Submitted by Neil from Auckland (26 points) on Jun 25, 2009
Note: the Nadine's Overdrive is the VestaFire Overdrive badged "Nadine's". Why? Who knows. Started production in the late 70's and into the early 80's and eventually disappeared from the market. The chassis is die-cast with a plastic back with battery cover. Controls are "Level" and "Drive" with an unusual on/off switch button, also die cast. It takes your regular 9V battery and has a 9V power supply socket factory-fitted. This pedal is rumoured to be a TS808 clone to the extent of being a copy. So I thought the best way to test this would be to do shootout between a Maxon OD808, a TS808 reissue, an original TS808, a TS808 Hand-wired and the VestaFire Overdrive. Price varies but the tone should be similar between them all. Wrong!! The range was in fact exactly that, a range. The reissue pedal was a little disappointing. It lacked clarity and a bit of sustain simply. The Maxon OD808 was smoother with more clarity and sweet harmonics. Very nice. Then I fired up the TS808 hand-wired. I don't know what Ibanez did when they made these but they nailed it! This is a sweet sounding unit. Everything you would expect from a true TS808. Blistering harmonics, smooth and full bottom end and great sustain. What surprised me the most is that the VestaFire sounded mostly like the hand-wired! What a great little pedal. But the winner was the original TS808 but only by a whisker. I would like to point out at this stage that the VestaFire was NOS and still in it's plastic wrap. Maybe after 20 years of use it may have the same tone as the original TS808. Well after this little revelation I decided to crack open the bonnet and see what was under the hood. And wadda ya know it was sporting a JRC4558 chip just like its cousin the TS808. The circuit appears very similar with the exception of the tone control. After some investigation it appears the VestaFire Overdrive used a few different chips (as did the TS808) and the main one was an AN6552 and the other the JRC4558 (a little more rare). These two chips do have very similar characteristics and you probably should not expect too much difference between the two in this circuit. There is also a rumour being thrown about that the Vesta Fire is the pedal that gave Brian Setzer his tone in the late 70's. Conclusion: if you like the original TS808 sound and you find a Vesta Fire Overdrive...buy it!!!
Good Points: The tone! This pedal is great. Its now a permanent member of my pedalboard. Its also cheap because people have no idea what they are or how they sound. I would buy one of these over a TS808 reissue any day.
Bad Points: No tone control! The pedal has a bit of roll off but still too squeaky for most people's liking. This can be remedied with a small mod from someone who knows what they're doing. Plastic back not too cool. I can see it being a problem if you're a bit rough with your gear. Battery cover needs a jimmy-bar to get in. Overall pedal feels a bit light-weight.