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DistortionOverdrive

Review: Revv G3 Distortion

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Canadian. Expensive. Handmade. High gain. Sound familiar? No, we’re not talking about Mike, we’re talking about Revv Amplification, the team behind the revered Generator amps, and now the much smaller and more affordable Revv G3 pedal. The newest offering from Revv promises to deliver the tone found in the purple channel of the legendary 120 watt Revv Generator amp, at a fraction of the cost. According to the folks at Revv, the G3 pedal should be thought of more like a channel of a tube amp instead of simply a pedal. Clarity, presence, and realistic dynamic response have all been touted as features of this new purple box. If you have been searching for a relatively inexpensive way to obtain one of the most fiended after amp tones in modern metal and rock, the folks at Revv have got you covered. With a three band EQ, volume and gain controls, and a three-way channel switch, the G3 certainly resembles more of an amp than a typical distortion pedal.

Features

Volume: controls the overall output level. Right off the bat this pedal feels a lot different than a typical pedal in that the range of the volume knob is ENORMOUS. Like, actually quite broad. We have played plenty of pedals, and in recent years the volume knobs seem to have been getting more and more headroom. Newer offerings from J. Rockett Audio Designs, Wampler, and even mass-produced contenders from MXR have been loaded with plenty of output signal on tap. But the Revv G3 is still louder by a long shot. Not only does this make the pedal great as a boost/overdrive, but it is the first indication that the G3 can actually function as an amp channel. Flying solo with just a pedal in front of a house system, or in the studio in front of a cabinet modeler, is uncommon and some would say downright crazy. Part of that has to do with the fact that most pedals do not have the preamp capabilities to make it a viable option. Well, it looks like Revv has just upped the ante on that one. Every house system is different, so we can’t speak for the voodoo that lies within the electronics of your favorite venue, but we can say that the Revv has no problem going straight into a cabinet modeler and sounding better than many amp sim plugins currently on the market. Take that for what it’s worth, but there is no denying that the G3 pedal has more headroom than you will likely ever need.

Bass: controls the amount of bass. Unlike the bass control on many pedals, this knob is usable in every position, thanks to the detail with which the filter has been designed. At its lowest setting, the bass control simply makes the pedal sound like a tube amp with its bass rolled all the way off, instead of an extreme high pass filter, which is what you get with many popular gain pedals at this setting. At higher gain settings, this becomes extremely useful as it allows you to get that crisp and tight low end that is perfect for intricate down tuned (or extended range) riffs. Similarly, at full tilt the bass control does not force overwhelming amounts of woof into the signal, but rather causes the bass frequencies to blossom evenly and smoothly. Not that you are always going to want to crank the bass knob, but the fine-tuned nature of this control means that the G3 can adapt easily to a variety of contexts.

Middle: controls the amount of middle frequencies. As a category, the mids control seems to be a defining characteristic of modern guitar pedals. Whether you chalk that up to progressive metal’s current surge in popularity, the emergence of scores of new boutique tube amp manufacturers, or simply a general realization amongst guitar players that most of their instrument occupies what we regard as the “middle frequencies,” is up to you. But these days it seems like if you want your pedal to stand a chance, its gotta have a mids control. Appropriately, the middle control on the Revv G3 behaves very much like that of an amp’s mids control. Turn the knob all the way down for a scooped tone, and turn it all the way up for a mids-forward type of tone. Sounds simple, and it is. But what’s interesting about this is that the middle control has a significantly different effect on the output signal, depending on the level of gain that the pedal is producing. At high gain settings, turning the middle knob all the way down yields some classic thrash tones, while cranking the middle knob up results in the in-your-face kind of presence that we have come to expect from the guitar tones of modern metal. At low and medium gain settings, turning the middle knob down results in more of the quacky, Fender Twin kind of sound that you might find in country music, and turning the middle knob towards the top of its limit will provide you with the kind of honk that you would hear from a slightly pushed boutique amp, like say a Victory or a Dr. Z. Now, this kind of behavior might seem standard to you, after all most good tube amps work this way, but we are not dealing with a tube amp, we are dealing with a pedal. Go ahead and plug in your DS-1, OCD, or TS-9 and try and replicate what we just described. Although each of those pedals are great in their own ways, they are not going to be able to provide you with nearly as great a range as to compete with the functions of your amps.

Treble: controls the amount of treble frequencies. This knob is particularly useful for taming some of the higher partials that result from higher gain settings, as well as compensating for various characteristics of the other components of your rig. For example, you might get the G3 set to a voicing that sounds great with your PAF-loaded guitar, but when you switch over to a Tele, it is just too bright. Before tweaking the other controls, try rolling back the treble knob. Sometimes it can be useful to think of treble knobs as fine tuning controls, and when you are dealing with a piece of equipment as well designed as the Revv G3, a little bit of fine tuning can go a long way.

Gain: allows you to dial in anywhere from no gain, to more gain than most people would even know what to do with. Again, we have a control that is functional at every position. The lower settings provide some nice early breakup/crunch tones, the medium settings deliver plexi-ish response, and the higher settings land you firmly in metal territory. Unlike many pedals, the G3 does not have that kind of “blanket” gain that sort of lies on top of the signal in a generally unresponsive kind of way (looking at you Metal Zone), but rather a kind of gain that responds to the other settings on the pedal. This is another way in which the G3 behaves more like an amp channel than a pedal, and this quality significantly contributes not only to the usability of the pedal, but to the overall musicality as well.

