Bought a pedal the other day on a whim. Had seen it come across my Amazon feed a couple of times lately. Guess it's true that if you see something enough times you'll eventually click. Saw that it was $50 or something, but haven't been super impressed by the Nux pedals I've bought in the past, so I figured I would let this one go. Then it popped up on my " you might be interested" feed on Reverb.
I went ahead and clicked on that one. Guy was selling it for $30 + shipping. Shipping was half of what most folks were advertising. Less than most of the others with cheaper shipping. I made the guy my usual offer of the list price minus the price of shipping so that it would come out to his asking price of $30. That's not to say that the price wasn't fair already. He countered, and we met half way. Not a bad deal for either of us. It actually surprised me that he accepted because the pedal had only been posted a few hours.
It came in a day earlier than I was expecting, so I've gotten to play around with it for a couple of days now. Here are my initial thoughts and impressions.
I haven't researched this pedal more than a cursory google (to find prices more than anything). I believe that it's supposed to be an amp in a box along the lines of the Dumble Steel String Singer. I'm not positive of that, but I think it's right. If that is correct, then it's an amp in a box of a very expensive amp that is the stuff of legends.
I had a Vertex Steel String Clean Drive back a few years ago. I think I bought it in 2017. I never meshed with that pedal. I'm not sure if it was supposed to be a similar amp in a box or not. I just know I had other drive pedals that I liked better. So in the great gear purge of 2020, it went the way of the gear that left the casa. That pedal and this one have a similar look, but I don't know if they are the copies of the same thing so any comparisons between them may be unfair. I'll just say that, since they look so similar, my mind immediately went to the Vertex that I used to have and didn't really like, so my expectations were really low.
Pulled it out of the box, plugged a battery in, and started playing with it. In fairness, it has been exclusively through my Gibson ES-339 into my Spark amp's Dumble Over Drive Special model. That's the amp model I always use with that amp, so it's the one I used. Admittedly, I have not tried it through my Blackheart amps or using single coils yet. So this isn't an exhaustive review by any stretch.
Stuck all the knobs on the pedal at noon and the 339 on the neck pickup, hit a chord, and it sounded truly awful. It was so dark that it was bordering on being just muddy. That's a probably I've never had with the Gibson before. Checked the guitar to be sure that the tone wasn't still on 2 (where I've been using it on some jazz-ish stuff) and then cranked the tone (Filter) knob on the pedal all the way to the right. It lost the mud, but it was still dark enough that it's not something I would use. Fiddled around with the Vol and Gain knobs, and it didn't help. Well ok. My thought then was that I'd probably just turn around and sell it. Got a good price on it, so I should at least break even on it.
Switched to the middle position on the 339 and hit a chord. You know what, it doesn't sound half bad there. That bridge pickup pulls in enough high end that it balances the darkness on the neck pickup. Dialed the treble back on that Filter knob, played with the Vol and Gain some more, and it's not actually sounding too bad.
So I switched to the bridge pickup. Dialed the Vol to about 2 o'clock and the Gain back to about 9 or 10 o'clock and set the Filter on about 11 o'clock. Dude!! This pedal is sounding super good now. I sat and ran through jam track after jam track for about an hour just playing along with those settings, and was totally digging it!
So now I'm kind torn. My initial first impression what that I was going to flip it pretty quickly. It doesn't really work on the neck. But it sounds so good on the bridge that the thought actually crossed my mind that I should put it on my board to use for some lead tones. It also makes me really wonder what it's going to sound like with single coils. Since they're usually a little treblier than humbuckers (at least mine always seem to be), it makes me think it's going to be really good for those. I need to pull a Strat or Tele out of the closet to try them out with it.
So what's my verdict? I'm honestly not sure. I think in the right setting with the right guitar and amp it's going to sound really nice. However, from my experience with the neck pickup, if you don't have the right gear, it's going to sound pretty crappy. For the moment, I play that 339 almost exclusively. I'm not sure I want a pedal on the board that will only work on the bridge pickup, but it sounds so good there, I might give it a test run anyways.
Regardless, it sounds good enough on that bridge that I think I'm going to hang onto it for a while. I've got some recording ideas brewing where I think it might come in handy for some lead tones. After all, at $32 shipped, it's not like it's going to keep me from buying the next piece of gear if I keep it.
Does it sound like a Dumble? No idea. I don't have a Dumble that I can use to A/B it. On the bridge pickup of my 339 into an amp model of a Dumble ODS does it sound good? Absolutely with no question. Should you buy one? At $50 new, if you're curious and the money's burning a hole in your pocket, you can always get most of your money back if you don't like it. If you can catch a deal on one used on Reverb, it might be worth an afternoon's entertainment and you might actually like it.
Now I'm off to pull a Tele out of the closet and see how it sounds through that.
Snarf is a wannabe musician who currently resides in the great state of Texas. His wife is his favorite. He believes chocolate milk made from milk that is anything less than whole milk is basically water and deserves to be dumped down the sink so nobody has to suffer through it. He hates having to shop for clothes. But he has a thing for really cool bags, and, consequently, has more gig bags than guitars and a closet full of messenger bags and backpacks. He still misses his dog who was taken by cancer years ago. Check out his Reverb shop and see if he has any gear he's trying to get rid of.