Archive for September, 2013

Danelectro DJ7 Milkshake Chorus

Friday, September 6th, 2013

DJ7-Milkshake

What is it?
Danelectro  DJ7 Milkshake chorus from Danelectro mini effects series.

Not bad at all. The series is notorious for what it is – the cheapest possible way to come up with a guitar effect pedal. What Dirk Hendrik states on his site about plastic Soundtanks applies here too. I’ve never come across Dano Mini with broken enclosure. While one can criticize the series all he/she wants to, there are still  a lot of great designs available. This may not come as a surprise, but this one is one of the prime suspects for a rehousing job. Not too much of good information to go on. Maybe i need to tear this completely open one day.

DJ7-Milkshake-guts

I’m not going to rehouse this, unless i get another unit. But as Dano minis go, i wouldn’t make it true bypass either as there’s no real advantage in doing it. Now that i’m heading back to the heresy section, i can say that i’ve never had a problem with buffering eating up my tone with any of the Danelectro designs. Like with most minis, i’m left with mixed feelings. I can see why someone would disregard the whole series because of the box. I’ve even heard rumours that some folks may have had issues with grounding on these. Minis are without a doubt the ugly ducklings of the cheap pedal world. Switching seems durable. Most of the designs sound great. Bypass doesn’t suck. Prices of the new units are very high considering..  ..if you can find a new one these days.

How does it sound?
It’s reasonably good chorus. By the sound itself and not going deeper into tracing the unit, i would say it’s close enough to Boss CE-2. May it be far or close by design, you’ll still be able to get good chorus sounds with vintage feel for a fraction of what CE-2 costs.

Ibanez CM5 Classic Metal

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

CM5

What is it?
Ibanez CM5 Classic Metal from Soundtank series in plastic enclosure, made in Taiwan. Condition could be better, but after swapping the switch it runs like a charm. I never thought that dents or scratches affected the sound in any way. Late 90’s date, so this unit isn’t the most valuable soundtank in my collection, but its value comes more easlily through use.

This is one of the pleasant surprises in the series. Name and basic controls do not raise interest that much, but once plugged in, my face just raises a smile. Clean high gain distortion without noticeable noise content. Simplified Rat as main gain stage that drives a pair of hard clipping diodes. Followed by two active gyrator filters for tone control and taking ecxess frequencies out of the signal. Standard Ibanez switching and buffering included. Simple, yet effective.

This one’s gain stage could be modded closer to a Rat, but as it is – i simply don’t see a reason to do so.

CM5-guts

The board seems quite spacious when compared to some other Soundtanks. Basic, good use for JRC4558. Other half for gain stage and other for tone driver. Again. Simple, yet effective. For those interested, Dirk has a schem up at his site. All in a nutshell – its main stage may be based on a Rat, but overall design doesn’t have too much in common.

How does it sound?
Surprisingly good. Subtle overtones for those high note bends, massive but accurate chord rhythms. In general, very underrated pedal with really good sound. It is just a one trick pony, but does that trick really well. One that should not be overlooked.

Danelectro DJ22 Black Licorice Beyond Metal

Sunday, September 1st, 2013

DJ22-BlackLicorice

What is it?
Danelectro DJ-22 Black Licorice, Beyond Metal from Danelectro Mini effect series.

While many designs in the notorious mini effects series are surprisingly good and most of the designs have some really nice tweaks or upgrades to some other, known classic circuits, this one disappoints in so many ways. If you didn’t know already, i’m somewhat a freak when it comes to octave down effects. As some of you may know, the most common way to create down octave divider sounds is to drive the hell out of  CMOS flip-flop IC. This one is not an exception to that rule. Design reminds me of also notorious MXR Blue Box. There’s something very wrong with the distortion design and the way it handles lower and mid frequencies. Board also feels way too crowded to bother with modding it for more pleasant frequency response.

DJ22-BlackLicorice-guts

Standard mini plastic enclosure, crammed with substandard soldering. Toggle switch bypasses the octave dividing circuit, which acts pretty much in the same manner as Blue Box’s blend control. Next paragraph will tell you why i didn’t dig any deeper to what it does and how.

How does it sound?
Bad. Honking, plasticky and thin, despite the basic octave divider circuitry. Where Dunlop’s Blue Box sucks with its way too low output, this one sucks with everything else. Divided octaves sound reasonable good, but the distortion part is just bad. Worse thhan Fab Metal (more on that later…). Definitely one of the worst (re)designs in this series. Wouldn’t recommend it, unless you are a true down octave aficionado. And even then. This may be good only for trying it once. My first encounter in this series that sounds exactly like it looks. Too cheap. This may be the one Danelectro effect that won’t ever let you get your pennies back.