This boutique style pedal by Animals Pedals is accessible, visually artful, and a wonderful addition to any pedal board!

Formerly known as Nine Volt Pedals, Animals Pedals was founded in Japan in 2015 by LEP International Co.  These uniquely decorated pedals made their premiere in the US in 2018, after spreading rapidly across Japanese markets.  Welcome to the US, guys! We are all in favor of finely crafted, unique, boutique style pedals that are at least a bit more accessible to everybody financially, and involve local visual artists and pedal makers in the process.  A recent collaboration with Marc Ahlfs of Skreddy Pedals, has resulted in a line of near tonal clones of his famous Fuzz/Distortion/Overdrive pedals. They have very similar, if not the same components, and even the same names, such as the “Rust Rod” and “Rover”.

And I fell in love again

She Shreds had the opportunity to try out the line of pedals, but for this review, we’re going to focus on “The Major Overdrive”. This pedal is one of oh so many overdrive pedals on the market today.  What makes this pedal stand out and stick to my heart besides the affordable boutique vibes, Skreddy mastery, and adorable bears painted on the front?  It’s the way that the guts (soul and tones) of this pedal are warm, sleek, solid, and earthy brown, reminiscent of the vintage tube amps of the 60’s and 70’s.  It brings out the buttery mids and low end that exist in my Gibson SG, with a tone knob to keep the high end squashed and squawky, the way i like it best. The overall controls are simple and classic including a Tone knob to control the higher frequencies, a Gain knob to set the amount of grit, or breakup in your signal, and Volume.  

Specs:

  • 9V power
  • Featured artwork by Jonas Claesson
  • True by-pass switching
  • High quality Skreddy transistors and design specs
  • 3 control knobs (Tone, Gain, Volume)
  • Retail:  $119
  • Used: $60-75

Your riffs can break and shine

Using the Animals Major Overdrive mostly as a boost to push the tubes in my amp harder, created a super clean, precise, attack with a gritty warm ending (Volume cranked, a slight amount of Gain).  There exists a dynamic sensitivity in this sweet spot only an analog unit can provide…the more you dig in, the more intense the breakage. With the slight amount of compression happening, the tone gives way to an almost chorus-like mid range boost, similar to the warm gain of the Electro-Harmonix “Soul Food”.  If you desire a more steady broken distorted sound, and a boosted tone change to bring in and out, turn up the Tone and Gain, peeling back on the Volume a bit. This allows a smoother, more saturated and steady crunchy tone to come through, perfect for rhythm riffing behind vocals, or tucked back leads with clarity and plenty of character.    

Pick the perfect spot in your chain…

Analog overdrive naturally extends the tails, intensity and depths of other effects in your pedal chain, so order is very important to consider when adding this new friend to your family of pedals.  Something I loved trying in this situation was creating a messier sound, placing the delay/reverb before overdrive. The result is a warm, compressed tone in the sonically pleasing shape of sine, with an extra long tail, and extra depth, and a load of information that distorts and eventually ends up washing out into nothing…If you prefer a more one dimensional tone that is a bit cleaner, less washed out, more intense, and has a brighter top end, you can try placing the overdrive BEFORE the delay/reverb.  In this case, the harmonics pumped out of your instrument are directly affected, leaving less room for over-saturation. Play around until you find the sweet spot, it’s your tone and you can make your own rules.

The Animals Major Overdrive is a golden addition to any pedal board.  It’s classic, and super solid analog circuitry keeps things organic and warm, working to authentically intensify your sound in a very pure and dynamic way.