The first thing you’ll notice about the Servo is its unique cosmetic approach, with a metal overlay holding the controls, LED, footswitch and even the input and output labels. The enclosure itself is finished in a white pearl look which really pops under certain lights, and the red status LED is crazy bright. The control layout is very simple, with a Servo gain knob with ‘dry’ at the lowest end of its travel and ‘fill’ at the highest. There’s also a boost switch for hitting your amp with extra gain, and it’s also your clue that what the Servo does isn’t simply a volume boost to make your amp’s preamp tubes drive harder: it’s designed to actually, actively enhance the signal whether it’s boosting it or not.
With that in mind, the Servo isn’t just for electric guitar. It can work its magic on acoustic guitar and bass as well, and it’s also useful as an insert effect in a studio setting for putting across drums and vocals. And because it’s not just a simple gain boost that depends on the interaction with preamp tubes, it’s also useful with digital modeling devices too.
Although our natural inclination as guitarists is always to dial in a kickass sound and then mix around it (which makes real sound engineers cringe), what I found with the Servo is that you’ll get the most out of it when you do the right thing by your soundie and set the pedal while listening to how your guitar sounds in a band or mix situation. You’ll find that there’s a certain sweet spot for the particular mix and the particular key of the song that just lifts everything up. And that’s not just for tube amps or as a front-end effect on digital modelers. Even though Taurus recommends you should use it as the very first component in your effects chain, that doesn’t mean you have to. For instance, try it as an insert effect on a digitally-modeled guitar track – cab simulation and all – and you’ll find that it helps to add in some of those heavenly overtones that real amps naturally exhibit but which modelers have a hard time replicating. And it’s definitely worth using it to enhance acoustic guitar and bass tracks, especially if you’re suffering from the dreaded acoustic piezo pickup ‘quack factor’ – y’know, that brittle high-end snap at the start of your notes?
The Servo won’t get rid of the quack but it seems to ‘lift up’ the other overtones in your guitar sound enough that the quack is balanced out by a fuller, richer sustain.
Taurus’ claim that this pedal can make a cheap guitar sound better sounds like marketing speak but it’s absolutely true. Its effect can be quite subtle, but very impactful at the same time, letting you squeeze more tone out of your gear whether it’s a beginner’s rig or a full-on professional-level setup.