In case you’re in any doubt what genre the T-Rex Alberta II Dual Overdrive‘s designers had in mind, it’s blue. It’s also pretty expensive, at $279. Does the world need another expensive blues overdrive? That’s between you and your credit card, but if you are in the market for a professional-sounding overdrive, the Alberta II might be for you.
It’s actually two pedals in one, hence the II. What you get is identical controls for both sides — dual levels drives and tones, which double as the pedal’s “on” lights. “I” is a more compressed tube-under-duress sound, and “II” sounds pretty much the same but opens things up a bit, like an old Marshall and an old Fender. Oddly, it isn’t possible to cascade one channel into the other, Stevie Ray Vaughan-style, and it won’t distort that much, but when you get past the pedal’s limitations, meandering into its possibilities is like finding an Eames chair when you expected a rocket-powered barstool.
Alberta II’s channels are highly complementary, for a start. Set one up as your lead and the other up as your rhythm, and you can happily toggle between the two all night. Second, the pedal’s drives are eminently usable even when they’re dimmed; it’s impossible to overdo it. In a world where mega-distortion is the norm, that’s a huge boon. Listen to metal that has stood the test of time and you’ll realize the guitars aren’t actually all that distorted. Third, each channel has a fat boost, which levels the playing field for single coils.
What you actually get, then, is two very tasty, tasteful overdrives bound together in a fairly compact shell. T-Rex has set very sensible limits for what this pedal will and won’t do, which might initially seem constricting, but it ultimately frees you up to pick between two classic tones. – Howard Stock
Try the Alberta II at The Deli’s Brooklyn Stompbox Exhibit on October 19-20