New Arrivals For August 2019

The plan this month was to finally buy a nice rack for my home studio, so that I can get the Synergy amp wired up once again. That didn’t go so well. Silver linings and all that though …

I found a rack that I liked on DV247’s website, paid for it … and later that day received an email from them asking for almost 30% extra money before they’d ship it. Now, the regulations on selling online are clear: you’re not supposed to do that. So yeah, that purchase fell through.

Before I could find and order an alternative from somewhere else, some of the remaining pedals from my bucket list turned up for sale. Interesting (to me) pedals have been hard to find at prices I’m willing to pay all summer long. Having three come along at once was an opportunity I’m glad I didn’t have to pass up.

Wampler Plextortion Drive Pedal

Earlier in the year, I picked up a JHS Angry Charlie to go with my JHS Charlie Brown. It got me thinking: are there any other pedals out there that chase the JCM 800 sound? And this is the only other pedal I could think of.

Brian doesn’t make these any more, and second hand examples are currently pretty rare. (Not the rarest, as we’ll see shortly!) During a summer of slim pickings, it was great to see this turn up for sale.

The pedal arrived just after the second heatwave we’ve had this summer, and it’s been too hot to do anything that a quick dead-on-arrival check so far. It sounded good. I’ll update this when I’ve been able to give it a decent amount of time.

Wampler Black 65 Drive Pedal

The second of my three bucket list pedals is another Wampler, and one I’ve owned before: the Black 65. I had one of these as a Christmas present from my wife, in 2012 I think? I can’t remember why I sold it. Maybe I will once this one has arrived 🙂

Since Brian stopped making them, these have become quite sought after. On Reverb, second hand examples often go for more than they originally cost (!!) I’m glad to say that I didn’t pay anything like that for this one.

I don’t need it to give me Fender blackface cleans; I’ve got that covered with the Blackstar Studio 10 6L6 amp. I’m hoping that this’ll give me a nice dirt tone for that amp. I’ll update this once I’ve found out.

Wampler Tweed 57 Drive Pedal

Aaaaand the third of my bucket list pedals this month is another Wampler, and perhaps the rarest of the bunch. Weirdly, though, it doesn’t command the same high prices that the Black 65 does according to Reverb. Reading around, it looks like it’s quite the marmite pedal.

This is a very recent addition to my bucket list. It only got added because of my bitter disappointment with the Mad Professor Little Tweedy Drive. My mate Matt saw my tweets about the Little Tweedy Drive, and told me that the Tweed 57 is perhaps the most accurate pedal for that small Fender amp sound.

I’ll update this once I’ve had a play with it.

Danelectro Billion Dollar Boost Pedal

I was seriously impressed with the Pride of Texas pedal that I got last month. I’ve been keeping an eye out for more pedals from the Billionaire range. Second hand examples are pretty rare, so I was delighted to snag a boost pedal from the lineup for a good price.

First impressions? I like it a lot.

I ran it into the Wampler Tweed 57, and tried it out with my beloved 80’s Charvel super-strat. It took seconds to find a setting that gave me a fatter clean sound that also added back in some top-end. Neck pickup heaven.

I haven’t tried it as a traditional boost into a cranked amp. I’ll make sure I do that test, and then post an update about it.

First Impression: Little Tweedy Drive and The Pride of Texas

This conversation was first posted to my Twitter feed.

Wasn’t expecting them to arrive together like this. Seeing as they have, I’m sorely tempted to compare them head-to-head 🙂

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Let’s set the scene. My go-to tone is something like a Honey Bee or Sweet Honey Overdrive (SHOD for short) into a blackface-sounding clean amp. It’s kind-of a small American amp sound, from the time of chrome and open-top cruising.

I’m hoping that both of these pedals will give me more shades of that same flavour … just like different ‘plexi’-voiced pedals give me choices for the classic British rock tone.

Esp the first pedal – the Little Tweedy Drive by Mad Professor. The name – and their YouTube demos! – say that this should nail that sound.

One important point: I’ve never owned an actual Fender Tweed amp, and I’ve never even played through one. I can’t compare these pedals to the real thing. All I can do is compare them to each other, and to the SHOD or the Honey Bee.

Both the Little Tweedy Drive and the Pride of Texas have the same control layout: volume, gain, bass and treble EQ. Single ‘tone’ EQ controls can be frustrating to work with. So this should be an improvement over the SHOD.

The Little Tweedy Drive

First up – the Little Tweedy Drive, by Mad Professor. First note: it sounds quite similar to the SHOD. I’ll have to A/B them to check that. But there’s an in-your-face difference: the Little Tweedy sounds like a distorting speaker!

