Black Ice Overdrive


Senior Member
Anybody have an opinion on the "Black Ice Overdrive" from StewMac?  I just ran across it and it interests me...

- edit -
here is a link:,_pickups/Components:_Black_Ice_overdrive.html
I've looked at and wondered the same thing. For the price, it couldn't hurt to buy and hook up to an extra tone pot on a strat.
this was discussed before, kinnda vague, its a clipping thing, it cuts frequencies, and lowers output i think, to get an overdriven sound.
someone did a bunch of tests with it, and posted sound clips, let me search
try the emg ab,  20 db of gain, needs a nine volt,  i think its about 50 bucks could be wrong
I got one of these sitting around here..

I bought it thinking I could link it up with mini humbuckers and 500k pots.

But the specs recommend a 250k pot and a quite powerful (10+k) pickup. This is a kinda strange combination, as most single coils (that usually use 250k Pots) don't have 10+ K ratings. :icon_scratch:

Anyways, I tried the mini hums on 250k pots and it didn't work - at all. Suspect I had a cold solder joint somewhere, but I couldn't be bothered giving it another go to be honest.

Both the mini hums and the Black Ice are stored away at present.

the suggested rating on the pot they give is probably just for the black ice itself.

it is just a pair of diodes that limit the output. when the pickup puts out enough voltage for the diode to "turn on" it allows a path to ground. this puts a cap on the max amplitude of the signal, when the pickup hits this  amplitude the peaks are essentially cut off.

a lower value volume pot limits the pickup output. mostly at the resonant peak where voltages are likely to be higher, this may limit the ability of the black ice to overdrive.

if you chose to use one, get those pickups really close for more output and use a 500k on the volume, 250 on the black ice. if you have a tone you may like a bigger cap with it.

From the "Installation instructions"

Notes on Installation
The Black Ice is a proprietary design passive distortion circuit that simulates the warm overdrive of a tube amp.

Simulation never cuts the mustard. Get tubes!