Guitar, Reviews — July 26, 2011 1:56 am

Thunderdrive Overdrive Pedal Build and Review

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In the past few years I’ve seen more and more build your own pedal kits hit the market. Intrigued, I still had a fear of commitment. What happens if I drop $60 on complicated delay pedal and screw it up? I’m out $60 AND a pedal. Or worse off I have a pedal that works…some of the time.

The Thunderdrive by was an excellent choice to get my feet wet and not plunk down a ton of money on my first kit. For under $30 I had everything I needed to build this pedal minus tools and a 9 volt battery. Shipping was speedy and I opened the box to see everything was there; an enclosure, knobs, pots, a switch, jacks, electrical components and a very helpful booklet with instructions, pictures and a quick soldering tips guide.

Tools Needed

Soldering Iron (Mine is a 40 watt iron from Sears. I suggest starting with a clean, fine tip)
Wire Strippers (the pedal came with a generous amount of 22 gauge wire)
Standard Phillips head scredriver
Pliers to tighten jacks and pots.

The Build

First step was to mount all the interior hardware. Pretty straightforward. I sort of cheated by reading ahead and removed my terminal strip and pre-soldered the components so I wouldn’t have to work in the tight compartment.

Then I stayed 100% on the directions so as to not screw anything up. My only misfire was a leg of a resistor was touching a terminal that it shouldn’t have. I suggest taking your time and highlighting the steps in the build you’ve already completed. I finished the pedal in about two half hour segments.

Here she is! OK I’m by no means a pro, you’ll notice a nice burn mark on the red lead of the battery plug. They include a thin strip of tolex to sit between the footswitch and the battery. This is essential or you could short out the pedal.

The kit included the sticker and the black knobs. You can easily give the box some flare of your own like some paint, custom Sharpie labeling or placing the sticker just a hair off center, OK I just wanted to get the pedal working! As with all pedals, unplug them when they are not in use, otherwise you will drain the battery.

Let’s Hear It!

Nothing fancy, just a few clips with a Gibson SG into an Orange combo amp mic’d with an SM57 into my computer.

Clean – To give you an idea of the unaffected guitar sound.

12 O’clock – Both Volume and Distortion at noon.

Volume Boosted – Where I think the pedal shines sort of mocks a Tubescreamer.

Distortion Boosted – If you need things to get fuzzier than a drunk’s memory of last weekend it’ll do it!


If you’re DIY savvy then this kit is a great way to test your skills. Some basic soldering skills will give you a jump start, but everything else is pretty well explained in the booklet.

Street Price: $29.95


  • I would give this a go but my soldering skills are pretty weak.

  • Enjoyed the review.
    I built one last Friday night, got it working a.m. Saturday (cold solder joint); love this pedal! I run mine in front of a Craigar SuperTweed (circuit based on an Orange AD15) and it sounds terrific. I even swapped out the silicone diodes and tried 1N34A germaniums, but to my hear, the stock … 4148s sound better (lost nearly all the volume and gained too much treble with the germ diodes). This Thunderdrive reminds of me of a treble booster, OD, clean boost, and fuzz all in one. And, the 9v battery is holding up great. Our pastor used the pedal last weekend for two services (4 plus hours plugged in on his board) plus I have logged a couple hours in the garage. I checked the battery earlier this evening and I’m still showing a reading of more than 9v.
    Great pedal!!!

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