Archive for the ‘FX-Series’ Category

DOD FX65B Stereo Chorus

Friday, July 8th, 2016

DOD-FX65B-StChorus

What is it?
DOD FX65B Stereo Chorus. Made in USA, early 1997.

Number of things to take a look at here! To begin with, the cool info at America’s pedal tells us that this model was an entry level chorus that was added to the FX series line-up in 1997 – and discontinued the following year. Entry level pricing and pretty much modern standard set of controls, but the manufacturing spanned over 1997 and 1998 only, which means that the number of manufactured units cannot be extremely high – in case you are wondering about that, you should check what other models DOD had going for them during that period. Yup. This is not the only new one presented during the spring of 1997. And what’s obvious, the FX65B was a successor for FX65 chorus that was initially released in 1985. The B-version has no internal trimpots, while the delay line configuration remains per the previous model.  The FX65/B both utilize MN3007 BBD which is driven by MN3101 cl0ck (the same configuration as found in Boss CE-2/3 by the way – which will no doubt lead to me comparing this to CE-2…).

DOD-FX65B-StChorus-guts

The LFO, mixing and buffering are done with three dual opamps, namely JRC4560. The non-B version has had number of revisions before this design, so the opamps have also been different during the 12 year run of the DOD FX-series budget chorus. The number of revisions were mostly seen at Due to board layout and opamp configuration, i’m leaning towards declaring this and its predecessors CE-2 derivatives. Most likely one of the opamp chips is performing as LFO, other as in/out buffers that include pre- and de-emphasis filtering. If the anti-aliasing filters are in place as they are in CE-2, then those are likely done with opamps instead of transistors. The three knob control set does suffice and offer very decent range of control. While the controls are not verbatim to CE-2, the main issue still stands…

How does it sound?
Not bad, but not ground breaking either. In 1997-98, this model has most likely had the best price/tone factor of all the units in the stores. If there is some unexplainable magic to the MN3007 BBD, then it is present here too. Sounding like a pretty basic, yet musical chorus and having nice, working set of controls, there’s little that can go wrong. And yes. There is a lot in common in terms of sound and tone with the heavily praised CE-2. So to acquire one of these (or the predecessor without the “B”) for current street prices is way more appealing idea than to hunt down a working CE-2 or CE-3 for at least three times the money. Sure this does not sound exactly like the praised classic, but still, this sounds very good and i see very little wrong with it.

DOD FX55-B Supra Distortion

Sunday, May 31st, 2015

DOD-FX55B-SupraDistortion

What is it?
DOD FX55-B Supra Distortion. Made in US, early 1990.

One of the pedals that DOD sold a lot back in the day. I assume this probably was the first pedal for many people in the late 80’s and 90’s. And why not. Widely available and in a low price range. The name was originally a Super Distortion, but due to aggressive protection of the trade mark by certain DiMarzio, the name was changed to Supra pretty fast after the initial release in 1986. This was exactly the same thing that happened with Boss DF-2 Super Distortion & Feedbacker. The first units with Supra written on then came out later the same year, leaving the first 6 months of Super Distortions as collectible items. These are rare to the degree that i’ve seen only one or two for sale so far. The supra versions are very common though. And they do come cheap.

DOD-FX55B-SupraDistortion-guts

What comes to the design, there is a schematic up at Fuzz Central. To begin with, the idea of this being some sort of Boss DS-1 derivative is completely false. As the schematic suggests, there is a gain stage with diodes in the feedback loop and the gain control is derived from OD250. After that there’s a hard clipping stage, the volume control and pretty clever tone section. All this accompanied by standard DOD electronic bypass switching and 1458 with both channels used for in/out buffering. Nice design and not as common as one might have first thought.

How does it sound?
Here’s the culprit. Sluggish on the output level and the overall result is just lacking personality. Slightly cutting the lows and while the tone control works pretty well, there isn’t that much good to be said. If we take comparison out and compare this to Boss DS-1, we have a winner here. This victory doesn’t mean all that much, but still. If i had 40€ to burn for a mod base, i’d get FX55B over DS-1 for sure. Just double up on the hard clipping diodes to get a bit more volume out of it and tweak a few of the cap values. Should make a nice beast of a distortion.

