Friedman Amplification makes some of the world’s most sought-after high-end amps. Their Brown Eye 100 amp is particularly well-known for its classic British overdrive tones. For players who can’t take the full head everywhere with them, Friedman have created the Brown Eye BE-OD, which shrinks the overdrive tones of the full-size amp into this small stompbox. Full-sized Friedman tone in a portable package? Sounds good! Let’s check out what makes this one of the best overdrive pedals available.
We’re going to say it: this may be one of the best amp emulation pedals around. The BE-OD pretty much nails the tube overdrive tones of the original BE-100. The British emphasis here means it offers a brighter, extremely responsive sound great for many different styles.
However, it also offers a few unique features as seen on its bigger brother, including the wide variety of tone specialization controls. The six knobs here offer players the ability to customize everything from the traditional volume and bass EQ to the presence and thickness of their sound. Like most premium pedals, it offers true bypass switching to preserve your tone, and can be powered with anywhere between 9 and 18 volts of DC current.
The six knobs on the BE-OD are some of the most responsive controls we’ve seen on an overdrive pedal. The volume knob controls your overall signal volume, ranging from absolute quiet to the loudest possible signal. Next come the treble and bass EQ dials, unlike the passive EQ knobs found in most amps – which can only cut out certain frequencies when dialed down – these are active, meaning they add additional treble or bass sounds when cranked.
The presence knob controls the definition in your sound, either sharpening or softening your tone. The gain dial is pretty self-explanatory for this pedal, though it’s important to note that the gain settings can also be controlled from the internal trim pot – adjusting that will adjust the range of gain frequencies the knob offers. Finally, the ‘tight’ dial contours your sound. When turned up, it sharpens the midrange and focuses your signal for a much more in-your-face tone.
While it offers a decent selection of tones, this pedal can get incredibly thick when driven. Though advertised as a classic overdrive unit, the heavy tones sometimes verge on those of a traditional distortion pedal as well. Players looking for more organic classic rock overdrive might not love this – even with the gain all the way down, the BE-OD still offers loads of heavy crunch.
With the knob turned a bit past noon, it’s in full-on metal territory. Without modifying the trim pot inside the pedal to lower the gain settings, there isn’t a ton of flexibility for any player looking to avoid high-gain territory. With that being said, metal and hard rock players will love this box. The bass, treble, presence, and tight knobs offer many ways to subtly shape your tone, ranging from a bigger, more open overdrive to a tight and focused distortion.
Any player interested in an overdrive pedal offering the highest gain around should check out the Friedman BE-OD. This pedal not only has some of the heaviest overdrive and distortion on the market, but also features unique control knobs allowing an unprecedented degree of customization for your signal.