As a final note on the character and quality of the Revv G3’s gain, it is worth mentioning that this pedal tracks very well. Those of you who are familiar with using distortion pedals as your primary means of saturation will be familiar with the saggy and slow low-end tracking that most pedals provide. This artifact is the most obvious sign that someone is using a pedal for their distortion instead of their amplifier. Indeed, this is part of the reason that for decades players chose to rely on overdrive units and steer clear of distortion circuits all together, particularly for rhythm tones, where the tracking error is particularly pronounced. As such, this is an issue that boutique makers have been addressing specifically for over a decade now to varying degrees of success, but despite various advancements, the best solution is still to just use an amp. The Revv G3 is the first pedal that we have come across that has actually demonstrated that it is not impossible to make a pedal that tracks as well as an amp. And although this pedal may not be quite as tight as an über high gain boutique amp head that is being hit hard with a luxury boutique clean boost pedal, we’re just going to say it: the Revv G3 pedal actually tracks better than many tube amps. Yes, you read that correctly. The Revv G3 has less sag than many actual tube amps.

Aggression Switch: allows you to toggle between three different channels. In ascending order of gain levels they are: off, blue, and red. In the most general terms, one could think of the blue and red channels as rhythm and lead, respectively, and you could do a lot worse than sticking to that relatively traditional approach. Perhaps more useful however, is to think of each channel in terms of gain potential and compression. Don’t be confused by the labeling, the off position does not mean that the pedal is off, but simply that neither the blue or red channels are engaged. In many ways though, the off channel is the most versatile. From slight breakup, to punchy crunch, this channel is a nice option for lower gain applications where you want some dynamic grit without any of the high gain compression; this is where you can access some of those previously mentioned low gain, boutique amp sounds. Nashville tunes, funk jams, and classic rock songs are all well suited to this channel. The blue channel introduces quite a bit more gain as well as a light serving of compression. This channel would be comparable to the crunch setting of the green channel of a 5150/6505 amp head. Good for rhythm or lead playing, depending on how you set the gain knob, the blue channel of the Revv G3 also responds very well to a little bit of front end boost. Treating the G3 like an amp, we tried placing a variety of boost pedals in front of it including a Fortin 33, an Archer, a Tumnus Deluxe, an SD-1, an ODR-1, and even the new Abasi Pathos, all with the goal of tightening up the low end and adding some extra punch. In all cases the G3 responded well to the boost and became slightly more dynamic. Finally, the red channel provides the highest amount of gain, along with ample amounts of compression. Think of this channel as similar to the red channel of a 5105/6505…but without all of the extra fizz and hiss. The red channel is smooth and saturated, and the extra compression lends itself well to liquid lead lines, and the slight woof of heavily scooped rhythm tones. Yet despite this, the G3 never reaches the point of sounding quite as scooped or compressed as a DS-1, Metal Zone, or even a Blues Driver. The Revv’s fine-tuned EQ shines through, ensuring that your mids remain intact, and that your tone sounds as natural as possible.

Spectrographic Analysis

Telecaster Style Guitar [Maple Fingerboard, Dimarzio D-Activator Humbucker (bridge position)] – Cable – Scarlett 2i2 Interface – MacBook Pro 15” 2012 – Logic Pro X.

Powered by a grounded Voodoo Labs Pedal Power unit via 9V input.

No pedal in signal path

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Revv G3 Bypassed, placed between Guitar and Interface

Not much signal loss or frequency gouging here. Basically what you would expect from a true bypass pedal.

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Revv G3 ON [Aggression: Off; Bass: Noon; Middle: Noon; Treble: Noon; Gain: Noon; Volume: Full]*
A very natural and present saturation is on display here. Notice how the graph shows how true to the original signal the effected signal is.

*Note that these settings will be mimicked (controls at noon, level at full), when possible, in all of our distortion, overdrive, and fuzz reviews, in the interest of developing a standard that facilitates both comparison and understanding of the inherent tonal qualities of each pedal.

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Revv G3 ON [Aggression: Blue; Bass: Noon; Middle: Noon; Treble: Noon; Gain: Noon; Volume: Full]
Notice the slight increase in saturation across the board, and the subtle increase in presence of the mid frequencies when the Blue channel is engaged.

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Revv G3 ON [Aggression: Red; Bass: Noon; Middle: Noon; Treble: Noon; Gain: Noon; Volume: Full]
Here on the Red channel, we can see that the tide of saturation has risen progressively so that most of our fundamental frequencies on the instrument experience extreme distortion.

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Revv G3 ON [Aggression: Off; Bass: Noon; Middle: Noon; Treble: Noon; Gain: 0; Volume: Full]
Here we have the Revv G3 at its lowest gain setting. The saturation is present but more of the original dynamic contour is preserved.

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Revv G3 ON [Aggression: Blue; Bass: Noon; Middle: Noon; Treble: Noon; Gain: 0; Volume: Full]
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Revv G3 ON [Aggression: Red; Bass: Noon; Middle: Noon; Treble: Noon; Gain: 0; Volume: Full]
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Revv G3 ON [Aggression: Off; Bass: Noon; Middle: Noon; Treble: Noon; Gain: Full; Volume: Full]
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Revv G3 ON [Aggression: Blue; Bass: Noon; Middle: Noon; Treble: Noon; Gain: Full; Volume: Full]
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Revv G3 ON [Aggression: Red; Bass: Noon; Middle: Noon; Treble: Noon; Gain: Full; Volume: Full]
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Conclusion

So there you have it. The Revv G3 is a pedal that seems to live up to the bulk of its hype, and that is not only surprising, but convenient. If this is the type of pedal that you have been after, do yourself a favor and check one out.

View Price on Ebay


View Price on Ebay

Specs

True Bypass: Yes
Battery Cavity: No
DC in: Yes (power supply sold separately)
Input(s): 1 x 1/4”
Output(s): 1 x 1/4”

 

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