Over the past ten or so years, a number of incredible Australian builders have popped up to show the world just what we’ve got to offer down under. By now, it should come to no surprise that we’re quite an inventive bunch, and it seems that we do pedals just as well as anywhere else in the world, with some of our stompboxes even being ranked among some of the best available in the world today.
Even though we’ve only highlighted a handful of units here, there’s plenty more out there that deserve your attention, and we fully recommend sussing out the full spectrum on Reverb, Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace. For now, here’s six Aussie-made overdrives we reckon you should keep your eyes peeled for.
Bondi Effects – Sick As Overdrive
Finding its way onto the boards of high-profile shredders like Mateus Asato and Misha Mansoor, the Sick As Overdrive is steadily building a reputation as one of the best boutique drives to ever come out of the Southern Hemisphere. The crown jewel of the Bondi Effects pedal catalogue offers a fresh take on the tried-and-true Klon Centaur, with the gain control featuring a nifty modification that allows for the ratio of gain-to-clean tone to increase to make sure your tone stays mud-free.
The Sick As Overdrive also runs off 18V power for sharpened clarity and more headroom, while the two-band tone circuit lets you boost or cut up to 15dB of treble or bass frequencies. This EQ control tends to be one of the most hyped features of the Sick As Overdrive, and when you hear it in action, it’s easy to understand why. It’s also got a little toggle to control the amount of headroom on tap and overdrive character, letting you flick between a tight, compressed tone with a pronounced midrange or a wide, open rhythm tone. The name doesn’t beat around the bush – Bondi Effects’ Sick As Overdrive is, in fact, fully sick.
MI Audio – Crunch Box
By all accounts, it was the Crunch Box that really helped put Aussie pedal builders on the map. A relatively simple unit in principle, MI Audio’s distinctive red overdrive is modelled on a classic Marshall stack with plenty of juice, making it a no-brainer for anyone delving into rock, hard-rock or punk tones. However, it’s also surprisingly versatile and can be used effectively to slice through the mix as a gritty overdrive, with many Crunch Box users singing the pedal’s praise for rampant garage-rock stylings.
MI Audio, who are based out of Sydney, doubled down on the Crunch Box recently with an updated Super Crunch Box, featuring a three-band EQ, a new presence control and three different clipping modes. A low-gain mode is designed to pair well with single coil pickup users, and the pedal also features greater internal voltage for more headroom. If you’re looking for an overdrive somewhere in between a Boss DS-2 and a modified Tube Screamer, we’d recommend this one – strap on a Les Paul and let that treble bleed through for a staunch rock ’n roll tone unlike any other.
Mozztronics Tube Driver TD-1
Handmade in Melbourne, the Mozztronics Tube Driver TD-1 stands out from the pack by actually implementing a genuine 12AX7 valve in the gain stages of the pedal as opposed to being used in the tone control section of the circuit. This lets you actually milk the valve for an authentic, souped-up tube overdrive tone, making this offering from Mozztronics perfect for the pedal pundit who settles for nothing but the best.
With a three-way contour toggle to flick between mild, normal and heavy drive levels, the TD-1 can handle everything from a bluesy crunch all the way up to a searing, saturated lead tone. You’ll have to source an external 15VAC>16VAC 2.1mm power supply to get the TD-1 running the tube in starved plate mode, but it’s definitely worth it for the tones on tap. The TD-1 pairs exceptionally with a T-Style guitar for classic twangy tones, and it’s a great unit to experiment routing other effects through due to the warmth of that 12AX7. There’s not many Mozztronics TD-1s out there in the wild, but it’s 100% worth your time scoping out a unit if one pops up on Gumtree or Marketplace.
Tym Guitars OPD777
As well as running one of Brisbane’s best vintage and used guitar shopfronts, Tym Guitars have proved themselves to be quite handy with a soldering iron as well, making some of the best pedal clones Australia has to offer. They’re most famous for their fantastic EHX Big Muff clones, but Tym Guitars also make quite a delightful version of the DOD 250 preamp, a coveted overdrive unit that was first debuted in the late ‘70s.
Based on an original seven resistor DOD 250 from 1997, Tym’s OPD777 utilises original value components and a LM741 IC chip, and is probably one of the most authentic 250 clones I’ve ever heard. From squawky, boosted tones with just a slice of grit to full-on pressed preamp tones, it’s incredibly versatile, and even features a toggle to take out the silicon clipping diodes for a pure clean boost. It’s also got an LED, which is a nice upgrade from the original unit. Anything made by Tym Guitars tends to be as rare as hen’s teeth, and as a result, it can prove to be quite difficult to get your hands on their gear – but it’s so, so worth it!
Teletronix Mullholland Drive
Definitely a standout offering from our shores, this offering from Teletronix is a little box with a massive reputation. Modelled as a boost pedal or, when pushed, a low-to-medium gain overdrive, the Mullholland Drive incorporates aspects of some of the best vintage pedal and amplifier preamps of all time with a bit of a twist, functioning as a tone-enhancing tool that will almost certainly have you reaching for your wallet.
Due to its compact chassis, the Mullholland Drive is a mighty choice to add to your board if you’re looking for a boost with a bit of special character. It essentially sharpens up your tone without colouring your pure signal, which makes it ideal for either pushing a valve amp into overdrive or to solely function as a clean boost for when you need to cut through the mix. These characteristics have made the Mullholland Drive a hit with players in the realms of indie-pop, funk/soul and country, although it also sounds like cake when used for Derek Trucks-esque slide guitar.
Dazatronyx Class A Germanium Amplifier
Whether you’re using it as an always-on pedal to sauce your tone up or you want to use it as a strategic boost to surge through your mix, the Class A Germanium Amplifier from Melbourne builder Dazatronyx is a mighty, mighty little guy. It’s simple as as hell, with one big knob to control gain and a three-way switch to flick between Mid, Bright and Full Cream gain modes, with an oversized amp jewel functioning as an LED adding a bit of extra charm to the unit. Newer models also come with a pristine decorated chassis, but even the old industrial red boxes have their own steez going on
Given that it’s powered by a tin-can PNP Germanium transistor, the Dazatronyx should definitely not be used as a clean boost. It’s super hot and a bit dirty, but if you’re looking for vintage-voiced sustain with plenty of grunt, it’ll do the trick for you. It pairs excellently with a fuzz pedal for a filthy cutthroat tone, and can be used to drive a valve amp into uncharted territories when experimenting with hectic tones in the studio. These bad boys also come with a ten-year warranty, which should be more than enough to seal the deal.
In conclusion, there’s a whole heap of killer pedals out there waiting for you to uncover their secrets. Now is a great time to buy local and put some cash in the pockets of boutique Aussie builders – happy hunting!
Check out our range of pedal reviews for more recommendations to beef up your tone.