Rufty-tufty casings plus state-of-the-art electronics make Digitechs new Hardwire pedals strong contenders for the gigging guitarists hard-earned pound. Martyn Casserly dives in
The CM-2 offers a Level, High, Low, and Gain control plus a mini toggle switch that selects between Classic and Modified mode. In the Classic setting the pedal chucks out some gorgeous tones that bring the old Tube Screamer to mind. It has plenty of grit and spank on a low gain setting – especially if you dial out a little of the lows and knock up the highs. With a Strat and aggressive use of the fingers you can get great bar room rock-blues that just begs to use a slide. Upping the gain brings in a more classic rock tone that never feels over-saturated, allowing arpeggios to ring out distinctly. There’s a cool organic sound to the overdrive too, with the kind of sparkly edges that you usually have to pay a lot more for.
The Modified circuit fattens up the gain and low end. It doesn’t turn the CM-2 into a metal distortion, but it does add some nice sauce to an already tasty meal. We loved the neck pickup of the Strat with the pedal’s controls set to 12 o’clock and the gain at three o’clock: this gave a raspy, edgy tone that felt a bit like a fuzz pedal. Hendrix ahoy!
With this standard of construction and this quality of the sound, Digitech's Hardwire pedals should cost lots of money - but they don't. Sure, you can buy a plastic 15 overdrive if you want to, but it's only a matter of time before it goes down. With these you should feel confident enough to fix them straight onto your pedalboard without hesitation. The CM-2 is a classic blues overdrive that will keep SRV, Hendrix, and ZZ Top fans happy, but thanks to the well-calibrated controls it's also capable of offering modern tones.