As a stock pedal. Not great.

DOD FX53 Classic Tube

Sunday, May 17th, 2015

DOD-FX53-ClassicTube

What is it?
DOD FX53 Classic Tube from DOD’s FX series. Made in USA, 1991.

A unit that’s been mostly put down by the misconception about its design for decades. I know i was under the wrong impression for a long time too. The name may point to the direction of all the different tubescreamers and derivatives, but no. There is practically nothing from TS-family in here. If you don’t believe me, check the hand drawn, traced schematic up at FIS. I do get the idea for the name. The designer may have been after that certain accent on the mids, but that’s not the main thing for this design at all. Look at the first gain stage after the input buffer and the switching. It’s a cross breed with TS-style feedback loop clipping diodes and a 250 OD-style gain control. The diodes in the feedback loop is the only thing bearing any resemblance. This driver stage is then followed by a hard clipping stage before the volume and the tone controls.

DOD-FX53-ClassicTube-guts

Not even the tone control topology show any resemblance to TS circuits. So the design here is not like many the others. I wonder what would have happened if DOD had decided to paint these green. Since majority of players at the prime of this unit’s selling days were about to slam it as a TS-derivative anyway, the green colour would have been a nice touch. Then some folks would have possibly noticed that the TS and Classic Tube do not sound alike.

The build quality is common with all the others from this era of FX-series units and the electronic switching follows others too. And if we try to find a continuity in the design presented in the schematic, this might very well be the link between FX50-B Overdrive and FX55 Super/Supra Distortion. After all, it is brighter in red (could it be called more yellowish?) than the Super/Supra – so in a sense, also a missing colour between the FX50 and FX55. You could also check out the notes on Americas Pedal on the FX53. I believe the author in there is right about the unit trying to be a competitor to TS9, not to copy it in any way.

Even if there were similarities in the tone to the “suspected sisters”, the design does not support that claim. And again, no. Neither does the sound.

How does it sound?
There is a certain emphasis on the mid frequencies that may have led some people to think TS. To me, however, words like amp-like and smooth come to mind. Neither of these are words that i would use to describe a TS or its derivatives. The amount of gain available is quite different too.

Now i’m starting to piss myself off. Why on earth do i keep comparing this to TS, when it has clearly very little to do with that design? Because most of the world still do call FX53 a “DOD’s take on a Tubescreamer”. The design, nor the sound, have very, very little to do with it. How can i be more clear about this? Please. Stop referring to TS when you talk about this effect. I know i’m going to stop doing it. Right. Now.

DOD FX101 Grind – Rectifying Overdrive

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

DOD-FX101-Grind

What is it?
DOD FX101 Grind – Rectyfying Overdrive with EHO (Even Harmonic Overdrive). From FX-series, made in USA between 1996 and 1999.

I was under the impression that the circuit found here would be exactly the same as for FX100 Even Harmonic Overdrive with just very slight changes. Reason for this belief is due to America’s Pedal page for these two effects. Both released at the same time and sharing features, such as speaker emulated output and.. Well. The board design is the same. While the board is the same for both models and thus, they share parts of the topology, there are noticeable differences between the two. Just check the photos for the boards at America’s Pedal. FX100 and FX101. The label on the unit says “with EHO”, so there are many things that are the same – but not all.

I heard about Grind from a friend who told me that it was awesome when used in a feedback loop. This notion puzzled me a bit, since i was pretty certain the effect was the same as the sister pedal, EHO. Once i had a chance to aqcuire one, i went for it.

