You can often get a sense of how ‘boutiquey’ a pedal is by how it’s presented in the box. The Vemuram Jan Ray overdrive pedal is so damn boutique that it doesn’t come in a velvet bag or a square of cheesecloth; it’s contained in a neatly folded piece of brown paper. It also comes with a teeny tiny screwdriver, a sticker and an instruction sheet – simple.
A RAY OF LIGHT
There are four controls (and they’re not labelled on the pedal itself, so you might want to memorize them): Volume and Gain on the top row, and Bass and Treble on the bottom row. There’s a fifth control hidden from view though, and this is where that teeny little screwdriver comes into it. There’s a Saturation trim pot on the top of the pedal - turn it to the left to increase the amount of saturation, or to the right to decrease it. Then there’s the usual input and output jacks, 9v DC power supply jack and a true-bypass on/off switch. The finish is an alluring gold-ish hue; it’s pretty damn beautiful. So here’s the deal with the Vemuram Jan Ray: it’s described as ’The Fender Magic 6 sound’. In other words, it’s inspired by the magic that happens to certain Fender amps when the Volume and Treble are on 6, Middle on 3 and Bass on 2 (6, 6, and 3X2 = 6, geddit?). The pedal is designed to offer a very natural-feeling compression but is mainly aimed at giving you those punchy, clear tones of 60s Blackface Fender amps with a crispness on the top along with warmth and softness in the lows.
IF YOU’RE 5-5-5 I’M…
The first thing you’ll notice about this pedal is that it’s great for clean tones, and the high end doesn’t get harsh so much as clear and airy, which makes it great for brightening up a dark-sounding guitar. The lows never get too ‘boomy’, and they generally feel supportive rather than overpowering. The midrange feels a little bit scooped at lower gain levels, but as you increase the Gain control you’ll notice an increase in midrange fullness along with a ‘smooshy’, smooth saturation. Great for getting some extra mojo out of an ES- 335 or some fatness out of an otherwise thin-sounding Strat. The Saturation trimmer is a very handy little feature. At the lower end of the spectrum this gives you finer control over the amount of drive because you can really dial in the ‘in-between’ response, or it lets you really crank it for a richer, more distort-y overdrive.
This is a very classy, sophisticated-sounding overdrive that rewards the player with nuanced technique: if you’re more of a gleeful basher you’ll probably prefer something a bit more ragged around the edges compared to this pedal’s more dignified, refined approach to overdrive.
For more information, visit the Guitar Factory website.
Hits and Misses
Great range of cleans and dirtys
Sweet mids at higher gain settings
No labels on the control!