What is it?
Electro-Harmonix Germanium OD, “Vintage Overdrive” from XO series. Made in USA around late 00’s.
Creativity. A threat or a possibility? Sometimes it manifests itself as both. And at the same time. I got mine as used for a fair price with velcro on the bottom. By the way, you can use the detached strip to get the residue glue off the metal. Anyway. The internet had only a few guesses of how this circuit was made. This was one of motivators in play when i decided to buy one. Opened it up as usual.
And traced it. If you take my drawing and mirror it vertically, there are some similarities with Arbiter Rangemaster – but not much. The point of the design is PNP transistors reversed with negative ground and odd controls that affect resistance on both, emitter and collector side of the main transistor. Which looks a lot like remake of NKT275. Or possibly even a re-branded NKT275.
Everything about the circuit and the build quality is more or less on par with all the other modern new york manufactured EHXs. No handwiring involved and most of the circuit is made with SMD components. I brought up the creativity in the first paragraph, because this design falls easily into “drunk or genius” category.
How does it sound?
Unusual. Wouldn’t call it good, but it offers that broken 60’s tone when applied in front of a decent tube amplifier. But folks looking for an overdrive.. This may feel like an awful mistake if you are not exactly sure you know what you are getting into. OD may not be a perfect description for the sound this produces, in my opinion. I’d rather call this Germanium Warmer. If considered as a “warmer” instead of an overdrive, this might be a useful tool to nail that sixties teenage garage punk clean tones. Think of this as a Rangemaster style treble booster with full frequency range and less boost. With rather senseless controls, of course. That should land you in the correct park.
Not bad at all. But i still wouldn’t call this an OD.