Nordvang ’83 Drive V2.0 review: A faithful recreation of widely used drive circuits all in one box
Featuring a heavyweight pairing of two of the most lauded overdrive circuits ever created, will the ’83 Drive from Denmark’s Nordvang Custom bring home the bacon?
Because one classic overdrive just isn’t enough, Danish designer Henrik Nordvang produces a range of dual and triple pedals based around various combinations of Klon, Blues Breaker and Tube Screamer circuits. The ’83 Drive features an original ‘black box’ Blues Breaker-style circuit in side A, and a Klon type in side B… with a few refinements such as switchable pedal order and different clipping options.
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Producing each pedal by hand and favouring a ‘quality over quantity’ approach, Nordvang uses the very best full-size components possible – including NOS germanium diodes, Vishay metal film resistors, Wima capacitors, Pure Tone jacks, Carling footswitches and Vimex sealed potentiometers. All of which explains the high prices… and the long waiting lists.
Owners past and present of the original Marshall Blues Breaker pedal of the 90s may well have fond memories of its sweet edge-of-breakup tones, but are likely to be less enamoured of its compromises – notably a less than stellar output volume, lack of headroom and limited EQ options.
Nordvang has conquered these inadequacies in side A of the ’83 Drive by bumping up the internal voltage to 18V for increased headroom, increasing the output with an additional gain stage, adding true bypass and offering a tweaker’s delight of internal dip-switches for symmetrical/asymmetrical clipping, high/low gain, and hard/soft clipping. Up on top, gain, volume and tone controls are joined by a three-way switch for shaping the bass response.
Side B is Nordvang’s faithful recreation of the legendary Klon Centaur circuit. Accompanying the output volume, gain and treble controls is a clipping switch allowing selection of either NOS germanium or Schottky diodes.
The name, by the way, is a nod to the John Mayer song 83 – he’s a big fan of both Blues Breakers and Klons.
Breaking out our rosewood-board Strat with a black-panel Deluxe Reverb and an AC30 – and grabbing our original Blues Breaker and Klon pedals for reference – side A of the ’83 produces a beautifully rich and warm breakup, with plenty of punch and dynamic range. Retaining all the characteristic compression and drive of the original Marshall pedal, it also brilliantly tackles some of its less-loved qualities by improving the headroom and output, as well as taming the troublesome low end with that finely tuned three-way switch.
Switching to side B, we’re reminded why the original Klon is such a great circuit: here are mids-rich singing tones aplenty, just about the best boost ever and that perfect blend of warm overdrive and high-headroom clarity as you wind up the gain. The highest compliment we can pay the Nordvang next to out near-mythical original Klon is that we genuinely couldn’t tell them apart.
With the prices of ‘legendary’ pedals now reaching stratospheric heights, even those lucky enough to own original units may think twice about chucking them on the floor at the local jam night. If you are looking for no-compromise recreations of a couple of the most widely worshipped overdrive circuits ever, in one box, then the ’83 Drive is a no-brainer… as long as you can find one.
- PRICE £320 plus import fees
- DESCRIPTION Dual overdrive pedal, made in Denmark
- CONTROLS Side A gain, volume, tone, 3-way lows switch, internal dip-switches for hard/soft clipping, high/low gain, symmetrical/asymmetrical clipping; Side B gain, treble, output, switch for clipping diodes, internal presence control; AB/BA effect order switch
- FEATURES Side A true bypass, side B buffered bypass; powered by 9V power supply only
- DIMENSIONS 145 x 121 x 35 mm
- CONTACT nordvangcustom.com