Attention! UFO! And yes, it starts strong! Here is the XAct Tone Solutions Winford Drive, an overdrive-distortion that has established itself as THE reference for studios in Nashville. Tom Bukovac, Tim Pierce, Guthrie Trapp… The best session men use this pedal which, as we will see, is quite exceptional!
Light case, well finished, super quality PCB and parts, everything is there for the Winford to follow you for many years. We appreciate the fact of having all the connections on top, a compact box as well as a foot-switch without clicking. As for the controls, we find the usual Volume, Gain and Tone. But also a Presence button and a Mid Boost button. Controls which, as we will see, are extremely effective.
Les Paul on the knees on a Two-Rock Studio Signature, we start with everything at 12:00 and the gain at 09:00. Immediately, we are struck by a small significant detail... My god, it's dense. No, sorry, it's not dense, it's FAT and rich. Because yes guitarist friends, from memory, with so little gain (reminder: 09:00), we have only very, very rarely heard a drive giving so much thickness and body to each note. Indeed, even with a very limited gain, the density of each note and their sustain are just huge. Added to this, an extraordinary dynamic. It's full of nuances, it reacts to the slightest difference in attack with an ultra-wide dynamic range. By pushing the gain a little, you gain in fluidity, but it is by playing on the Mid Boost and the EQ that the pedal reveals its full potential.
Let's talk a bit about this Mid Boost. He is clearly the lethal weapon of the thing. Basically, you turn the knob and you gain more or less in thickness by acting on the lower medium and upper medium. So the more you push, the more you have a "full" drive and the more you can be heard through the mix. Which generally is quite the opposite. All this, in an extremely musical way, by sculpting your sound to measure, thanks to the Presence and Tone buttons which react to the quarter turn. Of course, by pushing the gain, you increase the ultra fluid, linked, dense and rich side of this superb overdrive, which goes, moreover, to the good big distortion (be careful, nothing vulgar, super-compressed, over scooped etc...)
The magic of this Winford XTS lies in its extreme versatility, thanks to the countless number of shades available. Also, its dynamics and its quite extraordinary touch-sensitive side. And finally, the fact that the Winford sounds in all styles, with almost all types of microphones and on almost any amp. And yes, because thought like a little Swiss army knife of the perfect session guitarist, it has to sound, everywhere and in all circumstances. A must-have that every serious guitarist should have in their arsenal!