With the Blackbird Deluxe, VS Audio continues to delight us with high-quality overdrive pedals. The Flush was "British" oriented, but with this Blackbird, the Greek brand offers us the Fender sound at our toes. The icing on the cake, this Deluxe version incorporates a bias-type tremolo.
The VS Audio Blackbird is built around a compact and quality chassis. This one adopts a graphic of the most beautiful effect. In terms of controls, we find the classic Volume, Drive and Tone for the Drive slice, with the little secret trick that goes well: the 2 mini-toggle switches. The first switch called "era" allows you to switch between two modes, Blackface '65 and Brownface '63. The second switch named "Channel" allows you to switch from a Normal to Bright channel. Via the footswitch, you can activate an additional gain stage. For the Tremolo slice, classic, a Speed for the speed and an Intensity for the depth of the effect. Inside it's high-end PCB, with perfect assembly and soldering. All powered by 9V 10mA.
To best use this VS Audio Blackbird Deluxe, a nice clean channel with headroom will be the most recommended. Stratocaster in hand, we start in position 63 with the foot-switch in "reduced" Gain mode. Immediately, we note a decisive factor which propels this pedal far ahead of many other ODs of the same kind available on the market. This difference is the attack. Indeed, the Blackbird Deluxe perfectly mimics the attack and natural compression of an old Fender of its kind. This side slightly "boxy" a little dirty, with a very marked "squash", an attack that crashes. It's all there and, clearly, it's extremely rare! In terms of grain, it's ultra amp-like with very slightly fuzzy high frequencies (small Tweed side) with just enough gain. By switching to the second Gain mode and raising it, we obtain a more pronounced drive, with this unique sound signature pushed to the extreme. It's vintage, it just needs to be attacked hard to get into it and it reacts instantly.
On the Blackface 65 position, we get a more precise, rounder, cleaner sound. Typical of the period. The pedal offers a light, smooth drive with full notes while keeping the amount of gain limited. By pushing the Gain again, you get a 100% vintage OD with more binder and sustain. OD that can be associated with a TS or Klon type pedal, to attack its stronger input stage and generate pushed lead sounds, typically American.
The Tremolo part is not left out. The Deluxe delivers quality Bias Tremolo. It is warm, round, with a curve of its own. It's typical of the era: a tremolo that has binding, that is fluid and soft. This modulates the pedal's analog JFET output stage, like an amp, through an on-board field effect transistor.
The VS Audio Blackbird Deluxe is a superb overdrive-tremolo and one of the few that can accurately reproduce the grain of a Fender amp pushed to its limits. A pedal that will easily replace an amp channel and will be the perfect companion for those looking for vintage low-gain with legendary voicing. Good job!