Archive for the ‘Original Series’ Category

Danelectro DC-1 Cool Cat Chorus

Sunday, June 7th, 2015

Danelectro-DC1-18V-CoolCatChorus

What is it?
Danelectro DC-1 Cool Cat Chorus, the original 18V version. Made in china, 1996.

Again? Didn’t i write about this already? Well. I did, but with the later 9V version. This is the first edition that runs on 18V. Are there a lot of differences between these two? Well. Not that much, but i thought this would still warrant the overview. On the outside, the differences are minute. The only noticeable thing is the “18V” note next to the power supply jack. Once the bottom plate is removed, there are two battery snaps in place.

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This is definitely the most interesting thing about the whole series. As the enclosure is the same for all “original series” boxes, there is this dual battery slot present in every single one. The reason must be that the 18V DC-1 was designed first and i’m assuming there were plans to use the 18V supply voltage on later models as well. Other 18V units never happened, but the dual slot remained in every pedal. Which is quite funny considering that the Dan-Echo uses only 5V for its entire operation. Due to two batteries and the doubled supply requirement, the jack board is slightly different too.

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Rest of the circuit remains closer to the latter 9V version. As Dano pedals come, this is the most beautiful board design in them all. Completely filled and there is something that reminds me of Ibanez L-series boxes with extremely crowded boards a bit. Tight squeezing also resembles some of the old japanese boards i’ve seen. Although this isn’t as packed as, for example, the Pearl Electro Echo. No standing resistors.

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The factory that was chosen to build these had their quality high gear on with this first run. This doesn’t mean that the later pedals are done in a sloppier manner, but the plant was obviously not in a hurry when they produced these.

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Either way. It’s very close to the latter 9V version by all the other standards. And by design. I’d go as far as saying this is the Danelecto equivalent of Maxon/Ibanez FL-301/FL-301DX. Same box with same design. Just different power supply requirement. And that does affect one thing…

How does it sound?
Great. Fat and lush. Extended headroom and simply beautiful swirls. Definite competitor to Boss CE-2. I do not pull this card out too easily.. But. I think it’s warranted here. Very good sounding chorus that shows dedication to detail from the design crew. I’m fairly certain the world was expecting a lot from Danelectro when these came out in 1996. Sadly, it’s been quite a steep downhill ride from there. But this unit is really top notch. No way around it. Possible the best Danelectro pedal ever.

Danelectro DT-1 Dan-O-Matic

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

Danelectro-DT1-DanOMatic

What is it?
Danelectro DT-1 Dan-O-Matic from Dano “Original series”. Made in china around 1996 or 1997.

This model was the very first of tuner pedals in the Dano pedal catalogue. It was replaced with the red DT-2 a bit later (which i’m still missing to complete my Original series collection at the time writing this). Due to not having the DT-2, i can’t compare the two. Anyway. To begin with, the housing is the classic big heavy cast metal as with the others in the series.

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Housing is the same as in others, having the two battery slots while only one in use. It’s a digital tuner pedal, so i didn’t have the enthusiasm to take the boards out. I’m pretty certain that all Dano tuners utilize the same technology. This meaning that while the accuracy may be sufficient, the dim liquid crystal display is the biggest culprit. Using this at home in a broad daylight isn’t a problem. But once you take it to the stage, you’re f’d.

So it is pretty much the predecessor for Mini series tuners. Only in less usable metal housing and with same ailments.

How does it sound?
Like most if not all tuners. It doesn’t. It’s reasonably accurate stage tuner with standard Dano electronic bypass. Due to it’s relatively dim LCD, it’s next to useless. Sure it is decently built and a nice looking thing. But that’s where the good stuff ends. No. I do not have much good to say about it, so i might as well just stop here.

Danelectro DD-1 Fab Tone

Monday, April 6th, 2015

DD1-FabTone

What is it?
Danelectro DD-1 Fab Tone Distortion from Dano original series. Made in china around 1997.

