...for several months now.
Here's something I posted on my favorite guitar forum back in January. Realized I had never posted it here, so figured I'd do that today, along with some of my updated thoughts on it.
Used the last of my Reverb credit over the holidays, and ordered a pedal I had been eyeing since the summer...the Danelectro The Breakdown. It's supposed to be their take on the Univox UD50 only without the treadle part of the pedal. I've had it since the weekend and been playing around with it. Here're my initial thoughts on it.
I really like the 2-knob simplicity of it. Volume and Break-up. Volume is just that, volume. The Break-up is the gain knob except that, rather than being a rheostat kind of knob that smoothly transitions around the dial, it has 6 clickable spots. The first one doesn't do a whole lot to my ear. Settings 2 and 3 I've read would work as the always-on settings. Settings 4-6 can get pretty gnarly.
Jumping back to the Volume knob real quick, one of the things that I like about it is that it doesn't seem to have much affect on the gain. On some pedals I've used, if you want to retain the drive/fuzz when you turn the volume down, you have to turn the gain up. On this pedal, volume is just volume. It doesn't seem to do anything to the gain. So, if you have the right amount of fuzz clicked in at 3 and then turn the pedal down, the volume will drop accordingly, but the gain doesn't change; the fuzz remains.
I really like the 3 and 6 settings. I don't ever see this as being an always-on pedal even on the lower settings. Maybe I would if I was big into garage rock, but it doesn't really fit that bill for blues. I like 3 because it gives that loose, starting to fuzz sound on the low end, but doesn't really do a whole lot on the higher strings. 3 is almost perfect if you're wanting to play some fuzzy power chords. Starts getting pretty fuzzy on the low end, but the highs only get a little crackle. At 5, and especially 6, it gets that full on Hendrix Purple Haze fuzz.
They've been advertising this as an overdrive pedal (they released a fuzz pedal in conjunction with it called the Eisenhower), but to my ear it's more of a fuzz pedal without the octave. I make the distinction because, to my ear, OD is usually pretty tight, and fuzz can get kind of loose and floppy. This one leans much more to the floppy side.
Overall impression so far: I like the simplicity of it. I like that the volume doesn't seem to affect the gain at all; it just makes it louder or quieter. I like that the gain settings are clickable. For instance, I know I like the 3 setting. If the pedal gets changed, I don't have to try to find that perfect spot on the dial anymore. I just click back to 3 and voila. Easy peasy lemon lawn chairs.
Definitely not going to be a pedal for everybody I don't think. I ordered it thinking it would be another OD pedal (since that's how it was advertised), and was pleasantly surprised when I started playing it and thought it sounded more like a fuzz since I've recently been looking to buy another fuzz pedal. To my ear, it can do the Hendrix thing pretty well on 5 and 6. On the higher settings, I could also hear it being used for that garage rock, Detroit Cobras, Black Keys kind of thing.
As always, my ears aren't yours so you may hear something completely different than I do with this pedal. YMM-definitely-V.
After having had it and using it for the last few months, here are my more recent thoughts on it.
I'm still convinced it's closer to a fuzz sound than an overdrive. The lower settings (1-3) are a bit OD-ish, but the higher settings (4-6) get really fuzzy.
I still, very much, like the fact that the volume will affect the volume and not the level of fuzz. I'm not sure that I've got another pedal that does this quite as noticeably. You get the amount of drive/fuzz that you want, and you just tweak the volume button to turn it up or down. No need to adjust the volume knob and then find that perfect level on the gain side again. It's also a very responsive pedal. You dig in, and it digs in. You lay back a bit, and it lays back with you.
I still like the 6-click knob. You can't get anything between the clicks if you want it, but the simplicity of finding the the right amount of fuzziness really appeals to me. There's no wide range from which to choose. 6 options. You either find one that you want or you don't. And you you do so quickly.
Since I'm mostly a bedroom player, I generally run a couple of ODs on my board. I keep a klone of some sort on it as a clean boost kind of pedal that's almost always on, and then a TS of some sort for that extra push to make it stand out during a solo. I had initially envisioned this Danelectro pedal as one that would be a different type of boost pedal to run as an always on kind of thing. The more I play it, this is not that pedal. This is a pedal that has a great sound and would work as a good boost or drive, but isn't one that I'm going to leave on all the time.
