Archive for the ‘Danelectro’ Category

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.

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.

Danelectro DJ5 Tuna Melt Tremolo

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

DJ5-TunaMelt

What is it?
Danelectro DJ5 Tuna Melt Tremolo from Dano’s mini effects series.

This is one of those that should not be overlooked no matter what opinion you may have about the box/jacks/switch/whatever. Definitely one of the best and most desired boxes in the mini series in addition to Chicken Salad and a few other units. This will always have much more of user than collector value. Opening the  bottom plate reveals the basic electronic switching board, common to the mini series effects.

DJ5-TunaMelt-guts2

But taking that lower board off reveals the effect board. As always, the pots are just bigger trimmers with knobs attached to them, Hard/Soft switch is your standard submini on-on and so on. But wait. What’s the black blob next to lower opamp? Analog optoisolator (or also known as vactrol)!

DJ5-TunaMelt-guts5

So it is optical tremolo and it sounds like it. There are a few different ways to create good tremolo effect. Using analog optoisolator is one of the best. Optoisolators consist of two parts, the LED and LDR. LFO pushes the LED part to blink, which alternates the resistance of the LDR according to LFO speed. Which then causes the signal to go up and down in amplitude. Like i said, there are other good ways too. Here we have two TL072s for the modulation mixer amp and LFO driver. The modulation is applied to inverting input of the amplifier.

Quite simple design, now that i think of it. Mr. Clay Jones has drawn a traced schematic back in 2005. Found on FSBhere. The schematic shows that there are two switchable LFO wave forms. Other uses one half of other opamp and other has a transistor for faster decay.

DJ5-TunaMelt-guts4

Soldering work looks like the person soldering the components doesn’t really care for his/her job. Looks quite bad actually. Sad thing, but what do you expect from pedals in this price range?

I’ll post one more shot of the traces. Those looks pretty neat now don’t they!

DJ5-TunaMelt-guts3

Edit: The design has a “flaw” that i’ve run into earlier, but for some reason i’ve dismissed it. The depth control works only for the soft setting of the LFO wave switch. The control does nothing when the hard mode is engaged. The schematic mentioned above will confirm this.There’s no chance the depth control will do anything when using the hard mode. Also, i’ve seen photos with Tuna Melt units with three knobs instead of two and the switch, but i’ve never seen an actual unit with three knobs. I think there will be more updates to this post at some point…

How does it sound?
Very good. Both controls, depth and speed have a wide variety of useful stuff on the sweep. It sounds very mellow and soft, even with hard settings switched. Not as choppy as it could be, but this is still very nice tremolo. If you can score one for cheap – go for it.

Danelectro DJ-24 French Fries Autowah

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

DJ24-FrenchFries

What is it?
Danelectro DJ-24 French Fries Autowah. Mini series design in a standard plastic mini box.

As the designs in the mini series go, this is one of the ones you probably want. At heart, it is basically a EHX Doctor Q, with a tweak for smoother sounding envelope. Where the original Dr.Q may have some issues to high frequency swish, this one stays fairly quiet on those excess frequencies.

DJ24-FrenchFries-guts2

So yeah. One dual opamp and a transistor. How can it get simpler than this? Switch is there to tweak the range of frequencies that get to the  driving part of the opamp making it pretty much verbatim to the old EHX design. The envelope trigger seems to be the same too. Even the values are on spot with the two schematics found online – except for one resistor.

DJ24-FrenchFries-guts3

If you’re interested, schematics for both, EHX Dr.Q and this can be found online. When compared, the only difference is 390K resistor that is 470K in Dr.Q. So one could pretty easily make Dr.Q better by swapping one resistor. Maybe even come up with appealing name and sell the mod service for a lot of money. Bigger companies ripping each other off makes me smile.

One thing to consider. This is about the half a size of Dr.Q’s nano version. Sound is better, and the price is also about a half as used unit. Yeah. It is plastic, but you could also rehouse this in 1590B enclosure, take the trimmer outside etc. You’d still have better autowah than Dr.Q for about the same price.

How does it sound?
Good. If i was to give out stars, this little thing would definitely get 4.5 on scale from zero to five. It may not be the greatest autowah out there (and it’s not), but it is responsive and clean. Swapping one resistor value does make a difference. While it smooths out the swish, it does bring the overall output level a little lower. Is it noticeable? Some people on the internet seem to think so. For me, i hadn’t noticed it until i read about it. I’m glad i got one of these.

Danelectro DJ8 Hash Browns Flanger

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

Let’s post up two flanger boxes today….


DJ8-HashBrowns

What is it?
Danelectro DJ8 Hash Browns flanger. This series of mini effects was made from around ’99 to 2007 or so. Not much dating information around, maybe because of the super low price and massive volumes manufactured in china.

First, i’ve been surprised about Modtone Minimod Flanger and this. I bet you can’t squeeze a flanger in to much smaller enclosure. And still have a slot for a battery. Think about EHX flangers. Those are about 12 times the size and do they really sound that much better? Or better at all? How much do you use a flanger in your pedal board? Once in a blue moon? Once in each set you play? Even more often? For me, the room on my compact board is quite limited. If i needed a flanger on the board, i’d definitely be looking at this, Minimod, or Ibanez FL5. All are good sounding, working flangers with reasonable footprint for pedal boards.

Like most of the effects in this series, this one is praised for its tone as well as Tuna Melt Tremolo and Milkshake Chorus. Still disliked by “pros” due to super plasticky box.

DJ8-HashBrowns-guts

Didn’t feel like tracing the unit to see what the circuit has eaten. Maybe i one day will. I do find the pots intriguing, as those are basically trimmers with knobs glued on top of them. To add, this is one of those that could be nice rehousing/TB’ing project. There are a lot of detailed projects around the web for rehousing a Dano mini effect, like this one. Google should give you a thousand more. I’ll just wait until all of the existing minis are rehoused. That’ll be the only way the value of these will rise over $20/20€.

How does it sound?
Does not sound too far from Ibanez FL5. It’s really good basic flanger. Almost surprisingly good. Even the bypass buffering doesn’t suck as in some highly praised boxes *cough*bosses.