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In-Depth & Hands-On

REVIEW: Seymour Duncan’s Twin Tube Classic Overdrive

Disclosure Policy | Mon, Oct 26, 2009 | 2324 |

Seymour-Duncan-Twin-Tube-ClassicIt’s the holy grail of the armchair guitar-god isn’t it? –– an overdrive pedal capable of producing searing, creamy, tube-driven distortion reminiscent of the great classic amp heads, but at a reasonable price-point and with a small footprint.

Add in a dose of seriously sturdy construction, dual overdrive channels, military-grade vacuum tubes, and true-bypass circuitry, and you’ve got a pedal that’ll really go the distance –– that’s the Twin Tube Classic.

Like most long-time electric guitar players, I’ve owned at least a dozen or more distortion pedals over the years, and I’ve spent real “quality time” with at least a few dozen more, but nothing has ever scratched my itch for the rich, warm, organic sound of a vacuum tube being pushed to the breaking point like Seymour Duncan’s Twin Tube does… it’s just that good.

Creamy High-Voltage Goodness

Running off a 16-volt AC adapter (as opposed to the more common 9-volt DC,) the Twin Tube Classic is pumping some serious voltage through a set of subminiature military-spec 6021 vacuum tubes, and producing a high-quality overdrive that will leave your ears truly satisfied and your fingers itching to play.

The controls couldn’t be much easier: there’s an ON/BYPASS footswitch (with true bypass circuitry) for turning the device off and on, a CHANNEL SELECT footswitch for moving between the two overdrive channels (Rhythm and Lead,) separate VOLUME and GAIN knobs for each of the channels, and a single set of BASS and TREBLE knobs for setting your desired tone. The back panel is as simple as simple can be: Input, Output, that’s it.

Seymour-Duncan-Twin-Tube-Classic-BackWith two channels on-board, plus a bypass footswitch in easy reach, the Twin Tube Classic essentially gives you access to three different pre-sets –– your amp’s clean tone, the pedal’s Ryhthm overdrive channel, and of course the Lead overdrive channel… what more are you really looking for?

Seymour Duncan has managed to create one highly usable pedal in the Twin Tube Classic: the unit’s Rhythm overdrive channel easily produces anything from a slightly muddy slur to a full-on clipped and crunchy distortion, while the Lead channel can be set to produce just about anything you like –– from just a slight tweak in volume all the way up to buttery smooth wailing and crying.

Pounding Townshend-esqe power chords? Check!

Vocally expressive Warren Haynesian blues riffs? Check!

It’s ultimately an entire tube pre-amp in a floor pedal.

And I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that the Twin Tube Classic performs equally well with both singlecoils and humbuckers –– heck, the tone this thing produces when matched with P-90s (my Gibson ’67 SG Special) is nothing short of guttural and gorgeous.

In fact, perhaps the only thing this pedal won’t do is screeching modern high-gain distortion –– Seymour Duncan built a pedal just for that: the Twin Tube Mayhem –– but when it comes to classic tube distortion, you really have to hear this thing to believe it… the Twin Tube Classic is quite simply one of the most expressive overdrive pedals I’ve had the pleasure to play, and both my Strat and SG are thanking me for sinking one of these orange beauties into my pedal board.

Get out there and try one out. You won’t be disappointed.