Hrm …

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As the gain goes past 12 o’clock, this thing basically turns into a fuzz tone, it’s so overblown. Not what I was after, and something I don’t know how to make good use of.

I’m going to have to take that one away and look into it. I don’t know whether it’s meant to do that, or whether it doesn’t like my amp, or whether it’s just faulty. My guess is that it’s deliberate, that it’s trying to recreate how these small amps act when cranked.

Very quickly, I did A/B it against the SHOD. Even ignoring the distorted speaker sound of the Little Tweedy, they’re quite different. The SHOD is much more mid-focused than the Little Tweedy. The Little Tweedy is a much fuller sound. If only it didn’t distort like that …

The Pride of Texas

Next up, the Danelectro Pride of Texas. This thing looks and feels really good in person. Does the sound live up to the physical experience? No, not for me.

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Unity volume on the pedal is one hair’s width above dead silent. I find that really difficult to work with. Even with the gain cranked, this pedal’s almost clean. This isn’t a drive pedal, it’s a boost, surely?

Let me share the text off the side of the box here.

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This is an SRV-in-a-box thing. Somehow I completely missed that when the pedal first launched. He was a famous TubeScreamer user. So this should actually be a TS-style circuit, just optimised as a crazy boost? That’s novel.

And that’s definitely what I’m hearing. It’s got that ‘where did all the low-end go?’ that happens when you boost an amp with a TS pedal. Okay, let’s try and use it like that. Not a setup I use myself, so don’t hate me if I don’t do it right.

I’ve just grabbed the JRAD Animal, and moved the Pride Of Texas to be a boost into it. A bit like boosting a crunchy Marshall with a TS (I hope). Oh yes, that’s much better! That’s a lot of fun 🙂

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Just for my own ears, let’s A/B it against an actual TubeScreamer. Yeah, I think they’re very similar when used as boosts. Main difference to my cloth ears? The Pride of Texas has more bottom end, thanks to the EQ setup.

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Well, that is a very happy accident. This has a real chance of joining the Klon KTR, Brit Blue, Overzoid od1 and Forest Green in my pantheon of go-to boost pedals.

Concluding Thoughts

So to sum up …

The Little Tweedy Drive doesn’t sound like an SHOD, and does sound like a distorting speaker, and the Pride of Texas is a TS / crazy boost hybrid and not a primary drive pedal at all. Well, at least they both give me something I don’t already have!

They turned out to be utterly different from each other, not just in tone, but also in how to use them. I definitely learned something today. I hope I kept you entertained while I did 🙂

Danelectro ‘84 Lipsticks vs Fender Mexican Strat Single Coils.

Shane’s had a lot of interest in his Danelectro ‘84 since introducing it on his YouTube channel. So he’s done a shootout against his Mexican Strat.

The two guitars sound quite different. The Danelectro has a lot more twang, without sounding like a Tele. It’s also a little thinner sounding, but not in a bad way. The overall result is a guitar which looks like a Strat but has its own thing going on. Very cool.

Watch the video to hear for yourself, and then please head over to YouTube to leave a like and a supportive comment.

Danelectro Cash Cow Distortion Pedal Demo

Rabea Massaad has just posted a demo of the new Danelectro Cash Cow distortion pedal. It’s a paid demo (as many of these kinds of videos are), and thank you to Rabea for making that clear at the very start.

This has a thick, saturated tone to it – the kind that might be very enjoyable to just noodle on at home unaccompanied.

Rabea does say that he thinks it’s one of the darker distortion pedals that he’s played through. I’d love to hear it in a mix, to hear if it can cut through for lead duties, or whether it works best as a rhythm pedal.

Please head over to YouTube to leave a like and a supportive comment if you enjoyed Rabea’s video.

Danelectro Billionaire Pedals Demo

My local shop A-Strings has just posted a quick look at the new Danelectro Billionaire pedals, through a cool-sounding 5w Supro amp.

There’s four pedals in the range: a boost, a drive pedal, a tremolo and a rotary speaker simulator. It’s a good choice: it’s easy to imagine all 4 on the same pedal board, as a complete pedal board.

I love drive pedals, so it’s almost inevitable that I’ll pick up the Pride of Texas pedal to try at some point. That rotary speaker pedal though … that’s the one that’s really caught my eye. I’m wondering how that’ll sound with a semi-acoustic guitar.

A quick shout out to A-Strings too. They’re my local guitar shop, and in my experience they’re the friendliest store in the whole of South Wales. They’ve just started stocking PRS USA Core model instruments. I’m looking forward to their demos of those!

Please head over to YouTube to leave a like and a supportive comment if you enjoyed their video.