Posts Tagged ‘Special/Multi’

Danelectro DW-1 Dan-o-Wah

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

DW1-DanoWah

What is it?
Danelectro DW-1 Dan O Wah. Made in china in around 1997.

I sourced this one a long time ago. If i recall correctly, i got it in a trade and there was (and still is) very little traces of use. Gee. I wonder why. That being my first thought about all Dano rocker pedals, i didn’t have too high hopes. I do recall this not working at all when it first arrived. After checking it, the only issue was just loose solder joint at the DC jack. Unit worked fine with a battery and that’s how the seller deemed it as “working”. Quick and simple fix later i was ready to do some more studying.

DW1-DanoWah-1

The outside of the unit is per the rest of the rocker pedals. Looking like a car and having it’s rubber feet looking like wheels. As the controls are not conventional pots, the idea of having the user manual printed in the bottom is not a bad one.

DW1-DanoWah-2

The number of features pictured in the manual shows that there must be more to the circuit than just a standard wah. After all, we are talking about six different wah voicings, all with and without added distortion and up octaves.

DW1-DanoWah-3

Opening the bottom plate confirms my suspicions. Yeah. This hasn’t been drawn over a coffee break. This amount of components and features is something that comes by once in a while, but it’s not your average “let’s just copy the cry baby and leave it at that”. I’m not going to dig too deep into how it is made. I do have my suspicions about the electronic design(s), but i’ll talk about those a bit later.

DW1-DanoWah-4

To begin with, the electronic design has number of switch circuits to select between the modes and banks. The idea of using “banks” in simple analog effect isn’t that common. The “exhaust pipes” act as push buttons that choose the wah mode and if the octave is added or not. Bank, wah and distortion can be turned on with the stomp switches on the front end. This means that the octave can be used in the other section of 60’s/70’s style modes and the second can be without it. Distortion can be engaged from the top buttons separately.

DW1-DanoWah-5

Through hole components on the wah/octave board seem nice. Mostly metalized polyester caps. If the enclosure was metal or just sturdier, this might have been a big hit. Other than  the enclosure, there is very little wrong with this effect.

How does it sound?
At first, pretty standard wah with couple of different voicings on the switches. Add the octave up and the good vibes are coming closer. Add the distortion, and we’re at tonal beach sipping ice cold pina coladas with no hurry to go anywhere. Wah tones are, well. Standard. Not too far off from your basic Cry Baby and/or Vox wahs. The distortion feels generic, but it works great with the wah. Now, when the distortion and octave are both added it’s almost like we have fOXX Tone machine paired with vintage wah. Not bad. But the platicky feel and utter unroadworthiness give their weight for the unit. Due to these shortcomings, DW-1 won’t ever reach the status the design would deserve. Close, but no cigar.

Marshall RG-1 Regenerator

Sunday, March 8th, 2015

Marshall-RG1-Regenerator

What is it?
Marshall RG-1 Regenerator multi-modulation effect. Made in china, possibly around early 00’s

Digital chorus/phase/flange multieffect in the small metal series? Apparently yes. And once we open it up, there’s very little doubt of what the design is all about. Yup. It’s exactly the same board as seen in Echohead and Reflector.

Marshall-RG1-Regenerator-guts1

All these three are sisters with the same topology of TI DSP, Atmel and BSI chips. As we’ve seen with many other modern digital designs, the electronics are all the same, but the code burned n and the label on the top are the only differentiating factors.

Marshall-RG1-Regenerator-guts2

Mostly the pedal is well made and definitely represents the top quality of current chinese manufacturing. It could be that the Marshall quality control is strict, or at least stricter than for what we find in many other current chinese made brands with a low price point.

Marshall-RG1-Regenerator-guts3

I recently saw a same enclosure used with completely different brand on eBay. Sort of like when Daphon started to sell their own “soundtank-like” pedals as E10-series. Wonder how the british mother company feels about that. Anyway. The pedal has decent set of features and while the digital point makes the sound boringly predictable..

