Previously on Gear Review, we brought you the much-fabled Greer Lightspeed Overdrive, renowned for its clarity and sweet mild gain. Well what could sound better than that right..? Right you are! Presenting to you the Greer Southland Harmonic Overdrive!
The first question that probably pops to mind is: "Well, what type of overdrive is it?", TS-Style, Klon, Bluesbreaker, Plexi, etc. Let me just say that... a new category should be created for the Southland Overdrive. Yep, because it sounds that unique!
The Southland Overdrive is modeled after the Lightspeed, thereby taking on all the characteristics and qualities of its predecessor--but more! Imagine the Lightspeed, ramped up with .... MORE! That would be an apt description for the Southland: More of whatever the goodness that came from the Lightspeed!
The Southland comes in a base colour of either White or Red, with fonts being the opposite colour. I personally prefer the white because well... White Ranger is always better than Red Ranger (hahaha). As like many other pedals, it is driven by a 9v power supply.
When I first plugged in the Southland, I was greeted by a really neutral sound, much like the Lightspeed (maybe I should stop mentioning it so much) --basically delivering again more of your guitar and amp. There was not much cutting off of low end, or any other frequencies. Gain-wise, it was definitely not in the mild or low gain territory, more mid-gainy and with a really wide sweep too. The Drive (essentially gain) generally produces a mid-scoop, rather than a mid gain. The Range (or tone) knob possessed a wide sweep as well, mainly controlling the treble range. I'd say that the Range knob acts as the fulcrum of how you would dial in the pedal for your sounds, as it seemingly is able to accentuate the gain, respectively to how you set the Southland up.
Going in depth
As always, I start off with the Drive knob at 3 o'clock, with volume over at 12, Range over at 12, and I was greeted with a low growl, good for some rhythm playing, or if you are usually on your own, abit of guitar licking here and there. I cranked the Volume up and dug in my pick a little more, and soaked in the great response to my picking dynamics. Fiddling with the Drive knob, I turned it up to 12 for a dirtier sound, whilst still maintaining its neutrality.
At this point of time, I did take note that the drive was pretty much its own sound--you can literally create a new category for the overdrive sound, because that's how unique it is. As I continued to dial up the Drive, I realised that the mid-range frequencies were seemingly enhanced, but not like a TS-style, rather, it was giving me more of whatever that I already had from the guitar and amp. Even with the Drive cranked to 4, playing notes on their own did not result in a blending or mash, but each note managed to hold its own and be accentuated by that Southland's characteristic drive sound. The Southland does not mess up the different range of frequencies, but rather brings them out with such clarity through the drive so that you enjoy its harmonic goodness.
Turning my attention to the Range knob, here's where it starts to get interesting. The Range knob, as I've mentioned, is the fulcrum for the sounds that you will seek to get out from the Southland. Without adjust the Volume or Drive, I was able to get contrasting sounds (and no, not just like any other tone knob), from the gain of the Southland. Instead of merely darkening or sharpening the tones, I'd say the Range also affects how much bite there is to the gain. So essentially, the Range somehow affects the Drive, much more than you'd expected as compared to other overdrive pedals--you'll have to try it for yourself to understand!
I also stacked it with the Lightspeed, and the Greer Special Request (really great combos), and it was really easy to get good sounds out of them! The Southland is pretty stackable I say, and it does a great job of bringing more of your guitar, tinged with more drive. Additionally, the flexibility of the Range knob also allows it to work well with humbuckers or single-coils, ensuring that the dialling-in process is fuss free and an absolute pleasure.
The Southland does an impeccable job of giving you more of your electric guitar and amp with drive, and is a step up in gain from the Lightspeed. Humbuckers and single-coils alike will dance and sing to this pedal, while other pedals will gladly stack the Southland on themselves. Another win for Greer Amps!