Seems these days exclusive runs of gear at retailers is becoming more and more prevalent. Pair that trend with boutique pedal trends, and the concepts were sure to collide at a Guitar Center near you sooner or later. Denmark based T-Rex partnered with Guitar Center in late 2011 to release an exclusive line of dual foot-switch pedals including the Yellow Drive which combines a crunchy overdrive and old school distortion in a single box.
Each of the Yellow Drive's channels feature dedicated gain, volume, and EQ and while a more affordable unit by T-Rex standards, I can't say that the build feels like any corners have been cut. The pedal feels solid and looks great. The only possible concern I'd have is the EQ trim pots which may not stand up to the tests of time like a more robust metal shaft pot, but it seems T-Rex uses this design even on their higher priced pedals. Space saving, top mounted input/output/power jacks round out the feature set.
For this review I tested the Yellow Drive into a VHT Special 6, a Tech 21 Blonde/Electro Harmonix Magnum 44, and a Tech 21 Trademark 60 using a variety of guitars including a PRS Singlecut SE, Epiphone ES-339, and SX SST57 "Strat". While I know transparent is the trendy catch phrase of modern overdrives, its completely appropriate for the Yellow Drive's channel A. With gain settings around 12 o'clock and below, the core tone of your rig is completely intact yielding a very open sounding, subtle drive which absolutely excels at conjuring Hendrix-esque strat neck pickup mojo. But channel A has much more to offer than subtle shades of dirt with a wide range of usable gain from essentially clean up to a nice chunky drive perfect for Black Crowes style southern grind. T-Rex has voiced the tone control to be very complementary, even when cranking up the tone knob to around 3 o'clock the pedal remains fairly balanced sounding with all but the brightest amp/guitar combinations. Channel B picks up right where channel A leaves off, it fact there's a bit of an overlap between the highest gain settings of channel A and gain settings below noon on channel B. However, the EQ is tuned for a bit more bite, the response is juicier, and it offers substantially more gain when cranked up. With a neck humbucker and the gain around 1 o'clock, you get Sanata-esque warmth and sustain with a nice round bottom end. Swapping to a neck single coil and a quick tone adjustment and Eric Johnson tones are within reach. Fed to a amp just barely breaking up the Yellow Drive's sounds even better and into a dirty amp, its easy to get that pushed-to-the-limit-exploding-amp sound. While I find the tonal range of the pedal extremely impressive, the low end of channel B likely isn't going to be tight enough for modern metal players.
For player's seeking a "boutique" pedal on a budget, the Yellow Drive is a fantastic option. I'm very impressed with the wide range of good tones the Yellow Drive offers and it seemed less finicky than most pedals given the vastly different target systems it was auditioned with. Its dual foot switchable personality and top mounted jacks is perfect for those with an already cramped pedalboard where maximum punch in minimal space is king. On top of all that, the pedal is reasonably affordable especially when compared against other boutique pedal builders or even the standard pedals in T-Rex's line.
Pros: Dual overdrive/distortion with wide range of solid tones