We get to check out all kinds of mainstream stuff, so trying out the David Ross Winter Storm was a real treat! This 3 in 1 pedal does a LOT of different things, so today we are going to go over it and see what it can do!
David Ross Winter Storm: An All-Season OD!
We have a ton of fun when it comes to reviewing different pedals. We especially like playing with fuzz and overdrive here at EJ. I recently retired most of my analog pedals to use both the Helix for effects, and some of the STL Tones sim pedals. But there are some sounds that none of the digital stuff can really replicate. I may be a pedal heretic, but I know my limits.
The David Ross Winter Storm pedal is something a little different and it piqued my interest upon the first glance. David sent one of these over to us to check out, and I have been pretty surprised with what it can do! I have used several overdrive/distortion combos before when I played with Broken Glow. This pedal would have been great for that band.
I enjoyed playing in a modern blues-rock band, but I often got tired of the same old pedals. Like a lot of guitarists, I relied on my BOSS Blues Driver mixed with my amp’s dirty channel. It didn’t change too much of my amp’s tone. But the options were limited when it came to that kind of “transparent” pedal.
On the other end of that spectrum, I used a TS9 and a 5150 amp for Metal bands I played with. If you are looking for your typical distortion, or super high gain circuit then the Winter Storm is not for you. However, it can add to you high gain sounds in a very interesting way.
But if you are looking for a subtle, yet striking tone machine? The Winter Storm might be right up your alley! Your imagination is really the only limit, here. We got to put it through the paces with a few different amps, as well as amp sims that take pedals well.
David Ross Musical Instruments is a popular repair shop in Binghamton, NY. David opened his shop two years ago, after growing up in a musical family. His father, Eric Ross, is a professional music teacher and avant-garde Jazz musician. So David grew up with some pretty cool vintage gear in his home, and had some early experience with older, classic pedals.
The Winter Storm is David’s first attempt at making a pedal for public use, and I think he knocked it out of the park. Today we are going to check out just exactly what makes this pedal so cool, and talk about what kind of guitarist would LOVE to have one of these!
Let’s dig in, and take at look at the David Ross Winter Storm!
David Ross Winter Storm: Features And Specs
When I first took the Winter Storm out of the box, I felt like this was a rather unassuming pedal. But the difference, is what is underneath the hood. There are three different ways you can use this pedal, and it excels at all three. There is a lot going on here, so let’s break it down.
The three way switch in the middle of the pedal allows you to choice the “mode” of the pedal. You have a light overdrive, a clean boost, and a mid-level gain distortion. All three share the same controls when it comes to EQ. The Winter Storm theme of snowfall hides the EQ in clever metaphors:
- Intensity: Gain
- Depth: Bass
- Visibility: Treble
The back of the pedal opens up and can be powered with a 9 Volt battery. It also has your standard 9V DC adapter plug in the back. You also have the standard input and output 1/4” jacks on either side of the pedal. The artwork is really cool in my opinion (no pun intended) and the cream color stands out from your usual pedals.
The pedal is “regular” sized, encased in a familiar Hammond-style box. You have a red LED to that tells you when the pedal is engaged. The 3-way switch is out of the way, so you won’t be stepping on it by accident. I like the vintage styled knobs, also in a classy cream color.
The Winter Strom might be the first pedal David designed, but it went through quite a few prototypes before we ended up with this finished product. This is not some kit-bash pedal, and the workmanship inside and out is top-notch. David wanted to do something different in the pedal world with the Winter Storm, and I definitely think he accomplished it!
David Ross Winter Storm: Review
Rarely am I shocked or taken aback by any guitar products these days. Especially when it comes to pedals and effects. Most of them do exactly what it says on the tin, and I think that’s fine for most players. But my expectations were slightly subverted when it came to the Winter Storm, in a very good way.
I was even a little confused at first, as I plugged in and started playing. Most pedals beat you over the head when it comes to the sounds they have to offer. The Winter Storm is much more subtle, and deceptively so… at first. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting, but what I got was something completely different, and that was by design.
David On Creating The Winter Storm:
The Winter Storm was created as a result of learning about guitar effects pedals, researching different designs and schematics, and building numerous prototypes which eventually led to the product I have for sale today. It all started when I decided to order and build a guitar pedal from a kit. It was a clone of the MXR Micro Amp, which is a simple one knob clean boost.
I wanted something that wouldn’t alter my original guitar sound unless I wanted it to. Often times when I would use commercial guitar pedals, I felt like I was forced into sounds even with the settings at minimum. I wanted to create a guitar pedal where I could add as much or as little change to my guitar tone as possible.
I couldn’t agree more with David’s approach, for a whole plethora of reasons. I think we guitarists are so used to pedals being overwhelming and “in your face” that something like the Winter Storm is a pleasant surprise. I liked the fact that I had to actually fiddle with the knobs to get a result, and hear a change in my tone.
Gain is really easy to add when it comes to guitars, but taking it away can be… problematic. Most overdrive and distortion pedals immediately change your tone the second you stomp on them. The Winter Storm is like a light tap compared to the usual knock-out punch that you would get from normal “production” pedals.
Which… is something I have always found rather funny in the pedal world. I see guitarists rave on and on about how amazing the tone of their amp is, and how perfect it sounds! Then they use a pedal that completely changes the sound of the amp. Not just the sound, but the entire character of the amp and the player’s tone.
