Jackson Audio The Optimist Drive

Texas’ Jackson Audio is one of the few emerging pedal builders that’s bringing innovation to an effect niche that lagged behind others in exciting features: the niche of gain pedals. Packed with features and enhanced by clever digital functionality, the company’s pedals retain an analog core while widening the player’s tonal palette and gain staging options. The Optimist is their new overdrive, created in collaboration with guitarist/producer Cory Wong.

Like most recent pedals in Jackson Audio’s roster, The Optimist has two channels with entirely separate controls and footswitches – and some shared ones.

While OD1 is based on the Klon Centaur and therefore transparent and dynamic with that classic sparkly higher mids, OD2 was designed perfectly flat across the full range.

The two drives can be played separately or stacked on top of each other, and each feature independent controls for Volume, Tone and Gain.  At the end of the chain and affecting the signal after both overdrives, there’s an extra 3-way EQ that can be turned on or off by stomping on both footswitches at once, a handy function that adds a very flexible third layer of tone to this pedal’s sonic arsenal.

But if you carefully consider all the combinations offered by this configuration, you’ll realize that the sonic options at your feet (i.e. without touching any of the knobs) are way more than three:

  1. Everything Off
  2. EQ only
  3. OD 1 only
  4. OD 2 only
  5. OD 1 + EQ
  6. OD 2 + EQ
  7. OD 1 + OD 2
  8. OD 1 + OD 2 + EQ

Eight different tones with different gain and EQ settings should be more than enough to get anyone through an entire set of songs.

There’s also going to be an “artsy” version of it, with art by OH no Type Co.

Jackson Audio The Optimist

Check out the premiere video of the Jackson Audio The Optimist. You can buy this pedal from Sweetwater while supporting this blog at no extra cost to you. We added it ot our article about the Best Klon evolutions.

Jackson Audio The Optimist, Builder’s Notes

“The Optimist is the most versatile overdrive pedal I’ve ever used. Designed to give me a full range of drive levels for punchy rhythm to soaring lead. The Klon has been this mystical and hyped-up circuit for years, and for good reason! It’s an incredible circuit, and the way it pairs with the flat response overdrive is incredible. OD1 has the mid bump Klon circuit that we know and love. OD2 has a flat response overdrive that has an incredible range of drive. When the two of them pair together it creates an even more boosted drive that doesn’t squeal! The final piece of magic is the EQ. Brad Jackson has been trying to convince me about the power of an EQ pedal for a long time, and now I know why. We created an EQ section that focuses on the frequencies that you want more of in single coils, and less of in humbuckers. The EQ can help tone shape your guitars to match each other, or it can help you get the perfect clean tone out of an amp.”

OD 1
OD1 of the OPTIMIST is based on the most expensive, hard-to-find, mythical overdrive ever created! For all of its hype, this magical pedal is still one of the most natural-sounding overdrives ever created and has cemented its reputation in the history of guitardom.

We reproduced this circuit in perfect detail to provide the stock tone that people are looking for from this legendary pedal. We updated it with an active EQ (bypass-able) to take this classic circuit into uncharted territory!

Just like the original circuit, OD1 features impossible to find (unless you know how to use eBay) germanium diodes that have been carefully washed in unicorn tears to deliver the best tone possible! Why? Because you deserve the best. You deserve diodes that have been washed in unicorn tears.

OD 2
OD2 of the OPTIMIST stands in stark contrast to the mid-focused tone of OD1. Designed to be perfectly flat across the full range of the guitar, OD2 is perfect for rhythm work and is a perfect harmonic enhancer for OD1 when you want to boost OD1 even further!

The EQ circuit features a studio-grade EQ that gives tremendous tonal flexibility to The Optimist. Based on the legendary Baxandall EQ that is featured in countless studio EQ’s, The Optimist EQ takes this circuit and tailors it for guitarists! We spent tons of time on this EQ dialing it in so it would hit all the frequencies that guitarists need to adjust and then sweetened it by removing the ear fatiguing highs and lows that can appear at extreme settings.

To activate the EQ, press and release both the OD1 and OD2 footswitches.

Studio-grade EQ with High Bandwidth and Flat Response at 12:00
+/- 12dB Boost/Cut per control
Center Detents on the pots that make it easier to get back to a neutral or flat response.

The Optimist features MIDI control over all functions! OD1, OD2 and EQ can all be controlled via MIDI for an unlimited selection of tones.
We always want to make sure that our pedals are as easy to integrate into complex rigs as they are into simple rigs and MIDI makes that happen!
CABLE INFORMATION: In order to use MIDI, you will need a cable that converts a MIDI (DIN-5) connector to a TRS cable. This is the cable that we have used with great success and can’t recommend it enough.

For those building their own cables, The Optimist receives MIDI information via the RING connection on a TRS (Tip, Ring, and Sleeve) connector.

Check out this link for some detailed wiring: https://www.midi.org/articles- old/trs-specification-adopted-and-released


By default, the The Optimist ships with MIDI Channel 1 being the selected channel. This can be changed by pressing and holding the OD 1 footswitch while applying power. Press the OD 2 footswitch to increment the MIDI channel number.

You’ll notice that as you continue to hold the OD1 footswitch, the OD 2 LED will flash to indicate which MIDI channel you have selected. IE – 7 flashes = MIDI Channel 7. After the LED flashes, we inserted a 2-second pause so you could tell when the LED was finished flashing. The LED will continue flashing as long as you are holding down the OD 1 footswitch. Once you have selected the MIDI channel you want and have verified it by counting the flashes, simply release the OD 1 footswitch and the pedal will save this MIDI Channel to the internal EEPROM on the microprocessor and reboot.


Accessing the new MIDI features is done by Control Changes. Below is a list of the features that can be accessed via MIDI as well as how to access them.

CC #1 – OD 1 ON/OFF (value of 127 = ON /value of 0 = OFF)

CC #2 – OD 2 ON/OFF (value of 127 = ON /value of 0 = OFF)

CC #3 – EQ ON/OFF (value of 127 = ON /value of 0 = OFF)


Input Impedance: 1M
Output Impedance: 100k Power Supply: DC
Voltage Input: 9V MAX Polarity: Center Negative
Min Current Required: 150mA
Dimensions: 2.7” x 4.875??