Dynamic Marshall-style distortion meets powerful parametric EQ.
Stone Deaf Effects’ Trashy Blonde Overdrive proves the power of a good parametric EQ. While that statement may provoke a collective “duh” from the studio engineers and bassists who regularly rely on parametric EQ, many guitarists have never experimented with—let alone understood—the effect. Sure, many stompboxes have tone controls, and some allow you to choose the target frequencies. But true parametric EQ also lets you specify the <em>width</em> of the affected band, dialing in anything from a wide swath to a narrow slice. It’s a useful tool for bringing out the liveliest frequencies in a tone or mix, or cutting frequencies that muddy the sound. Combining that degree of tone control with righteous and responsive Marshall-style overdrive circuit makes the Trashy Blonde a powerful and versatile tone shaper.
If King Midas had been a gear hound, he’d have owned a Trashy Blonde. The pedal’s bold gold finish and large enclosure make it hard to miss. Weighty construction and substantial knobs and switches make it feel like a quality product. A side-mounted 9V battery drawer enables quick battery changes.
The Trashy Blonde’s controls may seem unfamiliar at first, thought they’re simple once you get the hang of them. There’s a knob for dialing in frequencies between 20 Hz and 6 kHz, representing the full range of most electric guitars and basses and then some. Meanwhile, a 5-way rotary switch sets the bandwidth. (The narrower the setting, the more intense and focused the result.) The Cut/Boost knob adjusts frequencies by a whooping ±20dB. And the trash control sets the intensity of the pedal’s British-flavored distortion.
There are additional wrinkles: You can bypass the pedal’s overdrive circuit via footswitching, applying EQ to your clean tones. Also, you can connect Stone Deaf’s optional expression pedal for real-time frequency changes—and some seriously wacky-sounding phasing and wah effects. There’s a mix knob to blend the relative amounts of dry and effected signal, because why shouldn’t bassists also be able to get in on the fun? (Guitarists may also find this option useful.)
All That Glitters
Even with the overdrive bypassed, the Trashy Blonde is useful for shaping clean tones. With my trusty Fender Telecaster and Twin Reverb, the Blonde pinpointed frequencies with surgical precision and remained remarkably transparent. It’s easy to mimic a two-amp setup by dialing in a 4 dB upper-mid boost via the bandwidth and freq controls. The contrasting tones were similar to running an old, clean plexi in tandem with the Fender, adding depth to the Twin’s already beautiful tone.
The frequency and bandwidth controls can also mimic different pickups. Playing a Les Paul Custom, I dialed out some low frequencies with a thin bandwidth setting, yielding convincing Strat-like tones for funky rhythm work. Conversely, I made my Telecaster’s bridge pickup mimic a humbucker by setting the freq control to around 10:30 and boosting by five or ten decibels.
Kicking in the distortion mode—colorfully dubbed “Trash”—introduces velvety-rich overdrive that draws inspiration the late ’60s Marshall Super Lead. The Trashy Blonde does a superb job imitating the original’s famous roar, and also responds beautifully to volume knob and pickup selector changes. I was stunned by how naturally the overdrive cleaned up when I rolled down the volumes on my ’78 Greco EG-700. It didn’t just lower the drive—it also removed edginess without thinning the tone.
If you’re into all things high-gain, Trash mode won’t make you ditch your Dual Rectifier. Maxing the gain brings you to about late ’70s Angus Young territory—a tone the pedal does exceptionally well when coupled with low-output humbuckers. It’s easy to get nice, woody British overdrive, though it’s equally easy to unleash truly nasty tones if you’re not careful. I tended to keep the bandwidth control at 6 o’clock or higher in this mode to avoid excessively reedy and nasal-sounding tones, though those tones may be exactly right for adding a lo-fi edge or mimicking the sound of plugging directly into a mixing console, à la the Beatles’ “Revolution.”
Speaking of unique tones, I recommend that anybody considering the Trashy Blonde try it with Stone Deaf’s optional EP-1, one of the most rugged expression pedal’s I’ve seen. Simply plug into the expression pedal jack and set the controllers freq knob to the desired range. I had a blast getting everything from synth-like wah to manually controlled phasing. The Trashy Blonde instantly banished two other pedals from my board.
The Trashy Blonde is almost worth its price for its powerful and flexible EQ section alone. Pairing the EQ with buttery British-flavored overdrive makes the Trashy Blonde feel like more than just a pedal: It’s a dual-channel tone processor. Some might find the three-bills price is a bit hefty, but the Trashy Blonde’s great tone and infinitely useful EQ make a convincing counter-argument.