a Treble knob with 20dB of boost/cut around 2kHz.
THE BOTTOM LINE
If you want true transparent overdrive with a wider range of gain as well as flexible EQ for refining your amp or guitar’s tone, the EarthQuaker Westwood Translucent Drive Manipulator will truly rock your world.