We’re always looking forward to the next Mike Zito session for all of the reason mentioned in the article featured elsewhere in this issue of Riff. But there’s one more reason — he always has a great gear tip for us that we take advantage of immediately. We’d like to share one of them with you here…namely the Quilter Overdrive 200.
Mike had just returned from a European tour prior to coming in for his most recent session here at TrueFire’s studios. As he’s setting up his gear for the shoot, Mike pulls out his Quilter Overdrive 200, a small almost pedal-sized amp, and sets it on top of our Fender Super and prepares to bypass the amp and plug it directly into the speaker cabinet.
Mike told us that the Quilter was his go-to amp when touring because he could reliably dial in his tone using virtually any decent speaker cab available in the backline. This is particularly a life-saver when touring Europe.
We wound up plugging the Quilter into our Ox and recording direct to the board, but eventually ran the Quilter through its paces on a variety of cabs that we have on hand in the studio. In short, we were very impressed, we shouted out to the company to learn more, bought a few for ourselves, and even featured the amp in one of our promotions last year.
“Mike told us that the Quilter was his go-to amp when touring because he could reliably dial in his tone using virtually any decent speaker cab available in the backline.”
There are so many qualities about this amp that appeal to us, and as you would expect, we show it off to other artists that come through the door. They are likewise impressed and usually add one to their own arsenal.
We asked Peter Melton of Quilter Performance Amplification to write up a description for us to share here in Riff and we’ve also included several links to online demos. We think you’ll dig it!
The Overdrive 200 was inspired by legendary and often unobtainable amplifiers — Blackface-era amplifiers and their early boutique modified copies — with a goal of bringing these iconic tones within reach of the average musician.
In addition to looking at classic Fender amplifiers, we also got our hands on an original Mesa Boogie Mark IIC+ that belonged to our sales manager and a highly regarded Dumble Overdrive Special copy.
We are pleased to report that not only did we nail the Mark IIC+ sound so well that our sales manager sold his collectable original, but after the Overdrive 200 was done we got a chance to sit in a studio with a real Dumble Overdrive Special and were able to dial them in so we could hardly tell the difference!
Packed inside this little four-pound amp are 200 watts of real-world power and four different modes with distinct overdrive characterizes and voicings for versatility on the go.
The Overdrive 200 accepts a standard “Marshall style” two position foot-switch with or without LED’s. You can also access all of the modes without a foot-switch by using the onboard switches in the Drive Channel section. The amp powers up with the Clean Channel. This channel has a Gain control, passive Bass and Treble controls, and an active cut/boost Mid control. Decreasing the mid control below halfway gives you the famous “Blackface” scoop. Increasing the mid control beyond halfway brings out the elusive Dumble inspired vocal quality.
Although it is called the Clean Channel, this channel is capable of some wonderful bluesy low gain tones. Just increase the Gain control. Like all Quilter amplifiers, the Overdrive 200 reacts extremely well to your guitar’s pickups and volume control. Players can go from “mean to clean” on the Clean Channel with just the twist of their volume knob. Using the foot-switch or the onboard mode switches, you can switch over to the Crunch mode for the next level of gain.
“Players can go from “mean to clean” on the Clean Channel with just the twist of their volume knob.”
This mode defeats the EQ controls and inserts a factory dialed-in preset midrange scoop for a tight low to medium gain sound. You can conveniently dial in how much dirt you want and balance it with the Clean Channel with the Drive Channel’s Gain and Level controls.
Turn off Crunch Mode and engage Lead mode to generate tones from Talk to your Daughter to Awake. The Clean Channel’s EQ controls are shared with the Lead mode and are inserted after the gain section of the amplifier like a real Dumble and Mark IIC+ for dynamic overdrive tone shaping.
The Gain control has an extremely wide range on this mode and is capable of everything from edge-of-break-up to rip-your-face-off tones. Lastly, engage both the Crunch and Lead modes for an unrefined and aggressive high gain tone.
The Overdrive 200 runs on a switching power supply so not only can you plug it in anywhere in the world, but it is also totally unfazed by power dips and surges at your local bar gigs or generator-powered stages. The switching power supply self-adjusts so that you don’t hear any tonal changes and nothing in the amp gets damaged.
On the back of the Overdrive 200 is our highly regarded Direct Out, which will reproduce the sound of putting a microphone in front of the cabinet. Our Direct Out actually copies the frequency response curve of whatever cabinet you plug into and sends that sound to the house. Gigging on a silent stage? Fear not, no speaker load required. Go direct and use your own outside cabinet simulation for great tone without blasting away the front row.
The Overdrive 200 responds to being pushed by drive or boost pedals like the best tube amps. It also has an effects loop so you can easily insert your modulation, delays, and reverbs after the overdrive section of the amplifier. The bottom of the Overdrive 200 is also perfectly flat for easy pedalboard mounting. Just remove the feet and Velcro it down as you would do with any of your favorite effects pedals.
“The Gain control has an extremely wide range on this mode and is capable of everything from edge-of-break-up to rip-your-face off tones.”
All in all, the Overdrive 200 might just be the most versatile and powerful compact amplifier on the market today. TrueFire artists Mike Zito and Tim Miller rely on their Overdrive 200 for all of these reasons.