As much as I like a couple of the settings on it, it's not a pedal that is going to be on my board and stay there all the time. It definitely has it's place, and is one that, honestly, is still giving me some inspiration and being used regularly, but it's also one that I pull out for a week or so to get a particular fuzziness to my tone, but then goes back on the shelf for a week or two. I think, when I've used it, it's almost exclusively been on either click 3 or click 6.
All in all, I think it's a great pedal. I've enjoyed playing with it enough that I really want to try out Danelectro's new 3699 Fuzz. If that one's as good as The Breakdown, it'll be a great pedal for the cash.
I don't use my pedal board as often as I could these days. Truth is that I often find myself just running straight into the amp I'm using. That means that sometimes I get a pretty clean tone, especially at the house, because you can't really turn up loud enough to get good overdrive on some amps. However, I do use it occasionally. Used it last weekend in fact. Ran my guitar through the board and then straight to my mixer to do some recording.
Now the board itself is pretty small. I saw some of those ads for the Holeyboards that Chemistry Design Werks makes, and really liked them. So, being the cheap dude that I can be sometimes, I headed down to the local Home Depot and picked up a couple of 2'x4'x3/4" boards. The first board I made was about 18"x36". Painted it surf green, and then loaded it down with pedals. That one lasted until the first time I moved it. That's when I realized that it was just too big and unwieldy. That's when I made the next one. Didn't paint it or anything, it's just a piece of raw wood. This second one is about 10"x15" and seems to be about the perfect size for what I need. Like the Holeyboards, I've got it drilled up so that the pedals attach with zip ties. Unlike the Holeyboards, I don't have room for a power supply on it so I use a TrueTone One Spot with it.
I actually had disassembled it for about 6 months, but recently put a board back together for what I wanted. Here's the path. Guitar > TU2 tuner > Wampler Tumnus > TS9 TubeScreamer > GarageTone Axle Grease Delay > Danelectro Big Spender Spinning Speaker > Mooer Acoustikar > whatever amp I happen to be using. Now here's why.
I've got the TU2 tuner for a couple of reasons. First, everyone seems to be using a Snark or some other clip on tuner. I do too. But, when you're playing out, sometimes the clip-on is a bit awkward, and, the tuner, when turned on, will immediately silence the guitar. Who hasn't been in a situation when you wanted to be able to do that for some reason. In my head, between the guitar volume and the pedal, that solves that problem. Plus, it tunes accurately and is bright enough that you can see it in most cases.
From there, signal goes to the the Tumnus. It's pretty much an always-on pedal. I use it as that magical boost. In my head, it just makes whatever amp I'm using sound a bit better as it hits it a little harder and adds a bit of sparkle (how's that for a one of those meaningless guitar player adjectives). Like I said, it's almost always on. At the moment, it's the Tumnus because I'm a huge Chronicles of Narnia fan, but it just as often is my Soul Food. To my ear, using them as just a boost, they do about the same thing.
From there, it's into the Tube Screamer. I use a TS9 just because it was the least expensive Tube Screamer that the store had when I bought. I kind of like the Tube Screamer sound...mid boost and all. I use it to get a little overdrive when I'm not quite getting as much as I want. It doesn't really add a lot of drive. It mostly just pushes the amp a bit more.
From that, it goes to the Axle Grease delay. These were made by Virtual Sound (now Truetone) several years ago. The GarageTone pedals were budget-priced and great pedals for the money. For a simple delay (I have it set for just a touch of slapback), this pedal is the best bang for the buck (imho). I wish they hadn't discontinued this line.
Then to the Danelectro Spinning Speaker. It's supposed to do the Leslie thing. Mrs Snarf got it for me for Christmas, and it's been a ton of fun. It replaced the tremolo pedal I had been using. This is another one of those pedals that, bang for the buck, you just have to try. It's a great little pedal.
From there, to the Mooer Acoustikar. This pedal does a good job of simulating an acoustic. I've got it set on the piezo setting rather than the unplugged acoustic sound just because, in a worship setting especially, you're always plugged in using the piezo. Got this one used off of Reverb, and, for what I paid, it does the job well.
Now there are a whole bunch of other pedals in the closet, but these are the ones that currently make me happy. The others will eventually get rotated out I'm sure. Just not at the moment. Maybe I'll do a more thorough review of the pedals later.
Snarf is a wannabe musician who currently resides in the great state of Texas. His wife is his favorite. If Coca Cola was alcohol, he'd be a raging alcoholic. He dislikes going to the grocery store. And he still misses his dog who was taken by cancer 2 years ago. Check out his Reverb shop and see if he has any gear he's trying to get rid of.