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9 of the Best Compact Dumble Style Pedals

Boost and OverdriveDemon PedalsDumble Style OverdriveHermidaJ RockettJRADLovepedalMad Professor EffectsMenatoneMojo Hand FXMXRTanabeWampler+-
2019GPX9BestCompactDumblePedals700-min.jpg

This article is prompted chiefly by my fairly recent acquisition of the Demon Pedals Kondo Shifuku D-Style Overdrive - which brings my tally of Dumble style drives to three - or 7 kind of, depending on how you characterise these things. The very first Dumble Style pedal I acquired was the Mad Professor Simble - which I still love, but substituted eventually with the more versatile Wampler Euphoria. While both those are excellent conveyors of the kind of Dumble tones I was looking for - the Demon Kondo Shifuku is the one that really gets me where I want to be - with the exact tone and timbre I am after - as well as delivering a huge degree of versatility in this compact format. I have already seen some reviews complain about the extensive range of this pedal - which is actually a characteristic I actively pursue in pedals. Some players are more drawn to simpler pedals which really have minimal range and just one core tone which you tune to match your rig / setup. I prefer those that delivery that with a lot more besides - which does mean you typically need to spend a little longer tweaking your dials, but that you almost always get better results if you are prepared to show just a little patience.

 

All of the above pictured pedals have been on my wishlists at one stage, apart from the Zendrive which I find a touch ’thin’ sounding. I totally understand how some players may prefer a slightly more understated and subtle sound - but it’s not really the version of Dumble ODS tone/timbre that fully appeals to me.

 

I’ve come close to buying The Dude, the Extra Special, The Tanabe Zenkudo, Shin-Juku Drive and Dumbstruck at different times before realising my preferred tone with the Demon Kondo Shifuku. I also have the Bearfoot FX Model Hs which covers Dumble territory - as does my Custom Tones Ethos TWE-1, and the BYOC Crown Jewel and Empress Multidrive. I really don’t need any further options here and have drawn my ToneQuest to a close in this area for now. Although if I came across a Dumbstruck at a decent price I would not say no!

 

Note that if you have infinite pedalboard space and plenty of funds you can still go for the satisfyingly enormous Custom Tones Ethos PreAmp, Van Weelden Royal Overdrive or Shin’s Music Dumbloid Twin OD - for the kind of ultimate in Dumble-style pedals, and if space is tight at the other extreme, I’ve always favoured the Mini OneControl Golden Acorn ODS - as listed on my previous Dumble-style Pedals feature.

 

Pedals are listed / pictured alphabetically by price.


Demon Pedals Kondo Shifuku - €279

I got mine eventually from EffektBoutique.de having long since decreed that this was THE Dumble-style pedal best suited for me, based on just a couple of YouTube demos initially - but I could already discern the right degree of the sort of germanium sounding fuzzy timbre which has always been the core tonal characteristic I have been seeking for in my Dumble style pedal/s. I have always described this particular flavour as fuzz-edged overdrive, but other may players prefer different tonalities from the Dumble ODS amp. My Current preferred settings are

  • Drive - 10 o'clock
  • Volume - 2 o'clock
  • Tone - 12 o'clock
  • Accent - 2 o'clock
  • B - Rock - Steel - i.e. all switches in Down position

With the 7 different settings available via the toggle-switches along the typically customary 4 dials - you can achieve an enormous range of tones - from the most delicate and subtle Zendrive variety to the most raucous at the other extreme. There's plenty of everything on tap here, and for me it sounds divine!


J Rockett The Dude - £199

This 4-pot classic which Mick Taylor of That Pedal Show tends to favour was neck and neck with my Mad Professor Simble - right at the start of my Dumble ToneQuest Journey - and based on several head-to-heads I eventually sided with the Simble - although for larger periods it was very much a 50/50 decision - I very slightly preferred the overall tone and timbre of the Simble, and it's slightly keener price helped seal the deal - but I still of course really love The Dude, and in just very slightly different circumstances I could have ended up with that.