How does it sound?
It is still quite versatile sounding unit. Lacking in taste, scent and personality, but still pretty good. Two chorus modes are not surprising, as the flanger, phaser and vibe modes. The step phaser tries to mimic the random stepping of the Boss PH-3, and succeeds to a certain level. The expression pedal input is a very nice feature that adds a lot usability to the tones produced. To sum it up, this would be a nice entry level multi-modulation pedal for anyone who may need one. Nothing great, but nothing too disappointing. These are widely available and one should be able to score one for peanuts as used unit.

EHX Holy Stain

Saturday, September 13th, 2014

EHX-HolyStain

What is it?
Electro Harmonix Holy Stain from XO series.Made in united states in 2010(ish).

Once again. Put a pedal, any pedal, for sale with a broken switch and a price tag around 20% of a new unit. You bet i’ll be there, bombing your email and throwing the little money i have against the computer screen. This was one of those. Simply swapped the defected 3PDT bypass switch and did a little cleaning. Unit works as it should. Or at least close to it.

Checking out the insides shows a DSP based big board. All done in current, dull EHX manner. I’m guessing the drive/fuzz/distortion is done with transistors and the rest is digital. It’s sort of like a modern hybrid.

EHX-HolyStain-guts

Let’s talk about the features a bit. To begin with, the Holy Stain looks like a cross breed between a Muff and a Holy Grail Reverb, with a few added extras. The main stomp switch is our bypass that sets the overall effect on and off. The basic side is controlled by two rotary switches, a tone control and a volume control. The first rotary selects between clean, fuzz or drive modes. The second selects overall tone color between bright, dark and warm. Tone control acts pretty much like the one on big muff pedals and volume is rather self-explanatory. All that is used to set the base tone.

Then we have the rest. Foot switch selects the digital effect mode between room reverb, hall reverb, a pitch shifter and a tremolo. These four modes share the two controls for all of them, the mix and amount. Mix sets the blend of this extra effect against the clean/fuzz/drive tone coming from the first part. The amount acts as a decay time setting for both reverbs. It also sets the frequency of the pitch shifter mode and the rate of the tremolo. Amount can be rocked with a external expression pedal, which makes the tremolo mode a lot more interesting and the pitch shifter to have similar features to a Whammy.

Limited, but still quite a set of features. These usually come pretty cheap, even as new. But if you think about the features and compare them to what you actually use – or want to use. For me, i would probably gone for separate drive and effects sections with a stomp to engage/disengage the effects other than the drive side. Sure there is notable amount of outside the box thinking when the designer has set the features, but…

How does it sound?
I’ll start with the good and go on about the bad a bit later. The Fuzz mode is actually good with its crisp lead sounds. On fuzz mode, the color settings are usable too, even though i tend to leave it on warm. Both reverbs are ok too, with a slight note explained further…

Off to the bad. First off, to me (yup, may be heresy, but i’m talking about my taste) the clean and drive modes are just bad. First thing that comes to mind is the horrible distortion section found in Digitech RP6 multi-effect. Color and tone controls won’t save those, no matter what. Other reason why the RP6 pops up to mind is the latency. All the digital effect modes are fine if you have your mix control below 35% mark. Higher than that, the guitar signal has already gone out of the speakers before the verbs/shifter/tremolo even think about touching the signal. Similar digital lag as heard on RP6.

One very good mode with almost usable multi-effect section – if you keep the mix down enough for it to work right. Otherwise… no.

Nux MF6 Digital Multi FX

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

Nux-MF6-DigitalMFX

What is it?
Nux MF6 Digital Multi FX from the Nux First Series. Made in china in 00’s.

Whole Nux pedal line has been quite interesting line. Some of the designs are straight rip offs, but while the underlying design may be just that, the rest is well engineered and somewhat original. The “First Series”, as i’m going to be referring these units, have nice and personal enclosure design. According to interwebs, Nux is originally nothing more but a sub-brand of Cherub. Folks at Cherub may have wanted to build another brand that seems more prestigious. And they have, more or less, succeeded in that venture.

The enclosure is your standard medium strenght cast aluminium box with good rubber bottom and durable feeling plastic parts. The battery slot is accessible through the pedal lid, and its lid is the cheapest feeling part in whole unit.

