The SD-9 was my live pedal for at least five years, but the only thing I didn’t like about it was that the really high notes were a bit thin when using single coils. So I switched to an Xotic BB for awhile – it was fatter sounding on the high notes but missing the low bass frequencies of the SD-9.
Now Maxon is making the VOP-9, which for me is the holy grail of distortion pedals. It’s got the low bass just like the SD-9, but the mid frequencies are really perfect for single coils. The high notes are extremely fat, but it’s not woofy when I switch to the neck pickup and it still has the spank and attack of the SD-9. With a humbucker, the VOP-9 is a little woofy sounding, so if you have a humbucking pickup I’d go with the SD-9.
Mike Landau plays a lot with a humbucker in the bridge position and he’s been using an SD-9 for as long as I can remember. He’s got great tone in his hands and great ears – that’s a big part of it, but I’d imagine that anyone who heard one of Mike’s records and knew he was using an SD-9 would immediately run out and buy one.
I hear a lot of pedals and when you get up to the level of Xotic and Maxon, it’s all good depending on taste, but for my style of playing I like the VOP-9 and SD-9 the most. Also, even though I don’t use it live anymore (only because my pedalboard has to fit in a suitcase) the Maxon OD-9, which is their version of the Tube Screamer, is the best sounding one out there, and I’ve compared it to old vintage Ibanez TS-808’s and TS-9’s, modified and unmodified – no contest. Plus, the Maxon pedals are true bypass