079 | Korg ToneWorks 105OD: A Closer Look at this Classic Overdrive Pedal | Transcript


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Scott Schwertly:
Hello and welcome to Episode 79 of the Sonic Renegades Podcast. We're exploring renegade pedals that have changed the music landscape.

Up for today's discussion, we have a fun one. This is the Korg ToneWorks 105OD classic overdrive. This is one of the first DSP pedals from the mid-'90s. It's an exciting one, and we'll share it with you on the other side.

Hey, everybody, Scott Schwertly and Eric Wilson of Siren Pedals with you today. Hope you're having a great one.

Eric, I don't know about you, but I'm excited to be talking about this pedal today. We're talking about the Korg ToneWorks, kind of a sleeper pedal from the '90s. What are your thoughts been about it these last couple days?

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. So I mean, the first time I saw this was actually on the JHS vlog and I'm like, "Well, that's weird." The only thing I've seen from like Korg ToneWorks is acoustic pedals and just random things like that, that I have no interest in using. So when I saw these, I was like really curious about it and, then, obviously, he played through a couple of them, and I was able to go look up some additional demos.

Now I've been able to play it myself and they are definitely different. They definitely have some of the typical quirks that early DSP pedals have, but, I mean, they sound good. I could find a use for it. It's not one of those where it's like, I want this if I can only have two pedals, but if it's laying around, I'll find something to do with it.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. Well, I'm glad you brought it to my attention because I remember you shooting me a text because I think you found it on Facebook Marketplace, and we ended up getting this one for a steal. So I think I ended up getting this pedal for 65 and looking on Reverb this morning, they typically run for about 100, maybe even 130. So, yeah, we got a steal on this one to cover it here on the podcast.

I actually never heard of this pedal until you actually brought it up. And then as we're prepping for this episode, I did discover that JHS Pedals episode that you're talking about. So, yeah, it's such a interesting history behind this thing. I had no idea that it was such a pioneer really in the '90 with this whole line.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. Well, and it's really interesting because I feel like whenever you look at, especially overdrive pedals from the '90s, they're so strange, and this one's pretty tame compared to most of them. I mean, you got some weird stuff, like you have a high and low input and then an amp in line out, so that's a little not normal. Then you have a program switch and effects switch, so you can set presets on it, I guess, I mean, from what I've gathered. So, yeah, it's a little bit strange in that regard.

Then the other thing that's strange is that if you don't power this with a 9-volt power supply, you power it with four AA batteries. That is super weird.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, obviously, given the history of it, really seeing the '90s are going to have, obviously, those quirks and oddities with it. Yeah.

So on that note, just a quick history for you, guys, we keep talking about Josh Scott and JHS Pedals. Again, he did a great video about the whole Korg ToneWorks series. He tend to call them, or he was calling them or is calling them the Spirit Animal Series. The one that we're talking about today is the classic overdrive, the 105OD. This has like a spider ant animal on it, and then the other ones have three other animals that they feature. But all this to say really kind of the main innovator during the '90s, specifically 1999 was the Line 6 DL4 that kind of opened up this whole world with DSP technology, digital signal processing stuff that you're going to see today, obviously, like Strymon pedals or Empress pedals, et cetera.

This was sort of the beginning stages of DSP technology and the significant thing about this series, or just Korg ToneWorks in general, is that it was an early pioneer in the DSP efforts. So with that, you get a lot of innovation, but with it being a pioneer, you're getting some of these things that we're talking about today. There are just some quirks and oddities that kind of give it its own unique personality.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. And one thing particularly about this pedal is that the low gain settings aren't terrible. I mean, all things considered for what it is, like being a '90s pedal being a little bit on the odd side, it kind of has that lower gain tube screamer thing going on. And then you do have that contour knob where you can control like the amount of mids that you have in the signal. So you can pull it away from that tube screamer tone, but it does a really good job at kind of hitting that tone.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. I mean, it's got plenty of options on hits. I know it's got a boost option as well where, again, continues to give you that ability to adjust everything to fit your likings.

So yeah, with that said, since we're talking about the gain settings, boost option, let's go and just give you guys a quick run-through of what you can actually expect as far as controls on this thing. Yeah, Eric, you want to go and tackle that one?

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. So you have four knobs... Well, actually, we'll start at the top of the pedal so we'll start with the input and output. So you have your input, which you have a choice of high and low input. You have your DC jack, and then you have your output, which you have control of an amp or a line output.

Now under that you have your four knobs, which are drive, tone, contour and level, again, that contour and control being the control of over your mids and things like that. Then above the two middle knobs, there is a boost that just kind of gives you more gain. Then your left foot switch is your bypass or your effect foot switch, and then the right foot switch is your program or your presets, or however you want to look at that. But overall not an overly complex pedal.

I do highly suggest you go watch Josh's video he did on these and look at the modulation one because that one looks like a disaster to try and run. But this one, as far as these pedals go, really easy to use.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. I mean, I found it to be pretty simple, and it's one of those pedals as you kind of described earlier. It's not a game-changer as far as like, "I love it, I need to have it on my board," but it's not one of those pedals where you're like, "Oh, I hate this. This is terrible. This is trash." So it's kind of just right there in the middle. It's like, "I like it, but I don't love it." So I mean...

Eric Wilson:
Yeah, well, and I mean, that's kind of the thing about things that opened the door to new ideas in the industry is like pioneers are never the best at something. The first guy to create an electric guitar wasn't the best guitar. So I view these pedals and especially '90s pedals with DSP and stuff no different than that.

Scott Schwertly:
Exactly. That's true. And that's where you have to give a hat tip to them for kind of paving that pathway for everybody else that followed and, obviously, this piece of technology has evolved quite extensively over the last several years. So, again, kudos to Korg for making this happen and being that trailblazer so very exciting stuff.

Awesome, guys. Well, we're going to go ahead and give you guys a sample of what this thing actually sounds like so we're going to get everything plugged in. Eric, which guitar are you going to go with for today's episode?

Eric Wilson:
I'm going to use the Tele.

Scott Schwertly:
Well, good deal. Well, we're going to get this plugged in, and we'll see you guys on the other side.

Eric Wilson:
All right. That's the Korg 105OD. Overall, just a, I mean, solid drive pedal, especially for what it is really, kind of was game-changing and, I mean, back when it came out and really came out before a lot of like the stuff that started the whole DSP move.

Scott Schwertly:
Exactly. I mean, definitely a fun and interesting history behind it again, just being the pioneer just in this whole world of guitar pedals. If you guys like the way this thing sounds, yes, definitely go check out the rest of the ToneWork series from Korg. Again, there's four of them altogether. Again, the one that we covered today is the classic overdrive version. So, yeah. I'm glad to kind of add this one to the collection. I feel like kind of owning a little tiny piece of guitar pedal history with this one.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah, definitely. I mean, most people don't think of the '90s when they think of like major technological advancements, or maybe they do, who knows? But as far as guitar pedals go, it definitely wasn't time for that.

Scott Schwertly:
For sure. Well, good deal, guys. So that's what we wanted to cover today. That is the Korg 105 OD classic overdrive pedal, part of the ToneWork series by Korg in the mid-'90s.

Join us next time. We're going to take a look at another Walrus pedal, specifically the Lillian phaser pedal. I got my hands on this one about a week or two ago and, yeah, it's so much fun. So typically when you think about phasers, you think about the Electro-Harmonix Small Stone or the MXR Phase 90. Those are great for capturing vintage sounds, and so is the Lillian, so we're excited to be covering this one in the next episode.

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