I should probably have covered this off sooner but I’m so satisfied with my True North Tweed Drive that I’ve not felt it necessary to look at alternatives. That said, there have been a few fairly recent additions to this group - so I thought I might as well do an overview of what’s around - usual suspects, new and old.
I’ve been aware of Tweed style overdrives for a while, in fact I had the Bearfoot FX Sparkling Yellow OD3 for more than a year before trying it out for its specific Tweed tones - I actually acquired it more as an all-round Fender-style multi-tasker than specifically a tweed type. In fact it was only when I came across the True North Tweed Drive that I got properly switches onto that particular brand of twang - and did some due diligence in the lead-up to its acquisition.
With different overdrive types, some tend to be universal perennial classics - like Tube Screamers and Klons, while others wax and wane in popularity over the years. Tweed seems to belong to the latter category as is born out by those pedals discontinued within that genre - like Wampler’s Tweed ’57.
Some of these pedal builders have a couple of offerings in the category - direct and indirect in the case of Bearfoot FX, Catalinbread, Mad Professor and Menatone. I’ve selected those I felt best aligned with my own personal criteria - while there are also several alternatives in medium and large enclosures which are beyond this article’s remit.
I recall really liking Mad Professor’s Little Tweedy Drive when it came out a little over a year ago - but it’s not proved too popular for some reason and is already discontinued? The most recent additions to this group are the Crazy Tube Circuits Falcon and Umbrella Company Hitchhike Drive which I’ve also had my eyes on. I quite like Zvex’s ’59 Sound with separate boost footswitch too, but at this point in time I don’t see anything supplanting my True North Tweed Drive - we’ll see how I feel after I complete the overview/review.
Pedals are listed alphabetically by brand:
Bearfoot has has at least a couple of pedals that cover this territory, the now seemingly discontinued Honey Bare, and this Fender all-rounder which purports to cover Tweed, Blonde and Brownface Fender styles, along with a dash of Plexi. You get 5 controls - Volume | Drive | Lower Mids | Mode | Treble - where the Mode dial is actually a 2-way switch which adjusts gain character - adding a touch more grit to the core tone. This is a wonderfully versatile pedal and I've not really used it as much as I should, but it still remains a key part of my own tone library.
One of Boss's notable COSM digital modelling drives which for some reason failed to gain sufficient support to sustain it. I nevertheless think this is a pretty great sounding Tweed style drive with few of those artefacts present which often typify digital modelling tones. You get 6 controls here including dual-concentric pots at either end - Presence | Middle | Bass | Treble | Level | Gain. There's a few of these around on Reverb.com at the moment, and since they're not much in demand you can find genuine bargains out there - worth it for the tone controls alone!
The first of a couple of offerings from Catalinbread is their take on the early Fender Bassman Amps - those were originally intended for Bass players but found favour with many a guitar player too. You get 4 control dials - Presence | Tone | Master | Volume - with a push-button switch for Hi/Lo gain character. Both Catalinbread 'Tweeds' have been in their catalogue for a while which is testament to their ongoing popularity.
Catalinbread's take on the much loved classic 5E3 amp - possibly the most DIY'd amp style of all time owing to its inherent simplicity of circuit design. Here you get significantly more tone-shaping control courtesy of 3-band EQ alongside the usual Volume and Gain. The 5F6 and No. 55 have different core tonal profiles - owing much to the originals' speaker number and arrangement. Each version here has its own fans.
CTC's very recent Falcon drive pedal combines a 5E3 Tweed Deluxe and a 6G2 Brownface Princeton via '55/'61 mode switch. You get 3 controls - Output | Volume | Tone. Another very credible Tweed type drive here with a high degree of versatility, although not quite as wide-ranging in some ways as the Sparkling Yellow above.
Greer are justifiably celebrated in particular for their low and medium gain drive pedals, and while the Tomahawk is not quite as widely lauded as say the Lightspeed or Southland it is still another fine take on the Tweed - here with three controls - Volume, Drive and Treble.
J Rockett's Monkeyman is slightly unusual as it is the only one here which takes on the reverb part of the source amp too. There are just 3 controls - Volume, Speaker Breakup and Sping Reverb - so you get the full Tweed-Verb experience in a single box. There's obviously pros and cons for having the reverb included in the same box - I have the Mad Professor #1 which does a similar thing with included reverb and that actually works pretty well too.
Lovepedal's High Power is a classic of the type also - with just 2-way gain switch and volume and drive dials. It looks to replicate tones from the Tweed Twin through to the smaller Tweed Deluxe amp. For such a simple pedal there's a surprising degree of range onboard.
This is Mad Professor's original take on the Tweed format - based on the larger Tweed amps of the time - like the Tweed Twin. You have 4 controls - Volume | Drive | Tone | Presence. This pedal has generally been very well received and has been in the Mad Professor range for a number of years now.
