Tweed Style Drives seem to fluctuate in and out of fashion quite frequently - there are a lot of discontinued Tweed pedals out there - like the Wampler Tweed 57 Drive and Way Huge Red Llama for example, while there seems to be a certain resurgence happening at the moment with a number of new pedals being introduced - particularly from smaller builders.
Both Greer Amps and Mad Professor launched new Tweed style pedals at the start of the year - namely the Tomahawk and Little Tweedy Drive respectively. While Zvex launched a new Vertical format of its ’59 Sound Tweed style drive. All these rekindled my interest in the genre again, and I started researching what my options were.
I expected there to be more Tweed minis - but apart from some very custom-built versions the only commercial /widely available offering in this area is the Mooer Micro PreAmp 006 US Classic Deluxe. This has the usual 2-Channel Micro PreAmp mechanic and actually is one of the more decent sounding ones from that range - so if you need a Mini Tweed - there really isn’t much choice.
Most of the Tweed pedals available are in the compact enclosure format - including the 3 mentioned above, as well as the Catalinbread Formulae 5F6 and No. 55, Empress Effects Germ Drive, Lovepedal High Powered Tweed Twin (HPTT), and Subdecay Liquid Sunshine to name but a few. There are even a few which come specially wrapped in Tweed style fabric - like UK’s 4114 Custom Effects ’Twinulator’ and Canada’s True North Pedals’ ’Tweed Drive’.
True North Pedals is one Sheldon Ens of Waldheim, Saskatchewan, and I’ve grown really fond of his Tweed Drive pedal - I think that’s my preferred take on this core sound, and I’ve been intending to acquire said pedal for a while, but keep on being distracted by various fuzz pedals - 2018 is after all my Year of Fuzz!
Onto the medium enclosure then, and the one that stood out for me there was Tech 21 NYC’s Blonde Drive - with its 3-band EQ and super versatility to cover a range of early Fender amps, including the ones in question. As mentioned on the Blues Breaker article, Tech 21 gets frequently overlooked as they’re not really up on social media, and don’t seem to promote themselves too well these days - but they still have some killer pedals on offer.
Finally I’ve selected the ever-popular Lovepedal Les Lius for the large category - and which I prefer over its HPTT sibling. You get just volume and gain dials, but then a 3-way mode toggle which provides three types of classic American drive - 5E3 Woody (Tweed Fender Deluxe), High Power Twin (50’s Tweed Fender Twin), and Tchula (a blend of both settings).
All of the above offer significant appeal, but my favourites here are the Tweed Drive and the Les Lius - of which I’m definitely getting the former, and may well swing for the latter at some stage!
Pedals are listed in order of enclosure size from small to large.
A pretty nice and chimey Tweed Drive with selectable Blue and Red Channels or Clean and Driven modes and an impressive 3-band EQ. You can set the footswitch in either on/off or Blue/Red switching mode - sure it's a digital pedal, but it's also something of a mini wonder and one of the better ones from Mooer's Micro PreAmp range - it's worth a look-in.
This was a 4 way battle for a while - where I was considering this one up against the discontinued Wampler '57 Tweed, the new Mad Professor Little Tweedy and the new Vertical '59 Sound from Zvex. There is of course a mix of criteria that goes into any decision making process, which includes feature set / control topology - inclusion of separate boost footswitch etc. In theory the Zvex form factor should appeal to me the most, but I am somehow drawn to the Tweed Drive - which is my personal choice in the compact category and will be added to the spice rack before long.
Like many pedals of its ilk - this one is tuned to cover a few of the early Fender Tweed style amps, and with its 3-band EQ has a lot of versatility and tone-sculpting ability onboard. There are a few medium enclosure Tweed style pedals - typically though just of the 3 dial variety, so this is very much my first choice in its category. Sounds great too as Brett Kingman demonstrates above.
These aren't typically in wide distribution, and you often have to be quick to snap one up as they are made in small batches. That said, there seem to be a number available right now. As per the intro above - the magic of this pedal is the twin footswitches alongside the 3-way mode selector - which gives you Tweed Fender Deluxe, Tweed Fender Twin and Tchula voicings - combined. Even though you have only two dials - volume and gain - the different voicings and settings give you a significant range of tones. This is one of the many Lovepedal secret weapons that pro players have been deploying for years.
I occasionally forget that I have the Bearfoot FX Sparkling Yellow OD 3 which does get me very much into Fender Tweed style territory, but it's not really a dedicated pedal for that task - and I really need to get one such. Each of the above pedals has its pros and cons, while they will all sound pretty decent in the mix.
I am though likely to stick with the compact format I like so well - and go for the Tweed Drive - I may just get one of the others in that category too. Other players may get different mileage out of each of these, but there are enough alternatives available and mentioned above - to give you possibly more pertinent choices.
I am always fascinated with the ebb and flow of the pedal marketplace - where certain types of pedals are in decline for some makers - while on the upswing for others! The Tweed category being and excellent case in point!