Posts Tagged ‘Octave’

Danelectro DJ-12 Chili Dog Octave

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

DJ12-ChiliDog

What is it?
Danelectro DJ-12 Chili Dog Octave from Dano Mini Series. Made in china around mid ’00s.

For one of the coolest mini series boxes. There are quite a few that are simply 1:1 ripoffs of higher end brand designs. It seems that mainly Boss and MXR have been hit hard by the Dano design team. Granted there are others too, but for this one.. I’m pretty certain that the design is derived from Boss OC-2 Octave. Only it’s about a half in size and squeezed in with tiny SMD components to make that happen.

DJ12-ChiliDog-guts

As there are no distinct differences in sound when compared against OC-2, i felt little enthusiasm in opening the whole unit up. Circuit is big enough that Dano engineers had to use both boards to accommodate everything. On many Minis, the bottom board only houses electronic bypass switching and sometimes in/out buffers. As you can see, that number of CMOS flip-flops isn’t used only for the switching. As with many other units of the series, the downsides are plastic housing and buffered Dano bypass switching. All the rest? An underestimated diamond in the rough.

As for the controls, the layout and feel of them is exactly one to one with OC-2. There is your dry signal level, plus own mix controls for one octave down and two octaves down. To put in in one word, Sweet.

How does it sound?
Sweet. Haunting, fat and the tracking is neat with occasional wandering thought. Like the flip-flops forget the signal they are getting in and head to south instead of west. The best tracking can be achieved with playing single notes around 10-15th fret. For chords this isn’t very useful, just as its Boss big brother. It offers quite clear down octaves that could come handy in number of occasions. For its cheap price and extremely high fun factor, this unit should be at least tried out. Playing with this one at home will result in severe brain melt, probably not as severe as with DOD BuzzBox or modded MXR Blue Blue, but still. Severe.

Danelectro LM-1 Black Paisley Liquid Metal

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

LM1-BlackPaisley

What is it?
Danelectro LM-1 Black Paisley Liquid Metal distortion with optional down octave. Made in china around early to mid 00s.

Danelectro is a fun and sometimes quite surprising brand that truly appeals to me. For some reason i’m sort of an sucker for those floral patterns, so the graphics on the pedal have their own piece. of attraction as well. Where some of the Danelectro units are meh, kinda ok or well designed (or sometimes just redesigned), there are some that really blow my mind. This unit is one of those. In addition to very successful graphic design, just take a look of the photo below. Check the placement of the SMD resistors and caps. symmetry is astounding. No schematic around. I think that this is not a prime suspect for tracing due to heavy component count and pretty complex overall design. After all, it is a super high gain distortion with good EQ controls and an added flip-flop based down octave.

LM1-BlackPaisley-guts

All the controls deliver what they promise. To begin with, there’s your volume pot, in addition to distortion and two band EQ with separate controls for bass and treble. Next, there’s the mids control on a switch that goes from flat mids to scooped to boosted. Lastly there’s a down octave slide switch between the jacks. All the controls work well and offer quite a large palette of tweakability.

How does it sound?

The sound has its own character when it comes to distortion. Down octave feels quite wild, even though this doesn’t get even close to overwhelming DOD Buzzbox kind of wild. The personality in the sound reminds me easily of many classic metal distortions, like Boss HM-2 and MT-2. Boosted mids on this one are probably a game saver for many HM-2 fans. Output level is sufficient and the EQ plus the mids switch offer a lot of versatility for overall tone. Very versatile and still it manages to have a personality. Very recommended Danelectro unit, and not just for down octave enthusiasts.

Ibanez OT10 Octave

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

OT10

What is it?
Ibanez OT10 Octave from Power series. Made in taiwan around late 80’s.

The most interesting Ibanez boxes are the couple of designs that only occur once. There are more examples where the designs have lived on in different series with slightly different names or very slight differences. For example, all the different Tube Screamers and metal distortions. Where as TL5 Tremolo from the Sounstank series is the only tremolo effect Ibanez ever produced, the OT10 Octave is the only octave effect offered by Ibanez. These are bound to gather some noticeable collectors value. Box offers up and down octaves that can be mixed with the clean signal. The clean is the same as bypassed signal. Trace design isn’t looking too beautiful, but there’s nothing wrong with it. Just your standard modern style traces.

OT10-guts1

Like all 10-series boxes, there are two circuit boards. One with the controls and one as the main board. Boards are connected with 10 stranded ribbon cable. All three pots are 100K Ohm linear taper PCB mounted carbon ptos. The ouput buffering  and part of the electronic switching network is also placed on the control board. The schematic is up online. Once again, it’s Dirk’s beautiful trace, which is simply amazing work.

OT10-guts2

The buffering aside, the signal is splitted into three and fed to down octave divider, up octave circuit and a clean channel. Down octave is created by standard method of driving the s*it out of 4013 CMOS chip by one quad opamp. Upper octave is done by two diodes and wonderful looking inverting/non-inverting amplifier pile. Clean comes through with single unity amplifier.

OT10-guts3

All this is is mixed with three pots and passed on to last filtering buffering stage. I think the design is quite elegant and still far off from the circuits considered standard, like Boss OC-2. The design clearly has potential, so it makes me wonder why Ibanez (or Maxon) didn’t pursuit the idea further..

How does it sound?
This might be the main contributing factor why OT10 remains the only octave effect in Maxon/Ibanez back catalog. Up and Down octaves are both relatively clean, with the low one being just as unstable in frequency tracking as it usually is with octave dividing designs. The box does get way better if driven by some angry fuzz or distortion. While both octaves have their own personalities and the box sounds generally good, i see why this wasn’t as big of a hit OC-2 for example. Good thing is that those who have the box usually know why they have it – it has more than just collectors value. It’s quite usable. It has more going for it than just plain two different octaves. Character. Wouldn’t use this on my board as everyday octave box, but it’ll be with me in the studio. Every time.

DOD FX33 BuzzBox

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

DOD-FX33-BuzzBox

What is it?
DOD FX33 BuzzBox, made in USA around 1995.

Now here’s something you won’t see everyday. When something is worth overdoing, let the DOD engineers show you the real way of the beast. Design is just sick. The America’s Pedal article on the history of the design is a very good read. There is a schematic available online, named Leafblower. It’s drawn by Celadine and it is spread accross two pages. It’s not that complicated, but still a big design.

DOD-FX33-BuzzBox-guts1

So in fact the design has distortion and octave divider in parallel, which is nothing too special when compared to other low octave divider circuits around. But this time the voicing and gain are set quite perfectly for extreme buzz. The controls work well, even though the names are gibberish. Heavy is controlling the mix between distortion and low octave output, Buzz acts as distortion control, Saw as tone and Thrust is your overall output level.

DOD-FX33-BuzzBox-guts2

As a nice curiosity, there’s a sticker inside with ” Dana B 232″ printed on it. These units usually sell for a lot. I happened to be quite lucky and got one from a friend in a trade that was good for both of us. Thanks Markus.

Due to the circuit being more complicated than its peers, it’s not your average suspect for cloning. After all, there are three dual opamps and a CD4013 flip-flop in addition to a few transistors and clippers. But from economical point of view a reissue should be welcome.

How does it sound?
Massive low octave noise monster. Some folks claim it to sound like a Rat driving a Bluebox, but to my ears it’s not even close. Think of two DOD Grunges in parallel and blasting the resulting hyper distorted signal through quadruple bass booster that has all the frequencies divided into lower octaves ála Bluebox. Yes. It is that sick. in the same time this sounds like a mash of a leafblower, a vacuum cleaner and a demon possessed NES system on speed.

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.