DOD-FX101-Grind-guts

Saddly, there’s no clear schematic available, factory or otherwise. It still is a distortion unit with two dual opamps. What comes to controls, we have imaginative names in place. Blast is out volume control. Rumble and Burn depict lows and highs. Gain/distortion control is called Fear. As the schematic is missing, i can’t confirm with much certainty, but i believe the EQ controls are gyrators. May the electronic design be whatever, the best part is…

How does it sound?
Fat and usable, good distortion that handles mild overdriven, boosted tones and goes all the way to glass shattering massive Marshall stack. The marketing puts more weight on the metal aspect, but this thing can really go from bluesy to cruel. Usually boxes with preception of being able to do these kind of things leave us half way, with at least second part of the two features either sounding bad or not working at all. Here, the effect is capable of handling modern output pickups too, without sounding bad. Sure, the tone is bigger with moderate/vintage pickups, but still. Good EQ-section and i’ve found myself using this much more than i expected. Mostly for doing my home demo recordings. But in case like this. The pedal being capable of giving out decent tones for base and leads. I don’t see much wrong with it.

As almost non-related side note – the label is definitely “with EHO”, not “with Echo” as some sources seem to refer.

DOD FX96 Echo FX Analog Delay

Sunday, December 28th, 2014

DOD-FX96-EchoFX

What is it?
DOD FX96 Echo FX Analog Delay from FX series. No serial number, but component stamps suggest the unit is made is USA, 1999. The America’s pedal is once again perfect source for the version details and additional info. So check that out before continuing.

I’ve been partly in love with analog BBD-based delay units for a long time. They all do have their shortcomings and added noises, hisses and relative uncontrollability. While the sole idea of using a small chip with thousands of FETs stacked in such a small device is almost stupid, the sounds these chips are able to keep delayed is something that cannot be achieved in any other measures. Many have tried to model an analog delay in modern digital methods, but as many as there are folks trying it, there are equal amounts of people who have failed in this task. In our modern world, the analog delays are not in the cheap. Mostly due to the fact that manufacturing these chips is expensive and are currently produced in limited numbers. Sure there are a few types that are still in production, but not the ones we really want to see and hear in a effects pedal.

Everything about FX96 looks and feels like every other pedal in the series. Quality through hole components and the touch of hand labour is just glowing with pride. This unit houses the revision B circuit board, which adds a 1M trimpot to the original revision.

DOD-FX96-EchoFX-guts

I’m not too interested in the buffer/mixers or even in the SA571 compander (which is used to compress and decompress the signal sent to the delay line and decompress it again afterwards), but the delay line itself. In this model, the bucket brigade device is the almighty MN3005. A 4096-stage BBD and it’s driven by a MN3101 clock driver. In my limited experience with analog delay units, the MN3005 has most definitely been the crown jewel in the list of all BBD chips ever manufactured. Due to its high number of FETs, it can produce up to 800ms of delay time with very reasonable amount of signal distortion (as a side note, the compander is there to eliminate part of the noise and/or distortion produced by the FETs). So long delay times with little distortion. This is the s*it.

The controls are Mix, or Dry/Tape, which sets the output ratio of buffered clean signal and signal processed by the BBD. Delay/Time is used to set the time the signal is stored in the BBD chip before releasing it. This ranges from a few milliseconds to respectable 800 milliseconds. Regen/Repeat sets the amount of signal being passed from the output of the delay line back to its input – resulting in feel of continuous echo. This control ranges from single slap back to infinite “self-oscillating” repeats. I use quotes for “self-oscillating”, since this feature found in most delay effects isn’t exactly an oscillation. And finally the Tape/Quality knob controls the higher treble frequencies that are being passed in the feedback. More cut on the highs and the repeats will die quicker. Not in completely different manner than what we may hear some old tape echo machines to produce. If the high cut is minimal, then the sound will remind us more of a modern digital delay, while still being all analog.

How does it sound?
From rockabilly slapback to super space wars. I said before that this unit is little distortion. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t any, it’s just that the amount of noise/hiss/distortion is at lower level than with some other analog delay units. It isn’t squeeky clean, but the noise floor level on high delay times is just giving it a bit more character, while it doesn’t hurt tone. At least not that much. Very good range in controls, which let you set the the tone to be anything from real vintage sounding to modern. Sure. It does not sound like those pristine modern digital devices, but it sounds very, very good.

If you are after a studio grade noiseless delay, then look elsewhere. But if you are after the tones from the past and beyond, all the way to reality of space, then this unit is for you. I’m nearly in love with it. If i was to sell my collection, this one would be the very last to go. Once i played with this, i was immediately convinced that this is the unit that is a dictionary example of a keeper.

