The Engine reviews

There’s nothing more satisfying than reading about other people’s experiences with something you’ve put so much of your energy and love into it.
Good or bad, we love them all, so if you’re tried The Engine, please give us your honest feedback. Thank you!

 

IAN OAKSHOTT
Portsmouth,UK, Guitar player

I bought The Engine from WD Music as soon as they had them in stock. It sounds better than I thought. I keep thinking about the Premier guitar review and the words they used, big burly distortion. It is. It makes my clean Blackface style amp sound like a raging Marshall stack!  It has a very rich, harmonic laden sound. It’s a really dynamic pedal too with excellent clean up, very touch sensitive too.  Thank you all so much!  Also you were right, hitting it with my Unit67 gives an amazing sustaining bloom to the notes, slipping into feedback easily. Even at living room levels. It’s going to be a few weeks before I can get it out to rehearse due to covid. But I can’t wait. Thanks again and stay safe!
 
BRENDAN WHELAN
Sunnyvale, CA, USA, Guitar player

There are few overdrives that can boast the tone AND dynamics of a cranked NMV amp. Usually they are too buzzy or too compressed, and fail to recreate the “amp-y” character of an actual… amp. My measure is that it should have enough midrange harmonics for some sustain and a thicker tone, but also be able to knock you unconscious if you dig into the strings with the pick. That punch is the key to old-school amps and cutting through the mix. Perhaps most important, the tone should be clear and transparent enough to allow the tone of the guitar, pickups and player to shine through. Subtle changes in playing should be front-and-center. Finally, you should hear the amp’s artifacts in the bass and midrange. This isn’t a hi-fi after all!

The Engine is far more than an overdrive or distortion box, and more even than the popular amp-in-a-box products that are becoming ever more popular. The amplifier section is designed to deliver the NMV tone without messing around. Instead of amp-like tone and presence controls, it has a couple of simple controls that allow the player to tune the built-in tone and response to the amplifier used with The Engine. This is great, as it makes setup fast and easy so you can get to the playing part. There is some ability to alter the tone, but it’s always in a sweet-spot, no matter how you set it. When clicking The Engine on, it immediately imparts the NMV goodness that it was designed for. A quick sweep of the shape (overall character) and tone (high-cut) knobs and you’re ready to go. Next is GAIN. I had expected this control to want to be in the noon-to-one position that most products seem to be designed for. I started there, and the tone IS fantastic. But I must admit that it was too much gain. I was looking for pure organic dynamics. Just a touch of anger from the circuit. So I swept the gain control from 0 to max. Playing at various points along the dial, the real magic is in the lower settings, where you just get some sparkle with picking and light strumming, and a bit of breakup when you dig in. Sure enough, this is exactly what you find around 10 o’clock on the gain control. If they had set up the pedal there and had no gain knob, it would be worth the price of admission. This is the real-deal, a pedal that sounds and feels like a classic amp. Crisp but not harsh, clear, but with some juicy goodness. Dialing the simple tone controls can even get you the buzzy/boomy lows that are a characteristic of loud lower-gain amps and a mainstay of many styles of music

Turning up the gain gives ever-more breakup, but retains the clarity. No need for an additional boost if you have a particular tone in mind. All the way up, The Engine gets well into JCM800 gain territory, but with the same NMV clarity, though a bit more compression. This would be like boosting a cranked NMV amp, all without touching the rangemaster boost switch.

Oh, did I mention the rangemaster? I was introduced to this function via the Unit 67, my first DryBell purchase. If you don’t own that pedal, I can’t recommend it strongly enough. In any case, the rangemaster was added to The Engine as well. I had actually never understood the concept of a treble boost, but now I rely on it. Typical boosts focus the midrange to tighten the tone of high gain amps, but sacrifice some highs as well. The treble boost brightens and tightens the amp, or in this case the Engine’s drive section, giving any combination of additional harmonics plus more cut-through, plus more volume. It’s perfect for whatever subtle or not-so-subtle change you want to make to your rhythm or lead tone. Controls include bass and treble, as well as a range control that sets the low-cut frequency. Finally there is a volume control that is the reason for the season. This gives a lot of tuning range for getting just the right effect to work with your playing. The range and volume knobs are large enough that you can adjust on stage and get even more flexibility.

