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This article was originally published in issue #33
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There are some pedals that us guitarists just can't be without (at least, that's how we justify them!). You NEED a good drive pedal for those crunchy moments, and you NEED a great compressor for the funky times. There are approximately one million and one of each currently on the market, requiring more and more valuable space on your pedal board, but wait... what if there was a pedal that had both pedals in one, that would be awesome, right? Enter the Route 66 V3 from Visual Sound. As always, check out the video to hear the pedal for yourself.
The route 66 V3 is an overdrive/compression pedal in one, containing the Comp 66 and Route 808. Designed for both guitar and bass, this is claimed to solve all your compression and overdrive needs. It's a good looking, well made unit and not too big, (around the size of two standard pedals). It does have a fair few knobs, controls, not to mention ins and outs, which can seem a little overwhelming on first inspection, however, all is pretty straightforward once you start having a play around. You can plug in and out to either pedal to isolate it, or go into the compressor and out of the overdrive to use both. For a different array of tonal qualities and to add other pedals in between, you can go into the compressor, run a short cable out and into the overdrive, then back out of the overdrive (!), but for standard all round operation option two will be your best shot, and that's what we did here. Powered by either a single 9v battery or a standard power supply. This is the third generation of the Route 66, and some noticeable additions include silent true bypass switching, leaving your tone intact without pops or clicks when you switch. Let's have a look at each side of the pedal in more detail.
Compressors are can be tricky things to get right. Too much and it all sounds a bit fake and notes lose their punch, too little and you lose the smoothness that you set out to get. There is a cool feature on the Comp 66 that solves this problem: a clean mix control which allows you to blend your original sound with the compressor in small increments to get the desired amount. Not all compressor pedals have this, and it's a great feature meaning you can tailor it to your exact needs.
The quality of the compression was very good, delivering near endless sustain when turned right up, with somewhere in the middle offering that cool funk rhythm sound. Smooth, with not too harsh an attack and bell like cleans make this a very good stand alone compressor pedal.
This overdrive claims to be based on the classic TS-808 Tubescreamer. Once again there is the great feature of a blend control between your normal tone and overdrive, plus two different “voices” (once again these are demonstrated on the video). The Drive control offers a good range from crunchy chords – bluesy rhythms, right up to sustained leads, and didn’t ever suffer from turning muddy or getting lost in the mix. It's a good cutting overdrive, designed for both guitar and bass. But whilst it is very good, I couldn’t help but thinking it lacked a little punch. I would put it more in the boost level rather than a full-on overdrive, and as a boost it works just fine.
Using the two together as you might expect, you can get some very interesting sounds, from slightly crunchy funk rhythms right through to endless sustained notes. Crunch mid way and compressor up fairly high makes your legato runs chime and feel effortless as any volume dips are evened out. The Route 66 is a very good combination pedal that sounds great, doesn’t sap your tone, with plenty of controls to play around with. Does it cover all angles and get rid of all those other pedals you have? Depending on what you play quite possibly, but if you need a really saturated gain sound then you may have to add an additional overdrive pedal, or help it along with amp overdrive. Also, bearing in mind the build quality (high) and the fact that you are getting two effects in one, it's reasonably prices, too.
Visual Sound One Spot Adaptor
We powered our review Route 66 V3 using the clever Visual Sound One Spot adaptor which we reviewed back with a bunch of other Visual Sound pedals, back in Issue 27. Despite taking up, as its name suggests, minimal space, this clever adaptor can handle many pedals and is a very cost effective power source. We gave it four stars in our first review and see no reason to change that opinion.