Mad Professor launched this a little over a year ago around Winter NAMM 2018 - aimed at replicating the smaller Tweed amps - like the Tweed Deluxe - this has a slightly gutsier feel to it Than the Big Tweedy Drive, and I really loved it from first introduction - it's been on my wishlist since. Bizarrely though this pedal has failed to find favour with Tweed fans as Mad Professor announced they were retiring it barely a year after its launch. I still rather like it though and will try and pick one up at a good price. The pedal has 2-Band EQ alongside the usual Volume and Drive.
Although not specifically designated as 'Tweed' style, Menatone nevertheless has a couple of pedals that cover / overlap on that territory. The Foxy Brown and the Dirty Blonde or Dirty B as referenced here - 4 knob and 6 knob varieties respectively. This is along the lines of the Sparkling Yellow OD3 above which aims to cover off a variety of classic Fender tones. You get 3-band EQ alongside Volume, Soul and Gain, where Soul is essentially the degree of compression - a sort of gain structure. Brian Mena makes some really great drive pedals, and this one is definitely right up there.
And so onto my current weapon of choice - Sheldon Ens' True North Pedals' Tweed Drive which is really what properly turned me onto the possibilities of the Tweed genre. You get 5 controls here - Drive, Volume and Tone dials alongside Diode Clipping Switch (twin LED) and Fat / Boost Switch. By preference I have both toggle switches Up/On - with Drive and Volume around 2 to 3 o'c and Tone around 12:30. The build quality and attention to detail here is superb - and there's just something so fitting about this beautiful artisan proper tweed-wrapped enclosure.
This German-made pedal is something of an outlier here - I've only seen these for sale at Effect-Boutique.de to date - while BSM itself specialises in Boost Pedals - Treble Boosters in particular. The pedal has a fairly unusual side-dials arrangement for Volume and Gain and not much else besides. Despite having just two controls though there is plenty of range on tap - should be sufficient for most.
This pedal is pretty new to me, not sure how long it has been in circulation - but I came across it by chance while initially doing this research some weeks ago now, and then as luck would have it Reverb.com / Andy Martin did a Tone Report on it very recently. The pedal is Japanese-designed and made by hitherto unknown Umbrella Company - and features 6 different controls as such - Volume, Gain, Bass, Treble and Saturate and Amp Type toggle switches. The former is an on/off switch, while the latter is a 3-way D, T and B mode switch. D represents Tweed Deluxe, T is Tweed Twin, while B is a sort of gain-boosted version of 'T'. This is a really compelling pedal which demands further consideration.
Introduced around 2012 I believe, this pedal has been discontinued for some years now alas. I'm not sure why it failed to take off sufficiently, by all accounts it was well received at the time. But as I've indicated in the intro - while certain pedals are perennial classics, the fortunes of others sort of waxes and wanes - and the Tweed type seems to be one of the more cyclical ones. Which seems to be in the ascendancy again right now, but evidently was fading out at the time of this Tweed '57. Said pedal comes with 3-band EQ, Volume and Gain, alongside Normal/Bright/Treble Input Selector toggle-switch. I've always thought this pedal sounded pretty good, so I can only assume that its uptake was insufficient for it to keep its place in the Wampler range.
This vertical edition of the classic Zvex '59 Sound Tweed plus boost pedal has been around a little over a year now, and was one of those recent-ish Zvex pedals that went onto my wishlist at the time. I of course have a very long wishlist with shifting priorities, and once I had acquired the True North Tweed Drive I felt I really did not need any other, but this still remains on the list of nice-to-haves for me. You get a Boost level control here alongside the usual Volume, Tone and Drive. It's a really versatile pedal in a neat format - and one that will probably end up in my tone library at some stage.
I am pretty happy with the above selection - of course there are many more out there at different sizes - and I could have included also for instance the Brantone Electronics Vintage Tweed Drive and JHS Twin Twelve V2 Tweed Style Overdrive. But I feel that the above mix is pretty much perfect as is and should satisfy near enough everyone who has an inkling for Tweed tones.
As mentioned, I have two of these currently - the Bearfoot FX Sparkling Yellow OD3 which warrants more playback than it's getting at the moment, and my pretty much fixed pedal-chain placement True North Tweed Drive. Those really cover most bases between them, but I still rather like the look of the Little Tweedy Drive, Dirty B, Hitchhike Drive and '59 Sound. I will likely add one or two of those at same stage, while it's not at all a pressing matter right now - as usual it depends on availability and pricing - and if I can get some sort of 2nd hand or B-stock bargain then that will elevate it in priority. All of these are decent pedals and will produce satisfactory Tweed tones - it's as much up to personal preference on how simple or full-range you want your pedal to be. Many just go for a single perfect set and forget tone, while I always tend to look for some further degree of inherent versatility.
If you are looking for a Tweed style drive hopefully you will find yours within this number - or at least be one more step further down the trail on your quest.