How do the gain and boost sections work together? With low gains, the treble boost can move your tone from light breakup and sustain to a bit more lively, singing tone, or add some extra harmonics for a bit more “I really meant it!” breakup. With a little more gain on the drive, the treble boost gives you a heavier alternative rhythm tone without the need for YET ANOTHER pedal, or more cut and sustain for leads. At full-bore gain, the boost works its magic by returning some clarity, and also allows for some truly high-gain madness. In all, this pedal has more gain that I would expect, and likely more than I would use. But it’s not overdone. It’s got a great balance of tunable gain from almost none to plenty, which will make a lot of different players happy. There is also the ability to run the range boost AFTER the drive section, much as another notable product allows. This is a great option for strong lead-boosts, and can be switched from the front panel to allow for swapping the order on-the-fly.

With the great tone of The Engine, along with the ability to easily and quickly tune it to any amplifier, I am confident that my pedalboard would sound great with any backline amplifier, which will significantly improve my performances.

Finally, quality is high with the DryBell products. Everything from packaging to the case and components to the tone are first-class. I have also been very happy with DryBell’s customer service. They are very responsive. I’m quite happy with The Engine, and especially thrilled that I can get this tone without the storage headache, back problems and hearing loss that an amp without a master volume would entail. My pedal board starts with a Unit 67 and The Engine, and the rest is icing.
 
 
ALFRED HOLLWEG
Heinersreuth, Germany, Guitar player

The Engine is the best “Marshall Plexi” type of pedal that I‘ve ever played! The boost function is also great. You have created a very good pedal. Very dynamic. It clears off when you roll down the volume pot of your guitar and it is amazing when you have the full power of the Plexi. It’s a wall of sound.
 
 
RICHARD WONG
Melbourne , Australia, Guitar player

I have been a blues/rock guitarist for 40 years and have played through more overdrive pedals than you’ve had hot dinners! It takes something truly exceptional to get me excited about yet another OD…and the talented creative geniuses at DryBell have done just that!
I first became aware of The Engine via some excellent YouTube videos from Andy Martin and Pete Thorn, both of whom I’d had the pleasure of meeting at GuitCon 2018, a YouTuber convention in Bavaria, Germany. These guys know great tone…and watching their videos, they clearly enjoyed the rich, touch-responsive and downright savage Marshall-esque tones of The Engine. I placed my order straight away…and only 10 days later the pedal arrived safely all the way from Croatia to Melbourne, Australia!
My rig includes a Gibson Custom Shop R8, PRS 594, Framus Phil X XG, Fender CS ’51 Nocaster. The effects chain includes a Fulltone Clyde wah, UME effects OverUnity dual stage overdrive, DryBell ‘The Engine”, Strymon El Capistan. Amps include a Milkman Creamer (fitted with 6L6 power tubes), Two Rock Crystal 22 watt combo (6V6 tubes), Dr Z EZG-50 combo (6L6 tubes).
The Engine is loaded with authentic touch-sensitive vintage Marshall tones with plenty of tonal sculpting options via the “tone” and “shape” controls on Side “A”. There’s ample midrange content to cut through a loud band mix. The overdrive cleans up beautifully with just a twist of the guitar’s volume knob. It’s the ultimate “set ‘n forget” OD…dirt simple but devastatingly effective!
Side ”B” is the secret weapon…it features a super-powerful treble booster modelled on the legendary “Rangemaster”, used by such guitar luminaries like Eric Clapton, Rory Gallagher and Brian May. Used on its own, or run into the “A” side, this powerful boost yields a thrusting compelling lead tone that drives my guitars into effortless sustain and musical feedback. The active “high” and “low” eq controls on Side “B” allow fine-tuning of the treble booster effect.
We’ve been in lockdown for the past 3 months…but that hasn’t stopped me making some serious noise with my guitars & amps. I cannot wait to use my DryBell The Engine as the foundation of my live guitar tone once it’s safe to return to gigging. My guitars have never sounded better! Thanks so much to all of the wonderful folks at DryBell for creating a truly unique, professional quality dual OD/treble booster!

 
 
Dr.DAVOR DOMITROVIC
Mönichwald, Austria, Guitar player

The Engine is an excellent pedal! A side, a British type tone, cuts through the mix really well without the need to play on maximum volume. The B side is a booster which adds transparency to the whole sound. Well done and compliments to the whole team!
 