Distortion from original series.. Since all the others have certain vintage vibe to their tones, i had no expectations one way or another. On the other hand, i’ve had this unit for years now and it’s not that easy to write about it as this was my first encounter. There have been rumours about the design being a slight derivative of Boss MT-2 Metal Zone. Sure. Both are guitar effects. There is a floater schematic available. Huge image, and there are some similar parts in there. But i would not call this a Metal Zone. Nor even a derivative for that matter.

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The box is solid and weights a ton. The boards are your average chinese make with reasonably good soldering. These will never be scarce in used pedal market and thus, the price will probably stay in pennies for the next decade or two. The most disliked feature in the box design must be the plastic board mounted jacks that are kept in place by the two screws. The same two that hold the jack board in place. There is nothing else fastening them. I for one have only seen a few broken jacks on this enclosure type. That’s nothing when compared to usual faults, the dead capacitors…

How does it sound?
Very decent high gainer, with good EQ controls. These units should give you usable lead tones for decent price. For the brave one, this could serve as a good mod surface too. Lower gain and not as shrilling highs would be something i would go for. But. Since i don’t have a double and this unit is in nice condition. Nope. Not modding mine.

Either way. Think of something between a Marshall Shredmaster and a Boss Metal Zone or Heavy Metal. This is way more of a distortion than an overdrive, but there is plenty of tweakable usability in there. Not a bad pedal.

Danelectro DE-1 Dan Echo

Sunday, March 22nd, 2015

DE1-DanEcho

What is it?
Danelectro DE-1 Dan-Echo from Danelectro original series. Made in china, late 90’s.

I had one of these back in 2000, but sold it at some point. Once i had a chance to get one back for reasonable amount of cash, i grabbed it. These are in no way rare or scarce and anyone should be able to get one if one feels like getting it. The design has remained the same since 1996, but i believe these have been manufactured for a long time. I’ve not heard anything new from Dano since the Cool Cat series. According to Wikipedia, the Evets corporation,  which revived the brand in the 90’s, is currently focusing in limited edition guitars. I’m thinking the well selling units are still in production, while R&D has been dropped.

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As with all the other units with this type of enclosure, there are two circuit boards. The bigger one holding the PT2395-based delay circuitry, switching and controls, while the smaller one has the in/out jacks and power connections. Switching is our standard CMOS electronic switching found in almost every Danelectro pedal (except for Cool Cat series, which has mechanical true bypass in place. But for others..)

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The designs seems to be somewhat close to the application example found in PT2395 datasheet. Sure enough, the chip will not function in any other manner and the board size does give some limits to what the unit can have inside. Solid construction with slight flux residue. While construction is solid, it is still looking a lot like an average work found in mini effects series. Done fast and cheap.

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One thing that surprised me was the power. As with just about every pedal with  digital chip in them, we have the supplied 9V for the signal path and a regulated drop to 5V for the digital chip. Not in here. The 9V doesn’t connect to anywhere else but to a regulator input, marked as C201 in the jack board. The 9V does not get to the main board at all. Just the regulated 5V, which is then used for operating the switch, buffers and mixing – in addition to supplying the power for PT2395. JRC4558 used in mixing does work fine with 5V, but all this still surprised me a bit.

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What comes to controls, this puppy has quite versatile options. Maximum delay time is somewhere around 700ms and the high cut control can dial the classic tape-style sounds. Delay time mode is set with a toggle switch, like the datasheet suggested. The delay time control is named “speed”, which suggest a modeling of tape echo units. The repeats control is tuned to act like pristine effects. No noisy, endless feedbacks. Just decent guitar echo. In general, i’d call this feature rich standard delay with just a few minor caveats.