Nux-MF6-DigitalMFX-ctrls

Controls on the top are one rotary switch for mode and four standard pots (one dual gang) for setting the parameters of the selected effect. In short, the effects this unit offers are tremolo, rotary, flanger, chorus, multivoice (which is one repeat dual delay in reality) and modulation delay. Others seem to have nice operation range, but the modulation on the mod delay can be turned off. So that the pedal can be used as a delay unit too. All in all, the number of usable effects is nothing short of impressive. And we should not forget about the stereo output and expression pedal input. So yes. There are quite a lot of features in this cheap pedal.

Nux-MF6-DigitalMFX-guts1

When taking a look under the hood, we see modern SMD board with relatively dull view. Flipping the board over shows what one would expect. It is, like the name suggests, a fully digital design. Once again i’m going to leave you with less analysis since my knowledge of all digital circuitry is very limited. There are couple of digital chips in addition to a few opamps. And a oscillator crystal. Feels a bit like a computer now doesn’t it…

Nux-MF6-DigitalMFX-guts2

I got the unit cheap as used one from a local dude. I didn’t have high hopes for it, but since i was, and still am, somewhat fond of the New Analog Series pedals, i wanted to try this one out too. The conclusion?

How does it sound?
Surprisingly good. There’s no negative thin digital feel to any of the modes. Most of the modulation types easily beat some of their analog counterparts. That’s what you won’t hear often from me. Most of the settings are usable. Overall sound is good. Or maybe even great. I do love it when a design offers more than i expected. Well worth a try if you spot used one for cheap.

Danelectro DDS-1 Sitar Swami

Friday, December 13th, 2013

DDS1-Sitar-Swami

What is it?
Danelectro DDS-1 Sitar Swami “Sitar Emulator” from 60’s series, made in china in late 90’s.

I noticed one for sale for a very good price, and the Danelectro enthusiast i am, i just couldn’t let the opportunity slide. These are quite rare and special too. Forget the “Sitar Emulation” part. If you’re judging this one as a sitar emulation, you’re going to hate it. I’ve played with a real sitar and this does not have any resemblance in its sound. But just by listening to  this box gave me an understanding of what’s going on.

Opening the box up made it very clear why there’s no traced schematic available. Two sided circuit boards filled with the tiniest SMD components around. And the size issue doesn’t end there. In addition to standard two board setup these enclosures normally house, there are two daughter boards soldered in 90 degree angle to the motherboard.

DDS1-Sitar-Swami1

If you are interested about this pedal, you should definitely read the Electrosmash’s article on the issue. The article doesn’t analyze the design itself, but it gives you good clue what’s goin on with its semiconductor listing. First of all, the pedal sounds like there’s low octave CMOS divider, an echo circuit and continuous set flange sweeping in the background all the time. All this with a mild upper octave cleanish fuzz that isn’t too far off from the Green Ringer.  Sadly the only controls are level and EQ. This would be something very desirable with more controls (for flange speed, low octave mix and time/feedback parameters for the delay) – but then again, it’s Dano’s interpretation of a sitar emulation. It’s still sick and i can already think of things to use this with. Would have been super to see the breadboard this one was developed on. Must have been a sick mess.

DDS1-Sitar-Swami2

“The droning, resonating tones of the 60’s!”. Now that’s more than correct.

I did notice one thing when tying the pedal out. The flange stays on all the time with noisy power supply. When using a slightly dead battery, the flange comes on only when strings are hit. This is probably good thing to keep in mind when trying to fit this to any sound your after. Another thing. Try placing a fuzz in front of the unit. Instant 60’s psyche lead sounds.

How does it sound?
Sick and good. Like i said, one should not judge this as sitar emulation as it doesn’t do that well at all. To be honest, it doesn’t do that at all. It does it’s own 60’s style sick fuzzed lead sound with special spices in it. And it does that very well. That’s basically nothing you can’t achieve with Boss OC-2, any PT2399 based delay, a Green Ringer and a flanger. But you can get that same droning psychedelia with a single box with no controls. I’m loving it, but the at the same time i think it’s a monster that should not be alive.

Without a further due, the award for sickest multieffect with zero controls go to Dano Sitar Swami.