Mooer Hustle Drive
Mooer’s Hustle Drive distortion pedal ($88), packs a surprising amount of versatility into a very small package. Though the Hustle Drive’s footprint is not much bigger than a couple of packs of chewing gum, you’ll find mini-knobs for volume and tone, plus a two-way switch for choosing high-peak or low-peak distortion characteristics, basically the difference between louder mids and highs or a more neutral attack.

The Hustle Drive is surprisingly good for its size—it’s hard to believe something this small can produce so much noise. But there are caveats: large as it is, for chord work the Hustle Drive’s distortion wouldn’t be my first choice. That said, the Hustle Drive adds some thick, almost tube-like girth to lead lines.

The Hustle Drive, which is made in China, is solidly built. The knobs are plastic, but everything else is hefty metal. Simple graphics and a plain white body make it clear that while this pedal is very small (the instructions also throw in “and exquisite,” in case you forget where it’s made), the Hustle Drive is definitely no toy.

Depending on how often you plan on changing settings and where you use it, the Hustle Drive’s size can be a mixed blessing. The mini-knobs are black and it’s impossible to see where they’re dialed to without either getting really close or simply feeling your way. The tiny body also means there’s no room for a battery, so you’ll need a daisy chain to power it (it’s the standard Boss-style plug). Lastly, it’s so light you’d need to secure it to a pedal board to avoid accidentally sending it skittering across the stage in an exuberant moment.

But for guitarists with only limited board space who need a decent boost for solos, the Hustle Drive is a novel and reasonably priced option. – Howard Stock