Warm Audio ODD Box – shameless copy or act of gear democratisation?
Warm Audio’s latest ‘very faithful’ replication of a classic pedal aims to make the recently discontinued Fulltone OCD available for everyone, but are they going a bit far?
Warm Audio’s slogan is ‘Faithful recreations. Legendary sounds’ and the Texan brand has certainly upped the ante on what ‘faithful’ means since it made the leap from making mics and studio gear into guitar pedals back in 2020. Because while there are dozens of companies out there producing faithful recreations of classic pedal sounds, very few of them also look to replicate the aesthetics quite so, er, faithfully… as Warm Audio does.
How you feel about that might depend on the pedal in question – nobody’s too bothered about making pedals that look exactly like a discontinued thing like a Foxx Tone Machine… but what about a Hermida Audio Zendrive? Alfonso Hermida might be licensing the construction to Lovepedal now but you can still order one… is ripping off the look and sound of an existing boutique pedal a step too far?
Into this quandary steps the ODD Box, which is, as you will have no doubt realised by now, a very close recreation of the legendary Fulltone OCD, right down to the distinctive thumbscrews on the side of the enclosure and the Comic Sans on the logo. And here’s where things get even muddier.
Back in 2020, Fulltone head honcho Michael Fuller made himself the main character of the guitar internet for a few days thanks to some ill-judged comments he made about the actions of some Black Lives Matter protesters on Facebook, and then the language he used to respond to people calling him out for those comments. Coming as it did within days of the murder of George Floyd, the consequences were swift and severe – Guitar Center pulled all Fulltone products from its stores, Reverb ended the sale of new Fulltone products, and guitarists across the world were seen pulling Fulltone pedals from their boards or respraying/covering the logo of a brand that, in the eyes of some, had become toxic.
It’s probably not unreasonable to assume that this might have played a part in Fuller’s decision to shutter his California factory after more than 30 years in 2022, claiming the business was unprofitable. While Fuller has since promised that he will continue to make pedals on a smaller scale in Tennessee, the form and availability of of these pedals is as yet unknown, and at time of writing, with the closure of the California factory in 2022, the Fulltone OCD (and indeed all Fulltone pedals) are currently no longer in production.
That might feel like a needlessly in-depth diversion, but it’s probably an important one to bear in mind when we consider why the Warm Audio ODD Box exists in the first place. When Fuller announced the closure of his factory in 2022, the prices of used OCDs quickly spiked to almost double what they were before, and while they’ve come down a little since then, they’re still basically tracking at more than what a brand new one would cost you a few years back. So in that regard, if you want to try a Fulltone OCD in 2023, not only are your options limited to used pedals, but what would have cost you 70-80 quid before all this is now more like £150. It’s also one of the top selling used pedals on Reverb.
Now, add to that the scores of guitar players who ditched their OCDs as a matter of conscience. They probably still love the sound of the OCD – it’s a classic circuit for a reason – so surely there’s a market for someone to create a version of a pedal that isn’t weighed down by the baggage of the 2020 controversy?
When it was released last week, there were a lot of people asking why this pedal needed to exist. You will have to make your own mind up about whether it should or not, but hopefully we’ve cleared up the reasons why a company like Warm Audio would think this is a pedal that people would want in 2023, for various reasons.
Anyway, enough of that, let’s get down to business.
Warm Audio promises that this is no mere cosmetic recreation of the OCD, with through-hole construction using premium components such as the TLO82CP Op-Amp and 2N7000 transistor, and if they’re going to go to the bother of including the thumbwheels it would be rude not to take the back off and see, right? Sure enough, all is broadly as expected – while there are a few deviations and the soldering and wiring is perhaps not quite as neat as you’d have got from Fulltone, it’s pretty much identical to the innards of a V1.7 OCD (and not the V2 that included switchable bypass modes and Class A JFET input section).
The OCD became a legend thanks to its ability to replicate that most enduring of guitar lingo cliches, the ‘cranked amp tone’ in pedal format, and if you want various flavours of cooking amp-like overdrive at your feet, the ODD doesn’t disappoint. Like the OCD it has a UK/US switch which impacts both the EQ curve and the break-up character of the pedal, and both sides are eminently usable. On the US side you get scooped mids, a tighter and more focussed tone and a lower overall output, whereas the UK sound is your classic Marshall tone with plenty of mids, plenty of gain and a significantly higher volume boost (careful if you’re switching).
If you want to use it as a pure clean boost it can do that in relatively transparent form, and it’s also adept at pushing real amps into overdrive, but really it’s the dirt sounds we’re here for, and they are as wonderfully chewy as you’d expect, especially when treated to the Filter’Trons of our Gretsch in US mode – with the wick all the way up you get some of that Neil Young epicness at much less earth-shaking volumes. On the UK side you can run the gamut of classic rock drive tones verging into old-school metal at its highest reaches, with the wide-open nature of the sound being the perfect accompaniment for a Les Paul and some humbuckers.
Some people will have made their mind up about this pedal upon seeing it, but the fact is that people love the OCD circuit and likely want to buy something that sounds like it that isn’t subject to the fluctuations of the used market (or the lack of consumer rights when buying second-hand). Compared to other Warm Audio pedals this isn’t so much cheaper than the real thing that it becomes a no-brainer, but in a world where the Fulltone OCD might be getting increasingly scarce, it could look like a great price in a few years.
- PRICE $119/£111
- DESCRIPTION Overdrive pedal, made in China
- CONTROLS Volume, tone, drive, UK/US switch
- FEATURES 9V/18V operation, 9V internal clip for battery
- DIMENSIONS 114mm x 64 x 38mm
- CONTACT warmaudio.com