Seymour Duncan 805 Overdrive Effects Pedal Review


While Seymour Duncan will always be primarily known for their huge catalog of pickups, they have quietly amassed an impressive lineup of guitar effects pedals in recent years. From the Catalina Chorus to the Dirty Deed Distortion, and a whole lot more in between, Duncan's effects display the same sensibility as their pickups -- great quality and construction with a unique twist thrown in from time to time. Today, we're taking the 805 Overdrive for a spin, an OD pedal inspired by the legendary Ibanez TS808 and TS9 Tube Screamer. Does the 805 Overdrive live up to the legacy of the Tube Screamer (or the Ducan name, for that matter)? Read on to find out.


The Features Of The Duncan 805 Distortion

Before we get into the specifics of the 805 OD, here's a little bit of background info: This pedal was originally designed with the same chip found in the 808 Tube Screamer as its basis but Duncan eventually decided to go with the MC33178 due it's it's enhanced tonal capabilities and better battery life. So while the 805 remains true to the general Tube Screamer-style overdrive sound, it differs in a few key areas. More on that when we get to the Sound section below.

Like every other Duncan effects pedal we've had the chance to review, the 805 Overdrive features a superb build, quality paint job, and an overall high-quality feel. While I haven't been using the 805 for more than a week, I've had the Catalina Chorus on my board for about a year now and taking into consideration their very similar build, I can confidently say that this OD pedal should last you years of regular use.

Aside from the chip, another huge differentiator from the Ibanez Tube Screamer and many similar designs in the expanded EQ controls. While many screamer type pedals mimic the original's three controls -- Level, Drive (Gain), and Tone -- the 805 features independent EQ controls instead of an overall Tone control. This gives it a level of precision above most of these pedals. And as anyone who has used these types of overdrives can tell you, that's a pretty big deal.


duncan 805 overdriveSeymour Duncan 805 Overdrive @ $179.00

The 805 Overdrive can be used to give your sound a boost with full overtones or to provide harmonically rich heavy gain with warm tube character. It's extensively developed and refined to be the perfect overdrive for pushing the front end of an already distorted amp, giving you plenty of output and tone-shaping capability whether you play hard rock, prog, metal, djent or whatever other heavy styles you'd like to throw at it.



The Sound Of The 805 Overdrive

If you're familiar with Tube Screamer-style overdrive effects pedals, you'll be right at home with the Duncan 805. One of the reasons these type of overdrives are so popular is the way they gradually distort the signal. More than just a simple gain pedal, they add sustain, edge, and harmonic liveliness, all while retaining the instrument's natural tone. The 805 definitely delivers on that end, although it does things a little differently -- better, in my opinion.

Compared to the original Tube Screamer, it sounds a lot tighter, especially in the bottom end (and this is with the Bass setting at its mid position). Another huge difference is the amount of articulation and touch response the 805 consistently delivers, even at higher gain settings. Instead of getting muddy or cloudy, the 805 keeps on giving a nice OD tone that is clear enough to hear every note but with enough growl for that classic rock or blues vibe. Hook it up to a good tube amp, raise the gain a bit and you will get a crunchy ‘70s blues-rock sound worthy of Stevie Ray Vaughan (an avid user of the Tube Screamer).

As mentioned above, the 805 features three EQ knobs -- Bass, Mids, and Treble -- instead of the typical Tone knob found on the Tube Screamer and its many clones. While this might not seem like much at first blush, it actually gives the 805 a huge amount of versatility. Yes, you can easily dial in the boosted mids and scooped low end to make it sound like Tube Screamer, but it can also do so much more. Whether you're after an overall clean sound with just a little bit of grit, a full-blown fat crunch, or even tones tailor-made for solos with a ton of sustain, it's all in there. All in all, the amount of variety will definitely surprise you and I will go as far as to say that this is the best Tube Screamer type OD pedal out there, period.

Check out the Seymour Duncan 805 Overdrive in action for yourself below:



Final Thoughts ...

If you're a fan of Tube Screamer-style overdrive pedals, do yourself a favor and check out the Duncan 805 right now. Not only does it manage to check all the boxes you would expect with these type of ODs, it manages to be harmonically richer and cleaner with controls that give you more precision and variety than the original Tube Screamer ever could. Throw in the high-quality construction and great price tag and you have a definite winner in our book!

If you have any questions regarding the purchase of the Seymour Duncan 805 Overdrive or any other piece of gear we carry, don't hesitate to chat with one of our friendly PAL pros by using the live chat feature below or by calling us toll-free at 1 877-671-2200!



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