The Dumkudo overdrive by Toshihiko Tanabe is one of those seemingly living, breathing pieces of musical gear that will talk back to you, point you down a different path, and holler encouragement.
|Download Example 1|
|Download Example 2|
|All clips recorded with a Fano JM6 with P-90s (volume at 8) through a silverface Fender Champ; Pedal settings: Gain at noon, Volume at noon, Tone at 2 o'clock, Jali at 2 o'clock|
The multi-voiced Dumkudo overdrive is not Toshihiko Tanabe’s first stab at an overdrive. His Zenkudo impressed a lot of blues-rock players with its sweet, controlled overdrive flavors. The Dumkudo shares the Zenkudo’s cultivated voice in some measure. But it also has a lot more sass and swagger. And it’s bound to appeal to everyone from blues and roots-rock players that like a little more horsepower under the hood to jazzers willing to dabble with more impolite tones.
Dressed up for Saturday Night
The Dumkudo is what a good Anglo rocker might call a “flash geezer.” The polished aluminum case and faux-abalone-and-kanji-festooned faceplate stick out amid a pedal array like a sharp-dressed gangster in the corner booth of a crowded club. And when you kick the pedal on, the LED—which switches between red, blue, and green depending on what voice you select— can seem virtually blinding next to your average dull, red pedal light.
The pedal’s four knobs sometimes seem a little cramped on the MXR-sized, 1590 enclosure. But they are easy and intuitive to use once you’ve tinkered with the pedal for a few minutes. The top two knobs are for Gain and Volume. The two sound-shaping controls—Tone and the curiously name Jali knob—are positioned just below.
On the side, a small, unlabeled slider-switch selects one of the pedal’s three voices: a pretty hot “red” mode, a more mellow and rounded “blue” mode (an approximation of the Zenkudo voice), and another hot “green” circuit that gives the pedal its more Dumble-like characteristics.
The pedal’s guts are a fairly cramped affair— no surprise given the four very wide-ranging controls and the switchable voices. I nearly gave myself a headache contemplating Tanabe performing the surgery that must go into constructing the Dumkudo. But for how busy it looks on the inside, it’s clearly built to last. Critical controls like the switchwork and certain connections on the circuit board are sheathed in a rather grotesque looking protective goo that ensures that this pedal remains intact, reliable, and road-ready over the long haul. It’s hard to imagine anyone other than Tanabe working on the Dumkudo if a problem were to arise. But you also get the feeling this pedal could outlive your grandchildren.
Personality and Transparency
The buzz about the Dumkudo is the Dumble-like tones that apparently lurk with in the pedal (we’re guessing the first three letters in its name aren’t there by coincidence, though Tanabe claims this pedal is not intended to be a Dumble emulator). But playing through a range of clean Fender amps, the Dumkudo kicked out a lot of tones that were just as reminiscent of a cranked AC30, a JBL-equipped Showman or Twin, or a bucking 50-watt Marshall.
I explored the Dumkudo’s many voices using a Fender Stratocaster with a Seymour Duncan mini-humbucker in the bridge, a ’70s Ibanez-built Les Paul Standard copy, and a Fender Jaguar running through a blackface Fender Tremolux, a ’68 Vibro Champ and an Ampeg Super Jet.
The first thing that became apparent is that the Dumkudo does not discriminate—humbucker or single-coil, hot or low output pickups, you can find a setting just by manipulating the Gain and Volume knobs that will put some dynamite in your signal without robbing the guitar or amp of too much character.
The mini-humbucker on the Strat and Gibson-styled humbuckers on the Les Paul copy both became exceptionally lively with the Gain and Volume set flat—lending a discernable pick sensitivity that really beckons you to toy with the dynamic potential of pick attack and manipulation of a guitar’s volume and tone knob. Diming the Volume and Gain controls in the Red and Green modes made the humbucker-equipped guitars sound positively explosive without making a Devil’s trade for detail. Such settings didn’t leave much room for slop, however. If, like me, you’re a player who uses a lot of slurring bends, pick sweeps, and jabs for your most expressive playing, this pedal can be a little like the horror of gazing at your complexion in a super-magnifying mirror. If, on the other hand, you have the chops to venture where John McLaughlin dared to fly on his Mahavishnu jams, this might be the pedal of your dreams.
The humbuckers also responded well to the Dumkudo’s very versatile tone manipulation circuit. Getting a little aggressive with the Tone control (which seems to roll off bass as much as it boosts treble) and the Jali control (which functions like a presence knob) had the Strat’s mini-humbucker sweetly squealing in a manner that cried out for an open-G slide workout. At the same settings, the Les Paul copy took on a distinctly Beano-era Bluesbreakers identity when running through the Tremolux and Super Jet.
The Jaguar’s basically snarky, mid-scooped voice also meshed beautifully with the Dumkudo’s higher-gain and treblier settings—particularly in the Green and Red modes. The Blue mode worked quite nicely for adding a little grit to basically clean arpeggios and low-key, Gilmour-y lazy blues leads. In the Green and Red modes, however, careful-but-aggressive use of the Gain knob led the way to some very sweet spots where the Jag, Tremolux, and Super Jet sat right at the brink of feedback—a really fun place to be if you’re inclined to tinker with amp proximity, finger vibrato, and assertive tremolo techniques. And at times, I could get the short-scale Fender quaking and cutting like a smoother incarnation of Jorma Kaukonen slicing eardrums at the Fillmore, circa 1968.
