Danelectro Cool Cat pedals offer tone on a budget. We look at the Fuzz, Transparent Overdrive and Vibe.
Danelectro has always been something of a cult favorite among musicians, a company responsible for dreaming up loads of good sounding, inexpensive gear with a distinct fifties flair. Musicians not afraid to step outside of the rarified boutique world have discovered a range of cool, usable tones from boxes named after diner dishes like French Toast and Chicken Salad. For the rest, the combination of cute model names and an abundance of cheap plastic parts left the impression of Danelectro as a strictly budget-minded product. Fortunately for fans of the company’s distinctive style, the latest line of miniaturized effects pedals, dubbed the Cool Cat series, have set out to redefine that image – without raising the price tag. Perhaps one of the most exciting things about the Cool Cat series is the physical upgrade. Danelectro has stepped up to the plate with new, heavy duty metal cases and jacks, and I’m proud to say their effects have never felt sturdier. Every pedal is true bypass, and a quick look inside confirms it – even the guts look well planned and executed, something that cannot be said for all price point effects. The footswitch, while not a Switchcraft, feels solid and clicks with the same tactile satisfaction as one. The only physical point of worry I would have would be the battery compartment, located on the underside of the pedal. The battery latch seems to be made of a fairly flexible plastic that might not survive the long haul, but considering it exists in its own world underneath the rest of the pedal, it shouldn’t be too big of a concern (if you’re truly paranoid, you could always just plug in a 9V adapter). Unfortunately, there remain a few design decisions that don’t seem completely thought through. The knobs sit on the front face of the pedal, with their descriptions printed on top of the box; if you imagine the knobs on Roger Mayer’s famous rocket enclosures, you’ll have the right idea. And while this isn’t necessarily a bad thing in its own right, the knobs are partially covered by what can only be described as a little ledge extending off the top of the enclosure. While this is likely in place to prevent accidentally tweaking the settings, it inadvertently makes purposely turning the knobs more of a hassle than it ever should be. It’s near impossible to set your knobs precisely unless you’re looking directly at the front face, and forget about trying to make adjustments with your foot. A handful of the pedals including the transparent overdrive and the chorus also include stacked knobs, making the task even harder; the manual acknowledges adjusting these can be “tricky,” but that seems akin to saying that a Dumble sounds “good.”
|Download Example 1|
Fuzz at 3:00, Volume at 1:00, Tone at noon
All clips recorded with Tele Deluxe with SD Fat Cat humbuckers and Volume and Tone knobs on full. Recorded with a modified Epiphone Valve Junior Stack (Volume set at 5) featuring an Eminence Red Coat 12”, through a Shure SM57 and into a ProSonus Audiobox interface. Guitar by Randall Davis.
My adventure with the entire Cool Cat series actually began with the Fuzz and a recommendation. In the midst of a brief but deep vintage fuzz phase, I found myself jonsing for the buzz saw intensity of a Foxx Tone Machine, albeit at a little more reasonable price. PG’s own Dirk Wacker recommended the Cool Cat Fuzz, and my search ended almost as soon as it began. As soon as I plugged in the Cool Cat Fuzz and cranked everything to 11 (including the Volume, Tone and Fuzz controls crossing the front face of the unit), I heard that same psychedelic grind, that electric wire, hive of bees sound that I heard in vintage and reissue units, all for a fraction of the price. Now, I should clarify before I receive a mailbox full of angry letters from boutique purists that the Cool Cat Fuzz is not the same as a Foxx, even if they do both conjure animals in their names. The Cool Cat isn’t powered by germanium, nor does it feature any sort of Octave/Sustain switch, like its ancestor the French Toast did. But the Cool Cat Fuzz does have a lot of power hidden underneath its unassuming orange metal housing. There’s more than enough gain on tap for psychedelic fuzzheads and the Tone knob is versatile enough to move from dark, woolly sounds to cool transistor radio tones. Ratchet up the gain, turn the Tone back and you’ll even find yourself in Big Muff territory, even if it’s not an exact impression. Needless to say, at its craziest and loudest, there’s enough sustain to play a note and check back on it days later. Of course, as a relatively inexpensive, germanium-less fuzz, something’s gotta give, and that shows up in some of the softer moments. Turning the Volume on the Fuzz down resulted in sounds that were muddy, and some of the pedal’s great touch sensitivity gets lost, too. But considering that the pedal doesn’t add a lot of noise to the signal, and that it actually cleans up nicely with the help of your guitar’s Volume, you’re still getting a lot of bang for the buck – a big hats off to Danelectro for doing their homework. The Cool Cat Fuzz is literally a no-brainer if you have even a passing interest in fuzz.
you have $39 dollars
you’re only looking to use your fuzz at wimpy levels
MSRP $39 -Danelectro- danelectro.com
Hit Page 2 for the Cool Cat Transparent Overdrive...