How does it sound?
Overall – good, if not great. The high cut, mentioned above, makes a huge difference between Boss DD-3-like sharp, metallic digital delay and soft vintage-like tones. But for me, i find it rather useful to have both worlds in a single box. The controls are good and while the digital chip offers low noise operation for the delay itself, the 5V for the opamps tend to distort the signal pretty badly when the unit is used with high output pickups. For vintage and moderate output pups there is nothing wrong with the tone. Solid sounds and good controls, the best feel is present when used for vintage delay sounds.. Good unit, and when we take the current street prices of used units into account, we really can’t go wrong with this pedal. Just keep in mind that the headroom is what you can get with 5V and the operation sucks with modern pickups. There is a good reason for the level of popularity.

Danelectro DC-1 Cool Cat Chorus

Sunday, November 10th, 2013

DC1-CoolCat-ChorusWhat is it?
Danelectro Cool Cat Chorus, later 9V version, made in china around 1999-2000.

Earlier versions were fed with 18V supply and supposedly sound even better. My unit is the later one with standard 9V input, making it very common and easy to obtain chorus box.. Got it for a reasonable price a long time ago. Comparison between the two versions would be very nice thing to experince. Oh well. I guess i’ll just have to keep an eye out for the old one. The 9V supply is way more popular and easier for people to use. So i see Dano’s point in changing the supply for later models. By my experience (and due to not having played with original 18V version), this is the king of all choruses. Built to take a large hit from a large beaver. On the negative side, the box is big.

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The traces are sturdier than on most factory pedals in the same price range. Soldering is also neat with just a tiny hint of sloppiness around here and there.

The Danelectro way of building these things is admirable. Circuit boards stacked and cut to fit the enclosure perfectly. Techinally the designs is your standard 3102/3207 timed chorus with standard controls of LFO speed and width/depth, that is now called “chill”.

DC1-CoolCatChorus-guts2

By today, i still have not seen one of these units with a broken or non functional switch. Maybe i just don’t know about those cases, or they just last time way better than other similar plastic solutions. I have heard complains about the plastic jacks, but i’ve personally never ran into problems with those either.

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All in all, there are lots of similarities between the “original” series and later mini series, including the switching (which is not bad), the pots (not that bad either) and the jacks (not great, but not too bad). So the main difference between these and some of the mini series boxes is the metal vs. plastic enclosure.
This. Definite workhorse.

How does it sound?
Like a landmark for soft analog choruses. Doesn’t bend to extreme settings, but does the thing i expect it to do and does it really well. If i was to use a chorus on my board, this would be very high on the list. Did i already mention it sounds soft and pleasing on all possible settings? Guess not. But it does.

Danelectro DO1 Daddy-O Overdrive

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

DO1-Daddy-O

What is it?
Danelectro DO-1 Daddy-O overdrive, built in 1996.

Got mine through ebay for a very reasonable price. Some natural road worn, sratches and paint chips. It’s good only either in this condition or as a mint. Quite happy with aesthetics. Inside, there are two boards screwed on the very sturdy design enclosure. I think these could easily outlast humankind.

Neat and well designed board. According to russian trace of the unit from 2003, topology goes as follows: Input buffer taking care of the bypass splitting -> variable gain stage -> another gain stage -> hard clipping LEDs -> three band tone control -> volume control -> output buffer. Pretty standard stuff. Vref voltage is divided with 4K7 resistors, so i think that draws more current than it would need.

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Schematic is not too far off from some Marshall designs like Drivemaster and Bluesbreaker, but there are differences. Traces are modern, but still look eye pleasing and neat. The construction and soldering also look like it’s done the way these should be done. Don’t know why these units have such a bad rep as they do. They are well made and they sound…

How does it sound?
Really good. Due to it being close to designs mentioned above makes it very usable with its 3 band eq controls and nice range of gain from mild overdrive to distortion. It is a redesigned Marshall, and it is at least as good as its predecessor. And what kind of distortion? Think of original Marshall Drivemaster making out with Mad Professor Sweet Honey OD with added 3 band EQ.  Very underrated overdrive pedal. One of the greatest examples why Danelectro pedals appeal to me.