TWO BECOME ONE
The Route 66 is a great-sounding combined overdrive and compressor. The new model dispenses with the wedge-shaped enclosure in favour of a more conventional box, and it adds a few controls. Whereas the V2 had Drive, Tone and Volume plus a Bass Boost switch on the distortion side and Comp, Tone and Gain plus a Tone switch on the compressor, the latest beefs things up with a Clean Mix knob with an accompanying bass control knob, an A-B voicing switch for the drive channel. The compressor side has Comp, Tone and Volume controls again but adds a Clean Mix knob plus a Tone switch (for engaging or bypassing the tone knob) and a Gate switch.
Both sides of the pedal are buffered, but you can turn this effect on or off via DIP switches for True Bypass operation. There are also two inputs and outputs so you can effectively use the unit as two totally separate pedals in two separate signal chains, or change the order of the two effects by using a patch cable, or even put other effects in between the two.
SOUND & VISION
The overdrive sound has a little bit of natural compression, although not to any level that would make the compressor side obsolete, of course. It’s a Tube Screamer-style overdrive with plenty of smoothness, warmth and attack, but with a brighter, more open high end to my ears. The A-B switch lets you select between a more bright and open overdrive or a more saturated one. In a lot of ways it’s similar to the JHS Moonshine reviewed elsewhere in this issue, but with more control, more headroom and a little more of a ‘boutique overdrive’ feel. The ability to blend in the clean sound gives you a lot more chime and clarity too.
The compressor side is designed to be quieter than the previous version and the noise gate is nice and subtle, saving you from abrupt-sounding cut-offs. Again the clean mix gives you flexibility for getting a snappy attack with lots of follow-up sustain. This particular compression circuit seems ideal for country chicken-pickin’ and general dynamic control. It’s also very musical and useful for funkier styles. There’s a bit of a low-end reduction, but in a very useful way rather than a harsh way.
IN THE MIX
There’s so much you can do with this pedal that I wish you could plug right into this page and test it out. Both sides are very useful but you can create some real magic when you use them together or start messing around with the order of the two effects. If you’re looking for an OD and a compressor, why not check this out and see if you can kill two birds with the one …tone?