Maybe I am a little old school when I think your amp should produce the majority of your sound, and pedals should just add a touch of flavor. Then again, maybe I am just old (I haven’t bought the mid-life crisis Porsche yet, but I feel it could happen any day). The Winter Storm allows your amp to do the heavy lifting, and just boosts/adds to your tone.
The Clean Boost setting does exactly what it says, it gives you a little extra oomph where you need it. I used this with my lead crunch tone, and it didn’t change the character of my sound at all. I added a little bit of bass and treble, but overall my original sound was unchanged until I turned up the intensity.
This would be perfect for playing a solo in a band mix. If you leave the intensity knob around noon, it will just give you a light tap and boost your sound. Turn the intensity all the way up, and your sustain will be out of this world as it works almost like a compressor. Turn up the visibility, and your tone cuts like a knife.
The Overdrive is a little more of the same, with a bit more hair on it. But again, it didn’t really change the overall character of my tone. It just “colored it in” a little bit. If you play with the pedal EQ you can get it to blend really well with your amp’s natural overdrive. This would be great for changing parts during a song.
For instance, you could use your amp’s overdrive for a good portion of the verse, and kick on the Winter Storm for the chorus on the song. This would not only give you a little boost, but also a solid EQ shift so your guitar can stand out a little in the mix. It can also dirty up your clean tone a little, and make things a little nasty if you crank the intensity.
The Distortion setting I found was best used on the clean channel of my amp. This is not some all-out Metal style distortion in any way, but it sounds awesome for leads on an already hot amp; like a cranked VOX AC30. But the running theme here is that I never lost the tone of my amp. The Winter Storm just adds some flavor to you amp’s overall sound without changing the character.
The Winter Storm also plays well with other pedals, like the Ibanez Tube Screamer. I put both of the these pedal’s controls right at noon and it sounded great layered together! The Winter Storm has more EQ options than the TS however, and I was able to blend the sounds into a seriously “vocal-like” lead tone. Add a dash of reverb, and you are in solo heaven.
But that is exactly what the Winter Storm was designed to do. It is made to work not only as a stand-alone pedal that does three different things really well, but also as a pedal that you can stack with other drives. This gives you a ton of different options when you factor in the 3-way switch.
You can let one of your other pedals be the main overdrive, and use the Winter Storm simply as a boost if you want. That’s what makes this such an intriguing pedal at the end of the day. You have so many options when it comes to how you use the Winter Storm. It’s a cool pedal on it’s own, but it also works well if you like to stack your gain pedals in a certain order.
But Christopher, you handsome and talented man, don’t you play heavy stuff? How does this work in THAT type of application?
I actually have a video that I am working on (and will be posted here when it is done) of the Winter Storm being used in a more traditional context, as well as the way that I would use it, for heavier stuff. I wish I could just describe it to you, but it works very much the same way with very heavy tones as it does with lower gain applications! Again, the idea is to color the sound and add to it, not change it entirely.
Spoiler alert, but it does work well for Metal and other “heavier” types of tones. But not in the way that you might think. It is absolutely NOT used like a TS9 that you throw in front of a high gain amp to get rid of the “flub”. I tried it this way, and the Winter Storm did not want to play along…and I don’t blame it. You’re better than that, Winter Storm.
But if you use it as a supplement to high gain tones, it really shines. You can add definition if you want, or dial it back, akin to using your guitar’s tone knob. I tried this with all of my usual studio sounds and it was surprising. The Winter Storm adds some serious character to my usual recording tones, even with the high gain sounds!
The Clean Boost and Overdrive functions both work incredibly well with high gain tones, even if it wasn’t exactly designed to work like that. You can dial out high frequencies while pushing the low mids in both real amps, and even high gain amp simulators! This allows your guitar to really “cut” in a mix. This makes the Winter Storm act like a “third channel” for your high gain tones. I will update this article with the video as soon as it is done.
The Winter Storm: Wrapping Up…
What an absolute relief it is to get some fresh, interesting products in the studio to kick off 2023! The Winter Storm was exactly what I needed to feel a little more invigorated. It is always nice to find a quality, unique product. If you are looking for a very versatile pedal that adds fully controllable tonal “color” to your sound, then the Winter Storm might be right up your alley.
I agree with David about some pedals that do a little “too much” when it comes to adding to your sound. You certainly don’t pay good money for an amazing sounding amp, just to let pedals be the basis of your tone. It should be the other way around. The Winter Storm allows your amp to shine through, while adding character.
David Ross really did his homework when it comes to pedals, and I think he has something brand new to offer players of ANY genre. Yes, it would be great for Blues and Rock players, but you would be surprised at what it can also add to high gain lead tones! It can push your sound right over the edge, or tame the highs if your tone has too much fizz.
I tried the Winter Storm with a traditional amplifier, as well as my BOSS Katana amplifier. I got the most use out of it with amp sims, surprisingly! The Winter Storm even works well with STL Tones AmpHub. What a totally unique pedal that David has created. I hope we see a whole lot more from David Ross Musical Instruments, with the same thought, precision, and practicality that the Winter Storm exudes.
Where Do I Buy The Winter Storm?
David sells them directly from his site, and you can click here to buy the Winter Storm. While you are there, check out the rest of his site! He has some great information about guitar repair on his main site, and his blog.
You can also follow David’s guitar adventures on Instagram and Facebook!