 
GREG MILIOTO
Pagosa Springs, CO, USA, Guitar player

I have had my DryBell “The Engine” for about 3 weeks now and just love the pedal. I keep the RangeMaster side on all night when I play out and the Plexi side for lead work and Marshall flavored riffs. It’s basically a two for one. Two great pedals in one small platform. I play classic rock, blues and country. I used to small Friedman amps in stereo. Over all it’s killer pedal in a killer combination. One a sidenote, this is the quietest range master style pedal ever and does it well.
 
DEREK METZ
Fort Collins, CO, USA, Guitar player

I am married to Fender Blackface amps and, despite courting other brands over the years, I always come back to my Super Reverb. I’ve sampled and played many overdrive and boost pedals in my pursuit for those legendary Marshall Plexi overdrive tones but it has proven elusive. Lots of great products, but something was always missing to my ears. I picked up a Vibe Machine and was immediately blown away so I knew The Engine was going to be something special. DryBell did not disappoint – The Engine is spectacular. I am new to treble boosters but my eyes..err….ears are now wide open. This side of the Engine is a very flexible boost and, with the Range control cranked, pushes my Super Reverb beautifully. The overdrive channel is great too, covering a wide drive range and the tone / shape controls allows me to keep that spectacular overdrive tone when switching between single coils and humbuckers. The real magic is stacking the two channels. Pure bliss.
 

MIKKO KARJALAINEN
Jyväskylä, Finland, Guitar player

Well, The Engine makes a good amplifier sound even better, and a bad amplifier sound useful, or even good. With Fender Tweed Deluxe cranked to it’s sweet spot, the Rangemaster side of The Engine works great as a booster; color adjustments allow me to fine-tune the solo/boosted sound just right. At low volumes, when the sound is clean, the pre-amp side of the Engine handles the desired kind of hair very well. They say it’s designed according to a British single-channel amplifier, but I still get my American Tweed Deluxe sound just like Tweed Deluxe, now also at bedroom volumes, without the attenuator. There are very useful tone controls at both sides of The Engine. It really can be a ”foundation” of a pedal board.
 
 
PASCAL D.
Canada, Guitar player

The Engine is quite impressive. While other Marshall in a box pedals sound great, they still sound like pedals, and don’t recreate the dirty-mids presency tone of the Plexis to my ears. The Engine really makes the amplifier sound and feel like a Marshall, really dynamic.
And the gain range is wider than expected. It goes from a gentle JTM45 to a modded JCM800, especially with the boost side engaged. I use it with my Mesa Boogie Lonestar clean channel (kind of Blackface-like) whenever I need a British sound. The controls are so powerful that you need to tweak it a lot before getting the sound in your head, but every other sound found along the way will be good and usable! I’m so impressed that the week after receiving it I order the Unit67 with great expectations, I’m already a DryBell’s fan.

 
 
HERB GENELLY
Stevenson Ranch, CA, USA, Guitar player

The Engine” is a spectacular marriage of tones that is THE perfect compliment to my Tone King Imperial MK II and all my Blackface Fender amps. I love how the RM side integrates so well with my amps (it’s an “always on” side for me)…..and then hitting the Plexi side (I use mine just like Greg Milioto does) for my lead work. But with such versatility, I can use my Tone King’s Lead Channel with the Engines RM side off….then hit the RM side and get an explosion of tone that I hadn’t been able to get without using a “stand alone” Rangemaster type pedal with far less tweakability. With The Engine, I now have the perfect 4 channel club amp!

Look…..I loved what you have been doing ever since I bought your V1 version of the Vibe Machine which seems so long ago (and yes…I have a v2 Vibe Machine now). Then I thought your Unit 67 was just such a beautiful foray into the Compressor/Eq world. But with The Engine, I now have 3 incredibly built, gorgeous sounding pedals that have kicked everything else I was using to the curb (save for my Tape Delay). Thank you for making such an authentic sounding, multi-functioning pedal that a working musician that plays rock, country and blues can afford, appreciate and enjoy so much!
 
 
ERIC RAPHAEL
Canonsburg, PA, US, Guitar player

I received my The Engine pedal yesterday and it is wonderful. I love the wide variety of tones that are available. The shape and range knobs are especially useful. And combing the boost with the overdrive is just amazing.. I also love the boost by itself. I’ve tried many boost pedals before, but the boost side of this pedal provides so many tonal options and really helps create a tone that cuts through. I can see where this is likely to become one of my favorite pedals Thank you and everyone at DryBell!!!!