|Download Example 1|
Gain at 1:00, Volume at 12:30, Bass on 1:00, Treble at noon
Cool Cat Transparent Overdrive
Fresh off the high of the Cool Cat Fuzz, I plugged in Danelectro’s Transparent Overdrive for a little more traditional crunch. I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical about the company’s decision to include the word “transparent” in the name of the effect – it has become such an lazy buzzword that I cringe hearing it these days – but thankfully it seems that Danelectro has some tone to back up that name. The Cool Cat Transparent OD is surprisingly clean and clear for such an inexpensive design; in lower to medium gain situations, the pedal retained my guitars’ fundamental (a Telecaster and LP) without smothering my tone or noticeably compressing the signal. At higher gain levels, the sound squishes more and the signal loses some of that original clarity, but at all points you can tell the Transparent OD is doing its best job at adding gain and little else. If you’re not particularly concerned about coloration or compression you’ll be wowed by the sheer amount of crunch on tap – try out the “Woman Tone” setting in the manual if you have a sturdy amp and a stout disposition. The Treble and Bass knobs – set up in that infernal “stacked” configuration – give you some minor tone shaping options (cut and boost), but this pedal really excels at taking your existing signal/tone and beefing it up. Of course, if you were to put this box up against a high-end boutique OD, the Danelectro probably wouldn’t be the smoothest or most invisible of effects, but that’s missing the point entirely. This pedal provides a lot of gain and a lot of clarity for very little. The fact that it can function effectively in a variety of roles, from a barely-there boost for lead lines to a bludgeon for the front end of your amp, is even more impressive. If you’re looking at overdrives twice or even three times the cost of the Cool Cat Transparent OD, make sure to give this one a try – you just might save some serious cash.
you want a great sounding OD at a fraction of the price
your fingers can’t handle the stacked knobs
MSRP $49 - Danelectro - danelectro.com
Hit Page 3 for the Cool Cat Vibe...
|Download Example 1|
Intensity at noon, Speed at 11:00, Mix at 11:00.
Cool Cat Vibe
It was obvious that Danelectro could do dirt, but I wondered if they could do modulation. I played around with some of the other entries in the Cool Cat series, but was left a little wanting with items like the Chorus and the Trem (both respectable as value picks, but nothing that would wow experienced players). Then I stumbled across the Cool Cat Vibe, which surprised me with a versatile range and a mess of tasty sounds. I should note before going any further for players looking for a Univibe sound – or the uniquely off-kilter Univibe impression done by the superb Danelectro Chicken Salad – that this probably isn’t going to fit the bill. The Cool Cat Vibe is more of a vibrato, with the manual calling it akin to “a prehistoric chorus that has emerged from a swamp.” Take that as you will. Featuring Mix, Speed and Intensity knobs across the top, the Cool Cat makes it simple to dial in a number of really smooth vibe sounds, from deep, organic swooshes to fast rotating speaker sounds. There were even some pseudo-chorus sounds to be found with the right settings. If you’re a true tweaker, or just like really overdone effects, there is also a trimpot located inside the unit which controls the overall intensity (although it should be said that in the stock position the Intensity knob has more than enough range) although this isn’t advertised by the company in the manual. Sonically, the Cool Cat Vibe sounds great, and could hang with vibe boxes twice the price. There’s a little bit of a high-end roll off, which helps keep everything smooth and fluid, along with a slight volume boost. The volume boost is perhaps one of the more controversial design decisions here, and it’ll either escape your perception or drive you absolutely nuts. If your rig if carefully calibrated from beginning to end, this pedal may be disqualified immediately by adding in saturation; likewise, players with hot pickups or a heavy hand will be able to make the Vibe breakup. That said, if you’re playing a grungy Hendrix cover, it only adds to the pedal’s aura. Regardless, a simple Volume control could have been a nice addition to enable players to control the level, and resulting tone, themselves. .
you’ve been looking for a solid, organic vibe on the cheap
you can’t deal with the slight signal boost
MSRP $69 - Danelectro- danelectro.com
The Final Mojo
In the end, the Cool Cat series from Danelectro is a solid collection of effects available for a fraction of the price of the boutique stuff. And while these mass produced pedals may not have all of the nuances or responsiveness of high-end effects, they certainly do one hell of a job. Add in the fact that they’ve been well updated with solid metal cases, sturdy footswitches and jacks and true bypass wiring, and you cannot go wrong. Even if you pick one up and don’t dig it, you can always give it away as a holiday gift. And isn’t that truly gearhead peace of mind?
Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses.
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the release of the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses. The new Relentless P and Relentless J series pickups feature the Relentless cover designed in collaboration with Billy Sheehan.