DOD FX35 Octoplus

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

DOD-FX35-Octoplus

What is it?
DOD FX35 Octoplus from FX series. Made in USA late 1995.

For the love of octave dividers! Some will always say that one can never have too many fuzzes. Well. I say one can never have too many down octave divider pedals. As with most of the effects in the genre, the signal is pushed as hard as possible to CD4013 CMOS flip-flip circuit. This will result in our good ‘ol analog down octave tones. The downside to achieving down octave tones with a flip-flop is that the tracking is hard to keep in line. As these dividers go, DOD does it slightly better than other. But i’ve talked about tracking before. So let’s get down to business and open this beast up.

DOD-FX35-Octoplus-guts1

I do feel a bit solace wheneven i open up one of the FX serie DOD. There may not be much symmetry or any other eye candies around, but since the boards are always neatly made, there’s not much negative to say about them. Sure, it could be prettier, but the functionality in design is much more in portant aspect in DODs. Like in architechture of buildings, DOD FX serie represents the functionality. As i said, it may not be that pretty, but it gets the job done. There is an original schematic up at America’s Pedal, in addition to a bit of more information. There’s even a scan of mid 80’s print ad up in there! You should probably check those out as well.

DOD-FX35-Octoplus-guts2

Same aesthetics as for the component side apply to the solder side. Not pretty and there is always this feeling of forced spacing on the board design. Can’t describe it any better than this, but i hope you get my feeling. At least there is some personality in these traces..

What comes to controls, we have our down octave level, tone control and clean level. As the schematic (link above) shows, the level controls determine how much of each signal gets to the output buffer and the tone control affects only the octave side. The topology of the tone control isn’t that far away from the classic one knob tone stack we’ll find in all of the Big Muffs.

How does it sound?
Like a world class analog one octave down divider. Clean level is capable of bringing a bit of boost to our attention while the octave level feels  slightly sluggish. Not that it is sluggish in terms of output, but the lows go low enough to feel like it. Even though it’s just one octave down. What comes to tracking, this is a prime specimen. Divider doesn’t go off the track as badly as many others and it tries its best to keep the divider in control even with two notes ringing at the same time. No, this isn’t polyphonic in any way, but the results are great. The tone control is rather dull and unnecessary. It can take some of the inaudible lows away from the overall sound, but for me, the sweet spot is still where this pot is at minimum level.

Working, good sounding one octave down divider circuit in classic DOD housing. You really can’t go wrong with this one. It may not be the greatest octave down there is, but is still is pretty appealing thing to have.

DOD FX22 Vibro Thang

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

DOD-FX22-VibroThang

What is it?
DOD FX22 Vibro Thang from FX series. No serial number (blue velcro on botton plate and rubber+sticker missing), but judging by the graphics, this unit is made in USA, around 1997.

Only few of DOD FX series boxes have received as wide recognition and fan base as Vibro Thang. A few more should have reached the status, but it’s no surprise why Vibro Thang is nowadays so highly praised. It’s a great, solid design that does everything from mild phasing to absolutely crazy, deep vibrato. There is some additional info on America’s Pedal, which suggests that the initial sales after the release weren’t that hot. I personally recall these units were selling for peanuts in the mid 00’s. I got mine around then. The appreciation wasn’t there at the time. Since then something has changed. The prices for these units are still very reasonable. Possibly due to high(ish) number of manufactured units.

DOD-FX22-VibroThang-guts1

Opening it up shows a board that’s on par with all the other US made FX series boxes. Neat design and solid construction. Now, if we take a look at the electronic design itself, we  have two LM13600 dual OTAs, equaling in four phasing stages. JRC chip is the LFO. There’s a copy of factory schematic donated to Freestompboxes forum, but you’ll need an account for the forum to see it. As a side note, the D6 thing on the America’s Pedal page is wrong. This LED is crucial part of the the LFO and it is exactly where it’s supposed to be.

