Nowadays, the myth of the guitar-hero playing 7min54 instrumentals at the speed of light is no longer really a dream and the great mythical bands are becoming increasingly rare. However, a few rare talented musicians still manage to exert a significant influence on an entire generation of guitarists. This is the case of John Mayer, who, with his excellent sound culture, is one of the guitarists that many want to get closer to, this of course because of his playing, but also because of his sound signature which mixes nuances, solid light, extreme dynamics, organic drive and sobriety. The young man being a fan of gear, it is necessary to have the right tools and the right amp (in addition to a strato) to approach the much sought after "Mayer sound". If one is interested in the career of the artist, there is no doubt that he works his sound in a very successful way with always a - good taste - affirmed from one album to another.
It's this sound he's been cultivating for years that Nordvang wanted to recreate with this pedal called "'83 Drive". The basis of reflection being the very specific sound that John Mayer has on most of his albums and live.
Let's talk a bit about the interface. Out of the "superb" box provided by the brand, the pedal is impressive due to its dimensions. Indeed, it is roughly the size of two BOSS type pedals. This is explained by the fact that the '83 Drive is a two-channel pedal, with on one side, Channel A which uses the specifications of the Marshall Bluesbreaker (black box) dear to JM. And on the other side the mythical KLON Centaur. Association that JM has been supporting for many years. On the left, slice A benefits from the usual Drive, Tone and Level controls as well as a mini toggle switch called LOWS. The toggle switch allows you to modify the bass response. Internally, you find four DIP switches to control gain, soft-clipping, symmetrical/asymmetrical clipping, and hard clipping, which allow you to further modify your sound. The circuit is completely identical to the original, but Nordvang has added a true-bypass and an 18V power stage for maximum headroom. The many additional settings really allow you to sculpt your sound in a much more precise and versatile way than the original pedal.
On the right, channel B takes up the circuit of the KLON, another pedal which is one of the pillars of the Mayer sound. We are entitled to a Gain, Treble, Output control and a toggle switch that will allow you to modify the clipping by choosing either a pair of NOS Sylvania 1N34A diodes, or a pair of Schottky.
There is also a last switch that will reverse the order of the two slices as you see fit.
As mentioned above, the two circuits are identical to the originals except for one detail: the quality of the components. At Nordvang, we only use the best: Vishay 1%, Wima MKP10, MKS4 and FKP2 film capacitors, Vimex knobs, Carling switches, Pure Tone jacks, silver plated teflon insulated wiring, etc…
So how do you best use this '83 Drive? Well, a very good stratocaster in an excellent clean channel, that would already be a good start. Ideally, like the King Tone Guitar The Duellist, the '83 Drive having been developed on a Two-Rock amp, the combination of these two racehorses will give you all the quintessence of sound you can expect. John Mayer himself using this configuration. Add to that a discrete compressor upstream of the Norvang and you have most of the holy grail at your fingertips. All you need is your fingers!
Guitar in hand, plugged into a Two-Rock Traditional 100W, the '83 Drive delivers everything you need. Enormous dynamics, a very fast response, a "fat" side, dense, very thick in the mids that takes you through the mix by adding just the right amount of gain to your clean sound. This clean sound is there, present, the '83 Drive acting as a "layer" on top of it, preserving all the original dynamics of your clean sound, but adding sustain, thickness and fluidity. Close your eyes, the sound is there, you just have to interpret what you want. Compared to the Gravity, the '83 Drive is positioned on the same niche but with more gain in reserve due to the BB slice.
With the '83 Drive , Henrik Nordvang achieves the feat of combining high standards, extreme quality and musicality. Nothing is left to chance and you can feel the passion that he put into making this pedal. It's not only an excellent work of electronics, but being himself a fan of the artist, it allowed him to go where he wanted with the one and only goal, to propose a way to appropriate the his Mayer as faithfully as possible. The '83 Drive
is not only a tool dedicated to the Mayer sound, but indeed a pedal of unparalleled musicality, which will allow you to sculpt your custom sound, by bringing it what all guitarists need: a sound which takes up a lot of space!