Flux Drive Review

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Flux Drive Review

Post by darkbluemurder » Mon Mar 05, 2018 8:21 am

I will review the pedal in the context of the manufacturer's description and the way I tested it (standalone before clean amp, push a driven amp and clean boost after overdrive).

This is how Mesa Engineering describes the pedal:
The FLUX-DRIVE™ is the overdrive pedal for those who want more of all the best things from an overdrive! It has more liquid gain and enhanced sustain that easily feeds into rich harmonic overtones making it incredibly addictive and inspiring to play, whether into a clean amp channel or especially to enhance a crunch or higher gain channel! It also offers a more complete tone-shaping network with individual Treble and Bass controls. This architecture makes the FLUX-DRIVE a more complete preamp with added versatility beyond that of most overdrive pedals.

Standalone before Clean Amp

I used it before a Fender style amp set to a clean tone. With the gain set to zero the Flux-Drive can be used as a clean boost. Set to 9.00 it starts to crunch. Set midway the crunch gets stronger. Up from that the crunch gets progressively stronger until 2.00, from there onwards not much perceivable gain is added. By that time the pedal gets really loud, so with anything past 2.00 on the gain, the level control needs to be backed down to 9.00 for unity volume. There is quite a bit overall gain available but not as much as say a Barber Direct Drive (any variant of them) or the MI Audio Blue Boy Deluxe.

The Treble and Bass controls have a wide range. However, I find the useable range of both is between 10.00 and 3.00 - on the Treble anything beyond 3.00 gets harsh quickly and below 10.00 very dark, and on the Bass anything beyond 3.00 gets woofy and below 10.00 too thin for me. Still enough useable range for me. Added versatility beyond that of most overdrive pedals? That is a quite lofty claim, and I dare to say that there are quite a few pedals out there that can match the Flux-Drive's versatility.

How does it sound? That is not easy to describe so I start with what it does not sound like. It does not sound like a Tube Screamer - it has more overdrive and less of that characteristic mid hump. It does not sound like a Marshall-in-a-Box pedal - nothing like e.g. the Barber Direct Drive or the C-Mat Mods Brownie. It also does not sound like a Dumble-style pedal to me. I also don't really hear Mark I or the later Mark series in it - for these tones it is a bit too dark overall and does not offer the gain levels the Mark series offers. It does sound good, though. Before a clean amp I see its strengths in rhythm tones, various shades of good crunch can be had. As a lead pedal it is also good but it does not feel to me as easy to play as e.g. the Barber Direct Drive or the Rockett Blue Note. It's like I have to fight more with that pedal than with the others.

Push a Driven Amp

Tested the pedal before a self-modded Marshall set to a slightly crunchy tone. With the gain set all the way down, tone controls at noon and the level all the way up there is a moderate clean boost. Turning up the gain control reveals a spot where the gain quickly comes in. Depending on how much crunch you got on the amp you can fine tune the additional crunch from the pedal. For my amp setting I found the sweet spot at 9.00. Turning up the treble provides more cut, turning up the bass provides more oomph - so far all as expected.

I liked this pedal more when used this way than before a clean amp. It can turn a crunchy amp into a hard rockin' riffing monster. Also in this application I like it more for rhythm than for lead tones. It is hard to put my finger on but I miss some midrange elements for a singing lead tone in this pedal. Nevertheless I think it's worth owning for the rhythm tones it gets.

Clean Boost after Overdrive Pedal

In that application I set the gain all the way off, tone controls at 12.00 each and volume to taste. First surprise: to get a nearly flat (i.e. “uncolored”) response I had to turn the treble control to about 1.00 and the bass control to about 2.00. However, it's not quite neutral or transparent in the sense that it takes the existing tone and just makes it louder. It definitely does color the tone. In this application I found it either added some harshness to the tone, or took a bit of clarity away (depending on the treble setting) and affected the feel in a negative way (made the guitar seem to play harder). So while it can be used as a clean boost after an overdrive I don't see its strength there.

Cheers Stephan

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Re: Flux Drive Review

Post by stephen sawall » Mon Mar 05, 2018 9:38 am

Always wanted to try this pedal with my rig. I've tried it in the stores. Nice review...
The fact that Stephen appears from nowhere, is sentenced to death in an emotional public trial without anyone interfering at all and is then altogether forgotten as if nothing happened, is already suspicious.

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Re: Flux Drive Review

Post by plan-x » Tue Apr 27, 2021 1:01 am

Wow, detailed review. I had a flux drive and now have a Flux five. I just wanted to say that his assessment was spot on. Through a breaking up amp it rocks! Through a clean amp it's decent. As a clean boost, well it wasn't designed for that.
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Re: Flux Drive Review

Post by screamingdaisy » Sat Jul 17, 2021 10:08 pm

I had a Flux Drive for awhile. I had it paired with a Tone Burst. For me, it was a Goldilocks scenario… Flux was always too much dirt, Tone-Burst was never enough dirt. Sold both and got a Grid Slammer, which was just right.
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