DOD-FX22-VibroThang-guts2

The design isn’t that basic or something we’ve all seen thousand times before. The idea of having OTA stages for phase/vibe isn’t all new, but controlling how the LFO affects the phase and vibe is another story. So we basically have controls for phase stage feedback, in this case known as Regen, or Image. RPM, or Speed controls the LFO rate. Control named as Width/Drop is our vibrato depth and control called Phase/Intensity controls the phase depth. Not too obvious, but referring to the schematic it all sort of makes sense. With any given combination of Drop and Intensity, we’ll achieve beautiful and different phase/vibe tones. And what’s even more important..

How does it sound?
Any given settings sounds just awesome. It  can be wild and it can be mild. But there’s very little unusable area on controls. Sounds like a perfect vibrato and a perfect phaser. Or a perfect mix between the two. And since the design with four OTA stages hasn’t been done over and over by everyone (before like couple of the other methods of creating a phase and a vibe), the personality in tone of this effect is notable.

Usable. In the biggest meaning of the word. And for me, this pedal is important. For its sound, good controls and, well. Everything.

DOD FX76 Punkifier

Monday, November 24th, 2014

DOD-FX76-Punkifier

What is it?
DOD FX76 Punkifier from FX series. Made in USA late 1995.

I find the back catalog of DOD FX series to be very interesting. There are a lot of great designs and original ideas in there. And there are a number of boring and dull designs. FX76 Punkifier is not dull. At all. Got mine for a fair price in original box and papers. And additional bottom plate with velcros on it. This way the original plate with rubber mat and serial number wasn’t harmed. For that, i want to express my biggest thank yous for the seller.

The main feature of this design is blendable fuzz/distortion. Not too many of good ones in this dual effect genre around. So my initial feeling was that this may be good, but epectations weren’t too high. I rarely check demos out, because those may skew my view of sound and feel. I need to play with a box to know how it behaves. Demos with unknown players, unknown guitars with unknown pickup setup and unknown amplifiers doesn’t really cut it for me. Even if you knew the name of all the variables above, you’d still have to be acquainted with all the gear to make a educated estimate of how everything works. Sure, the youtube demos will show you the ballpark, but not where you are seated.

DOD-FX76-Punkifier-guts1

Build quality is per all the other FX serie boxes of the era. Neat and somewhat beautiful. Carbon resistors, mylar caps and so on. Quite standard thing to look at. There is a floater schematic online, but it may be incorrect (at least it seems that way to me when comparing it against the actual board), so i won’t be posting it or even a link to it. I hate erroneous schematics. You can find it using your favourite internet search engine. I believe it has most of the topology correct, but devil in the details. Anyway. The base topology (minus the electronic switching) goes as follows; From the input – Input buffering, splitter amp to send the signal two ways. Path one is for a controlless fuzz that could have been designed by Devi Ever, but with a few elaborate and weird ideas on it. Most interesting part may be the reference voltage fed to the transistor bases via 22M resistors. Path two takes the signal to OD250 on steroids style overdrive/distortion circuit that has its own gain control. The outputs of these two paths are then blended together with a pot and this signal is passed to a tone control. Which is followed by volume control and output buffering.

DOD-FX76-Punkifier-guts2

This design has many great ideas on it and it is far from just recycling standard fuzz/distortion ideas. If i was to redesign this, i would probably hook up a fuzz texture control for the fuzz circuitry and have that as a dual pot in conjuction with the OD/Dist side distortion control. That could make it even better, but this is f*n amazing as it is.

Controls are name in the DOD’s 90’s methods. Making them next to unintelligle. Punk, Spikes, Slam and Menace. Yup. Way to go. There were others in that time who did similar things when naming their controls. Creative, yes, but not very useful. Little use gets you accustomed to these names though. So it’s not that big of deal. There’s a bit more reading about this unit on America’s Pedal website. Check it out.

