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  • Neo Instruments Drive In Overdrive

    By Phil O'Keefe |


    Will you want to park this 808 of a different color on your pedalboard?





    Germany's Neo Instruments probably isn't the most well-known pedal brand in North America, but they do have a rather large claim to fame - their Ventilator series of rotary sim pedals are considered by many musicians to be among the finest, it not the finest rotary simulators on the market. Branching out from there, they've recently released a new pedal called the Drive In Overdrive. The Drive In was designed by Guido Kirsch and Uli Rodenberg (of Rodenberg Amplification); Uli is also known for his hand-made boutique pedal designs, and the PCB he designed for the Drive In bears signs of influences from the Rodenberg GAS 808 Overdrive, so you know the Drive In has some TS-style overdrive influences… but it's not just another TS clone - there's more to the Drive In than that. Let's take a closer look and see what on the menu…





    What You Need To Know

    • The Neo Instruments Drive In Overdrive is a sturdy little pedal that measures only 2.4" W x 4.6" L x 1.2" H. It weighs 0.7 pounds. Made in Germany, it uses only high quality components and appears to be very rugged and well-made. It should withstand the rigors of the road as well as any pedal out there.


    • The paint job is a deep and dark fire-engine red, which is coupled with high-contrast white graphics. It's very easy to read the pedal's labels. The knobs are black, with white pointers.


    • Speaking of knobs, there are four of them on the Neo Drive In Overdrive.




    • Starting from the top-left and working our way clockwise, the Level control sets the overall output level of the effect when the pedal is active. There's enough range here to give you a fairly sizable boost above unity gain if you want it.


    • The Drive knob sets the overall amount of distortion and grit for the Drive In Overdrive. You can easily get light overdrive that is very responsive to how hard you play at lower settings of the Drive knob. Dig in harder and you get more dirt; ease up on your attack and things clean up nicely. Higher amounts give fairly moderate levels of added sustain and dirt, but the Drive In doesn't go into heavy distortion territory, even when the Drive control is dimed.


    • The Neo Instruments Drive In Overdrive also responds well to adjustments of your guitar's volume knob, allowing you to set the pedal for more grit, but letting you clean things up as needed just by rolling the guitar's volume back a bit.


    • The Drive In's Tone knob is your typical treble roll-off type control; turning it down gives progressively less brightness to the overall sound, and smooths out the distortion a bit.


    • The Color control is where the Drive In varies from the typical TS-style pedal; it adjusts the midrange and low frequencies and changes the character of the overdrive, making the Drive In sound darker and warmer at lower settings, and brighter and raspier when turned up higher. There's also a bit less overall gain available at lower settings of the Color control.


    • The Drive In Overdrive's input and output jacks are side-mounted. The input impedance is 500 kOhm, and the output impedance is 10 kOhm.


    • Power can be provided with either a 9V battery, or with a user-supplied 9V DC power supply. Unplugging from the input jack disconnects the battery to help increase its useful lifetime.


    • The power jack is located at the top of the pedal, and it uses the industry-standard 5.5mm x 2.1mm plug size, and is wired center-negative. Current draw is a reasonable 10mA.




    • The battery compartment is accessed by removing four screws and the pedal's bottom plate.


    • There are no internal switches or trim pots, so if you use an external power supply instead of batteries, there's really no need to ever open the pedal's case.




    • A red LED is located in between and near the bottom of the Color and Tone knobs; immediately above the pedal's Drive In logo - in fact, the LED is placed right above the letter "I" in the word "Drive" - making it appear almost like a dotted I. The LED illuminates whenever the pedal is active.


    • Switching on the Neo Instruments Drive In Overdrive is true bypass, and the internal circuitry is completely out of the signal chain when the pedal is turned off.


    • Four stick-on rubber feet are included with the Drive In Overdrive, but they come unattached, giving users the option of not installing them and using Velcro (or bike chain links) for pedalboard mounting instead, if they prefer.




    • The Drive In is best suited to low to moderate levels of grit and gain - it's not a uber-high gain pedal; if that's what you're seeking, you should probably look elsewhere.


    • Depending on your tastes, turning down the Color knob may require turning up the Drive knob a bit to compensate - there's less overdrive available with lower settings on the Color knob.




    The Neo Instruments Drive In is one of those fairly rare pedals that goes beyond being a mere rehashing of what previous companies have done with their overdrive pedals; while you can certainly get sounds that are reminiscent of some other TS-style overdrive pedals, the Neo Instruments Drive In Overdrive gives you tonal options and a level of versatility that is matched by few other me-too TS overdrive clones. The Color control is the main key here - providing a level of control over the lows and midrange that the basic treble rolloff "Tone" controls that constitute the entire extent of the tone shaping options on many other overdrive pedals simply can't match.

    While the Drive In isn't really suited for extra high levels of distortion, and isn't going to be the first choice for doom or metal guitarists, its rich sound and flexibility make it a great choice for Rock and Blues, and Roots, Americana and Country players will no doubt find plenty of tones inside this pedal that will work with their music too. Ruggedly constructed and quick and easy to dial up great sounds with, it's going to further cement Neo Instruments' reputation for making first-class pedals.   -HC-



    Want to discuss the Neo Instruments Drive In Overdrive or have questions or comments about this review? Then head over to this thread in the Effects forum right here on Harmony Central and join the discussion!




    Neo Instruments Drive In Overdrive ($279.00 MSRP, $199.00 "street")

    Neo Instruments website    

    Neo Instruments pedals are distributed in the USA and Canada by Gand Music and Distribution    



    You can purchase the Neo Instruments Drive In Overdrive from:



    Electric Mojo Guitars (Canada)   















    Phil O'Keefe is a multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer / producer and the Senior Editor of Harmony Central. He has engineered, produced and performed on countless recording sessions in a diverse range of styles, with artists such as Alien Ant Farm, Jules Day, Voodoo Glow Skulls, John McGill, Michael Knott and Alexa's Wish. He is a former featured monthly columnist for EQ magazine, and his articles and product reviews have also appeared in Keyboard, Electronic Musician and Guitar Player magazines.  

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