GEAR REVIEW: Maxon RTO700 Tube Overdrive (w/Video)

PROS: Great tube sound. Small package. Plenty of gain. Noise gate. True bypass switch.

CONS: Proprietary power supply required (included). Changing tubes may be difficult.

It’s pretty common for guitarists to use a solid state overdrive pedal, as the size of a tube driven unit can eat up a lot of space on a pedal board. Maxon’s RTO700 Real Tube Overdrive delivers real tube tone, in a small box.

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It’s not much bigger than your average overdrive pedal, and has the usual controls: gain, bass, treble, mid, and master. A noise gate is also included, via a small toggle switch and an adjustable control, allowing the right amount of sound through, while killing unwanted noise. The dual triode preamp tube doesn’t require any warm-up time between switching it on or off. When bypassed, the tube receives power but no signal.

It has MUCH more gain than your average overdrive pedal. The gain has a very wide range, from slight clipping to a full-on, old school metal punch, which kind of belies its moniker “overdrive.” There is plenty of note clarity and definition across the entire range of gain settings. Sound-wise, it fits in the classic Fender and Marshall territory, with plenty of bite, but no buzzy or harsh overtones. Rhythm playing has plenty of crunch and delivery; leads are liquid without being oversaturated. The EQ really interacts with the gain nicely, as there is a lot of room to work with. The noise gate doesn’t choke off the tone or overall sound, just the hiss and unwanted noise.

Tubes require higher voltages than standard solid state pedals, so the only way to power this unit is via the included power supply, and it doesn’t appear to be compatible with other aftermarket power supplies. It looks like the tube can be changed, but involves unscrewing the back plate.

Overall it’s a great pedal for dialing in overdrive or distortion, and the noise gate is an added plus. For that real tube sound without having to break the bank or sacrifice an acre of space on a pedal board, this is well worth it.


GAIN – Controls Gain level

MASTER – Controls output level allowing user to match effect and bypass levels

BASS – Controls low frequency range

MID – Controls middle frequency range

TREBLE – Controls high frequency range

NR – Controls amount of Noise Reduction when NR is switched on

NR On/Off – Turns Noise Reduction on/off

PRICE:  – $449

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