While there is barely a handful of Blackface or Brownface Amp-style overdrives out there in the wild - you even more rarely get both varieties in a single pedal. And never as neatly contained as here - where dual option toggle-switches allow you to set Low and High Gain Modes (+6dB of gain) across both Brownface and Blackface Voicings.
So we have a neat demarcation of the two types, and with the Brownface Voicing pushing slightly more mids. Meaning that it’s incredibly easy to flip between distinct Voicings versus the typical purely EQ-pot-based solutions.
The Tone Stack deployed here is a dual passive RC-Filter Big Muff style arrangement which comes after the first gain stage - so more Treble CW and More Bass CCW. There is also filtering after the second gain stage.
The core of the circuit is a combination of MOSFET and JFET chipsets - to properly replicate those bright Fender amp-style tones. The first stage is a simple MOSFET booster, followed by 2 stages of Mu-amp JFETs, and with a JFET buffer at the end for better impedance regulation.
The first edition of the circuit only had the ERA switch - which is really a Tone Shift for Mid Frequencies. This rendered rather as a fairly neutral / simple preamp, but where Panos felt that the circuit could do with a little boost in gain. Volume is already highly impressive at +26dB over the range, and the added Gain Boost / High Gain Mode delivers an extra +6dB of gain.
This is another great example of the most versatility delivered by those 5 simple controls. This is one pedal that should be very quick and easy to dial in - and gives you plenty of versatility and range to get the full spectrum of pristine Fender style tones - both the High-Headroom and the more naturally compressing saturation texture.
My good pal Panos explained how through the breadboarding exercise a number of different components and component types were tested - both full-size THT and tiny SMT. And in the end only the JFETs were rendered as SMT type - as the full-size THT Resistors and Capacitors sounded noticeably better than the SMT alternatives - making this a perfect sort of hybrid build, but mostly THT.
The BlackBird Dual-Voice Overdrive is available from today direct from the VS Audio Webstore, and other prestige dealers - priced at €179 and equivalent.
MIDNIGHT IN HARLEM is a Low Gain Blackface Voicing.
TEXAS FLOOD is a High Gain Blackface Voicing.
JUST GOT PAID is a High Gain Brownface Voicing