Calamity Drive - Plain SpeakAug 10 2022
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The Calamity Drive is a brilliant and versatile overdrive/boost that was developed by the midwest emo/indie rock band Plain Speak.
Plain Speak is a band led by Dan Pechacek (product designer at Old Blood Noise Endeavors) and Ben See. As far as I understand, Ben mainly designed the look of the pedal while Dan developed the circuit.
Plain Speak was using that drive pedal a lot during their recording session for their next album Calamity, so they named the drive after the album title.
The Calamity Drive was designed to be Dan's signature overdrive. A drive that does exactly what inspires him most to play and create music.
And it happens to do the same for me. For a long time, my go-to overdrive was the Smallsound/Bigsound Mini (as you might have noticed, I use it a lot for demos as my foundational overdrive). The Calamity Drive now shares the throne with the Mini. I literally can't decide which one I like the most.
According to Dan's explanations, the drive section is based around a Tubesceamer. This is crazy to me because I'm not really a TS fan. But with all the tweaks and additional controls, the Calamity rips.
I love how articulate and chimey the drive gets with a very pleasing compression. The voice control is key here. It changes which frequencies are affected the most by the clipping stage. Turning it clockwise makes the drive sound more clangy and bright. Turning it down makes it feel more fat and woolly.
The articulation toggle controls the amount of "clean bleed". You can choose between a little (+), no bleed (o) and a lot of clean signal (++) coming through. The toggle is pretty subtle on guitar. It's most noticable with the goose boost engaged or with a bass guitar.
This is also why this is a killer bass overdrive. I like it with the articulation on ++, and I use the voice control around 3 o'clock. This gives a nice saturated bass sound, with lots of bottom end and presence.
And that goose section is a great dirty boost. Use it to add a little more crunch, as a standalone boost to stack with other pedals or turn it up to get into fuzz territory.
For all parts and tracks on this demo, the only drive pedal I used was the Calamity Drive. It's so freaking versatile and great for chimey chords, thick powerchords, fuzzy leads lines and everything in between.
- Fidelity Guitars Stellarosa Lite II (Lollar Firebirds, middle position)
- Calamity Drive
- Strymon Iridium (Chime)
There were quite a few overdubs towards the end of the loop with various pickup and Calamity Drive settings. I tried to find a balance between filling out the mix and letting the main guitar still stand out.
- Fidelity Guitars Stellarosa Lite II for all tracks
- Both pickups, Calamity Drive on a chimey drive setting and the Walrus Audio Slö, hard panned left and right for the more ambient arpeggios
- Bridge pickup and more satured setting with goose engaged on the Calamity Drive, stacked with the BOSS DM-2w Delay for lead lines
- Some power chords buried in the mix to make it fuller, with a woollier Calamity Drive setting and a mix of darker pickup configurations
- Upper octaves of the riff with a more aggressive Calamity Drive, goose engaged. On my guitar, there is a low-pass filter switch (like turning down a tone knob to 0%) and a switch to engage series pickup mode (higher output, fatter tone). I used a mix of pickup configs with the same setting on the Calamity drive and hard-panned the tracks
- JMJ Mustang, D'Addario half-round strings, played with pick, tone 100%
- Calamity Drive (art. ++, gain a little above noon, voice 3 o'clock)
- Keeley Compressor Mini
- Strymon Iridium (round) with bass cabs
- GarageBand Drummer Gavin (indie rock) on the Brooklyn kit
- Whole kit treated with the stock GarageBand RAT-style pedal plugin
The whole mix was "mastered" with exciter, limiter and mild compression in the DAW.
- Get detailed specs on Plain Speak's website
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