As with the Relentless pickups, we removed all the hard edges from the standard P Bass and standard J Basspickups, and added an arch to the top of the pickups to bring the sensing coils and pole pieces closer to the strings. These improvements increase the dynamic range and make active circuitry unnecessary.
The Relentless P and Relentless J pickups incorporate Neodymium magnets and produce 70 percent more output than traditional passive pickups, and they’re dead quiet due to the incorporation of metal covers and foil-shielded cables. To dial in (or fine-tune) the individual string output, the Relentless P and Relentless J include eight adjustable pole pieces. These pickups also have a broad magnetic field so you can even bend notes without volume dropout.
DiMarzio’s extra shielding makes the Relentless P and Relentless J better for both recording and stage performances. We’ve mounted them onto robust .09375” thick circuit board base plates to eliminate the annoying protruding mounting screws — ultimately creating a more comfortable and consistent foundation to rest your fingers on.
The new Relentless P steps beyond the traditional P-Bass sound and can only be described as massive. It has more of everything: more volume, beefier lows, a growling midrange, and crispy highs with better individual string definition.
The Relentless J incorporates a new invention, (patent pending) parallelogram-shaped coils, offering an expanded mid-range punch, snappy highs, precise lows, and a new dimension to the sound of the Relentless series pickups.
Relentless P and Relentless J pickups will breathe new life into any bass, increase playability, and work well for any style of music from Motown to metal.
DiMarzio’s Relentless P, Relentless J Bridge, Relentless J Neck, and Relentless J pair are made in the U.S.A. and may now be ordered for immediate delivery.
Suggested List Price for the Relentless P is $169.00 (MAP $119.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Bridge and Relentless J neck is $155.00 (MAP $109.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Pair is $296.00 (MAP 209.99).
For more information, please visit our website at dimarzio.com.
Mystery Stocking is coming soon! Sign up for PG Perks below so you don't miss it.
Sign up for PG Perks on the form below to make sure you don't miss the launch announcement!
About Mystery Stocking
Each year, Premier Guitar likes to put out these mystery boxes as a part of bringing some fun to the holiday season. Remember, this is supposed to be a fun holiday treat! If the contents of this box will ruin your holiday, deplete the last of your bank account, or end your ability to see the good in humanity, it may not be for you.
- This year's Mystery Stocking will cost $44.95. ($39.95 + $5 Flat shipping)
- Each box will be guaranteed to contain $40 or more in value.
- US only. (Sorry World.)
- Make sure your shipping address is correct.
- Have your credit card ready to go before you refresh the page. Paypal is not available. Autofill may not fill in your information.
- There will be NO REFUNDS given.
- There has been a huge demand for these in the past. We really did sell out in less than 4 minutes last year. When they are gone, they are gone.
- One per household, one per person.
Q: What's in the Mystery Stocking?
A: It wouldn't be much of a surprise if we told you, now would it?
Q: Will I definitely get my money worth?
Q: Can I return it if I don't like it?
A: Nope. All sales final.
Q: What if I live outside the US?
A: Sorry, US only.
Q. How much is it?
A. $39.95 Plus $5 shipping
Q. When will it ship?
A. On or before December 10, 2022.
Q. What form of payment do you accept?
A. Credit cards only. Sorry, no Paypal for this.
Q. Can I ship to a different location than my billing address?
Q. I tried last year and didn't get one. Will I get one this year?
A. There is an overwhelming demand for Mystery Stocking. Be sure you have a fast internet connection and be ready when they go on sale. Last year we sold out in 3 min 33 seconds.
Q. I want to buy 5. How can I buy 5?
A. You can't. This year, we're limiting to one per household, so more people can get in on the fun!
Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
Origin Effects introduce the new M-EQ DRIVER mid booster & drive pedal. Based on a vintage Pultec studio EQ, this unique pedal offers a range of mid-focused tones, from a subtle mid boost to thick, resonant overdrive. Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
A choice of three mid-range frequencies ensures that you can boost just the right part of your guitar signal and, when pushed harder, can elicit a range of saturation from a classic “mid-hump” overdrive to fierce “cocked wah” distortion. Thanks to the Adaptive Circuitry, the high-end roll-off of the Cut control is reduced as the pedal cleans up. This allows for a smooth transition from warm overdrive to bright clean tones in response to playing dynamics or guitar volume knob changes.
Introducing... M-EQ DRIVER || Mid Booster & Drive
Built-in the UK to the highest standards, the M-EQ DRIVER continues the Origin Effects tradition of vintage, studio-inspired tones in modern guitar pedals. The Origin Effects M-EQ DRIVER is available now from Origin Effects dealers worldwide.
RRP: 259 GBP (Inc VAT) / 319 USD (Ex TAX)
For more information, please visit origineffects.com.