Just when you thought it was safe to consider your pedalboard finished, along come DOD with a new overdrive, and not just any overdrive — the Looking Glass was designed in collaboration with Christopher Venter of boutique pedal company Shoe Pedals. It’s intended to be both a low-gain boost and higher-gain overdrive, and there’s pre- and post-drive tone shaping available, to tailor the sound to suit any type of pickup. Based on a Class-A FET circuit, which produces the asymmetrical clipping that’s typical of Class-A tube preamps, the pedal is claimed to be suitable for anything from subtle and sweet blues up to punk.
Housed in a chrome-finished metal enclosure and powered either by a 9V battery or centre-negative Boss-style PSU, the Looking Glass features a true-bypass footswitch with LED indicator, four knobs (one of which is a dual-concentric control) and one switch. As you’d expect, Level sets the output level while Gain, in conjunction with the high/low-gain toggle switch, governs the amount of drive. The dual-concentric pot controls Bass Cut and Treble; the bass cut comes pre-overdrive and the Treble post-overdrive. Input Filter is a variable pre-drive tone shaper, which tames over-bright pickups when turned to the left of centre, and also adds some mid boost as well as trimming the highs. Right of centre it produces a brighter, more attacking sound.
Note that the Input Filter control is passive. That’s intentional: this way, it interacts with the guitar pickups when the Looking Glass is the first pedal in the chain. That said, if a buffered pedal is used prior to the Looking Glass, an internal dual DIP switch can be set to slightly increase the input impedance of the pedal and also to tame any excessive brightness that may result.
Even on the high-gain setting, fed from a P90-equipped guitar the drive gets little further than a Billy Gibbons raunch at maximum gain, while the lower gain setting goes from an almost clean boost to a comfortable touch-responsive warmth. In this respect, the low-gain setting behaves much like the lower-gain settings on my Fulltone OCD pedal. The impressive thing is that using the three tonal controls, it’s possible to dial in pretty much any sensible overdrive sound you may need, regardless of your guitar’s type of pickup. So for blues or classic rock, the Looking Glass can work extremely well, as long as you spend a short time experimenting to see which EQ combinations work best. It also responds very favourably to picking dynamics or to using your guitar volume control to regulate the amount of drive. If you set your amp up on the edge of starting to overdrive, then the Looking Glass works nicely to give you a combination of amp drive and its own voice. Using more gritty EQ settings take you into aggressive territory, confirming that you can go from classic to punk all in one pedal.
Although it’s not the cheapest overdrive pedal around, the Looking Glass is more affordable than many boutique offerings. Yet, by way of design, a boutique pedal is exactly what this is. We all have different ideas of what constitutes the ultimate overdrive, and every overdrive and amp combination behaves somewhat differently but, even so, I think DOD and Shoe Pedals have produced something a little bit special here, and the ability to tailor the pre- and post-drive EQ sets it apart from most other models.