The Dumkudo can just as easily coax you down the path to mellower overdrive without leading you into the realm of generic blooze tones. Again, it walks the fine line between keeping your guitar and amp’s personality intact and adding a touch of skunky roadhouse swagger and attitude. And working with this pedal at lower-gain settings can lure you into an attentive space that keeps you focused on melody and nuance. One note can sound just that interesting.
Toshihiko Tanabe has accomplished an admirable feat in the Dumkudo by taking the well-trodden territory of Dumble-styled, cooking blues-rock tone, and building in the capacity for wider expression, character, and responsiveness. There’s just something a little more alive in the Dumkudo than in your average blues-rock overdrive—an organic property that makes it feel a little more like a part of your amp and guitar. At 310 bones direct from the builder, it’s not cheap. But given that the Dumkudo has the range, build, and character to replace 300 bucks worth of less satisfying ODs you may have sitting around the jam space, you can safely consider it money well spent.
you crave aggressive, dirty blues-rock tones, but need a little more personality and range.
you get everything you need out of your TS9 or Blues Driver.
Street $310 - Toshihiko Tanabe - www.tanabe.tv/top/kudou/index-e.html
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Created in collaboration with legendary guitarist George Lynch of Dokken and Lynch Mob fame, the Mr.Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage and an onboard Deep control, which together are designed to enable an amp to have increased sustain while still retaining note definition and dynamics.
LegendaryTones, LLC today announced production availability of its new Mr. Scary Mod, a 100% pure tube module designed to instantly and easily expand the capabilities of many classic amplifiers with additional gain and tone shaping. Created in collaboration with legendary guitarist George Lynch of Dokken and Lynch Mob fame, the Mr.Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage and an onboard Deep control, which together are designed to enable an amp to have increased sustain while still retaining note definition and dynamics.
Originally released as the Lynch Mod in February 2021, the updated Mr. Scary Mod features the same core circuit as the Lynch Mod but is now equipped with a revised tube mix combo per George’s preference as well as a facelift in a newly redesigned electro-galvanized steel enclosure. As with the Lynch Mod, each run will be limited and the first run in Pumpkin Orange with Black hardware is limited to just 150 pieces worldwide.
The Mr. Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage on top of the cathode follower position, keeping note definition and articulation while further increasing sustain. Each Mr. Scary mod is meticulously built by hand in the USA, one at a time, and tuned using high-grade components. Equipped with a single ECC81 (12AT7) in the first position and ECC83 (12AX7) in the second, the Mr. Scary Mod can clean up beautifully when rolling down your guitar’s volume, and still adds scorching gain when you roll it back up. This is a gain stage that’s been tuned and approved by the ears of the maestro George Lynch himself.
“The Mr. Scary Mod excels with dynamics and is incredibly touch-responsive, allowing me to shift from playing clear, lightly compressed cleans to full-out aggressive sustain and distortion –and control it all simply by varying my guitar’s volume control and picking,” said GeorgeLynch. “In many ways, it’s an old-school approach, but it’s also so much more natural and expressive in addition to being musically fulfilling when you can play both the guitar and amp dynamically together this way.”
The Mr. Scary Mod installs in minutes, is safe and effective to use, and requires no special tools or re-biasing of the amplifier. Simply insert the module into the cathode follower preamp position of compatible amplifiers (includes Marshall 2203/2204/1959/1987 circuits) and
immediately get the benefit of enjoying a hot-rodded amp that delivers all the pure harmonic character that comes with an added pure tube gain stage. The handmade in the USA Mr. Scary Mod is now available to order for $319.
For more information, please visit legendarytones.com.
October Audio has miniaturized their NVMBR Gain pedal to create two mini versions of this beautifully organic-sounding circuit – including an always-on gain device.
The NVMBR Gain is a nonlinear amp that transitions gracefully from clean boost to overdriven tones. Volume increases from just over unity to about 10db before soft-clipping drive appears for another 5db of boost. Its extraordinary ease of use is matched by outstanding versatility: you can use it as a clean boost, push a stubborn amp into overdrive or create a just-breaking-up sound at any amp volume.
October Audio’s new family of mini NVMBR Gain pedals includes a switchable version that allows you to bypass the effect: one option features brand logo pedal graphics, while the other sports a fun “Witch Finger” graphic with a Davies knob as the“fingernail”.
The second version in the new lineup is an always-on device featuring the Witch Finger graphic and Davies knob, with the same NVMBR Gain circuit that lies at the core of the switchable version.
- Knob controls gain and clipping simultaneously
- Stunning silver hammertone finish
- Switchable versions are true-bypass, available with classic or witch finger graphics
- Authentic Davies knobs, including the “fingernail”
- 9V center negative power supply required
- Dimensions: 3.63 x 1.50 x 1.88 in
Witch Finger (always on NVMBR Gain) demo
All October Audio pedals are assembled in Richmond, VA, and available for purchase directly through the online shop. Street price is $109 for NVMBR Gain footswitch versions and $89 for the always-on device.
For more information, please visit octoberaudio.com.