How does it sound?
Just perfect. It doesn’t sound much like any other box you’ll ever hear. I’m giving absolute all praise for personality in tone. When distortion side is maxed and fuzz side toned down, there is something reminding me of OD250, but not much. The fuzz side has it all. It is loud and the tone is the same what you get from blowing a nuclear warhead in your bedroom. While the fuzz is just sick, it still has some aspects that act like vintage Tonebenders. No. I’m not comparing it to Tonebenders. That wouldn’t be right at all. It is modern and powerful, with its roots on vintage tones. In addition to those features, the tone control is usable and can peak the highs in ear piercing manner.

This is not the pedal for blues players. This is a pedal for those who want a personal, weird, piercing tones. One of my all time favorites for a dirt box. Superb. I don’t know what more to say.

DOD FX100 Even Harmonic Overdrive

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

DOD-FX100-EHOD

What is it?
DOD FX100 Even Harmonic Overdrive (with Integrated Tube (TM) Technology. Made in USA in 1997.

Of course i was curious about this new and exciting thing called Integrated Tube (TM), or I.T. (TM) technology. What it actually is – it is how marketing department takes random words, put them one after another and place (TM) after it. Sure. It sounds very good and interesting to many to see new technologies arise and be put in use. And in this case, what does the I.T. (TM) really mean? There is a JRC4558 dual opamp in there. So my next question is, “Are you kidding me?!?”

DOD-FX100-EHOD-guts

Actually, the two dual opamps it this late ’97 or early ’98 unit are JRC4560Ds. So apparently the I.T. (TM) doesn’t mean even that. Now let’s put the disappointment aside and check the schematic. Your guitar’s signal journeys trough a FET buffer and reaches a gain stage with Drive control on it. Then we have another FET/BJT gain stage followed by a strange world of single diode clipping (note to self – do not pay big money for FX101, as that is the same circuit, without I.T. (TM) and with a single diode added). Journey continues through a dual gyrator circuitry, which also is a home to Lows control. On the path comes a passive highs filter with a pot on it. This is also the place where we’ll have the volume control. After this, the journey is about to end. We have only make-up gain stage and amp simulated output stages left.

So did this journey warrant any claims for new and exciting technologies? No. Was it really worth it to get (TM) status to something that’s already been done over and over by just about every manufacturer?

Further reading on America’s Pedal website

How does it sound?
Ok sounding overdrive with sluggish output level. I’d say the level is insufficient for anything else but very low, vintage output single coil pickups. Clipping doesn’t feel broken, but nice, warm and harmonic. Even. Lows and highs are controlled nicely, but this just isn’t a very good pedal. Oh. Yes. It’s just my opinion. It doesn’t mean that the unit would really suck. It just means that after the marketing department had its way with me, then come the real issues. Makes me wonder i should just solder that missing diode in and pretend this is a FX101.

DOD FX91 Bass Overdrive

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

DOD-FX91-BODWhat is it?
DOD FX91 Bass Overdrive from DOD FX-series. Made in US around year 2000. No serial or battery door in tact, even though this late enclosure version has the door attached with a rod.

Bass overdrives are a fun genre. I’ve seen a few and nearly all of them are pretty standard overdrive circuits with no cut on the low frequencies. Which means that the designs may be slightly too fat for guitar, but i still think these should be tried on guitar too. America’s Pedal has some info about the unit. It apparently shares the circuit board with FX102 mystic Blues overdrive. There are more features for this version, which explains empty pads on both effects.

DOD-FX91-BOD-guts1

There is a schematic up on the web without the switching part. The drawing shows a buffer at the input, which passes the signal to pretty standard clipping amp and on to a Blend control which mixes the clean signal with the output of that clipping amp. That is followed by a tone stack and a recovery amp and a volume control. simple, but decent design.

DOD-FX91-BOD-guts2

Interesting little fact about these units is that at least some of the units have a factory error. The R3 should be 1K resistor, but some units have a resistor with 200R value on its place instead. This change adds a noticeable amount of gain coming out of the clipping amp, and it shifts the frequency around too. You can read more about it at DIYStompboxes forum.

How does it sound?
Fat and useful. Serves well as bass overdrive and the blend control works also well. There’s enough gain to get soaring blast sounds out. I’ve played with this with a bass and a guitar. Bass is obvious choice to use this with, but it offers very nice boost features for a guitar too. Reasonably  good effect.