Lovepedal Hermida Zendrive - £189

Another 4-pot classic, this time favoured by Phillip McKnight of Know Your Gear fame. For my taste I have always found this particularly D-Style variety a little too subtle, or slightly thin and anodyne really - while there are still scores of pro players who still have a preference for what I believe was the first of the Dumble Style overdrives. Originally made by Hermida, and then by Lovepedal - this is a more understated take on the Dumble, and does not quite have the degree of vibrancy that I like for my own needs - it is nonetheless a worthy contender.


Mad Professor Simble - £149

This was my first Dumble-style pedal and I still love it - and it will probably remain my favourite of the simpler 4-pot only design ones. I initially could not decide between it and The Dude above, and carried out numerous head-to-head tests to discern whose tone I preferred overall. I believe at the time there were 3 things that really swung it - firstly I did seem to feel that the timbre of the Simble was just a bit sweeter to my ears, next its prices was just a touch keener, and lastly it was available and in stock - while The Dude was out of stock with UK suppliers at that time - so the Simble was the first chosen.


Menatone Dumbstruck - $189

I know Brian Mena / Menatone best for his 'Top Boost In a Can'(Vox), 'Red Snapper' / 'Fish Factory' and 'The King' pedals. I must admit I occasionally forget and overlook the also excellent 6-pot Dumbstruck D-style pedal - which has been in the frame a few times, but was inadvertently left out of the last overview. With all of the Dumble-style pedals I already have now, I really don't need another, but if I did spring for one more - it would likely be this one! The control differs slightly from the others here which follow the amp topology and naming more closely while the Dumbstruck in some ways features more logical controls and delivers fantastic range just be slightly different means.


Mojo Hand FX Extra Special DMBL+ - $179

Before the release of the Kondo Shifuku and my recollection of the 'Dumbstruck' above - this pedal was in contention for the next in line to rotate out the Euphoria. It's another great example of this genre which has again the right sort of timbre that appeals to me. I do feel it is somewhat outmuscled by the Kondo Shifuku though, and would probably play second fiddle to the Dumbstruck too overall for my taste - but remains still another worthy contender.


MXR Shin-Juku Drive - £133

A little like the Dumbstruck - this is a pedal I occasionally overlook and just plain forget exists in this space - although I did include it in my previous overview. For those who prefer things a little simpler - we are reduced here to the classic 3 Level/Tone/Gain dials - alongside a Dark push-button voicing switch. This is another pedal that does the job very nicely, although there are others here that I obviously prefer a touch more. For those who are put off by too many dials and switches - this is probably the one for you - it is also the best priced of this selection.


Tanabe Zenkudo - ¥32,000 / $290

This Japanese pedal obviously betrays its inspiration somewhat in its title, but has a more pleasing tonal profile for me versus the more subtle Zendrive above. Occasionally copies of this turn up on Reverb.com, but mostly you need to acquire from Tanabe.tv Japanese site - which may put some players off. For me it's a slightly more dynamic and significantly more versatile alternative to the Zendrive - of course made with primo components. Moreover you have a switch on the side of the pedal the toggles between 3 modes - Marshall, Dumkudo and Dumble.


Wampler Euphoria - £189

I rotated this one in - in preference to the Simble, by virtue of the 3-way voicing switch here which gives you far more versatility in tone. As I've noted several times before - the Bass dial here works similarly to the Presence dial on the Wampler Pantheon - in that you should start it off fully counter-clockwise - or as far left as it will go, and just add in a little low-end to taste - and to the tiniest degree. If you start with the Bass dial at 12 o'clock the pedal sounds horrible in any and all of its modes. The pedal is a touch idiosyncratic in use, but once you get a handle on it - you can dial in a wide variety of really decent Dumble-style tones. In some ways I preferred the one tone I managed to dial in so well on the Simble - but the Euphoria is much more versatile and adaptable. Neither of those gets quite close enough to the lofty heights of my now beloved Kondo Shifuku!


Final Thoughts

All these years later the Dumble ODS amp is still something of a compelling enigma, and encourages healthy debate and contrary opinions. That amp has so much going on inside it, and so many different core tonalities that unless you got he whole hog as say Custom Tones Ethos PreAmps and Van Weelden Royal Overdrive have done - you can only every convey but a small part of the original.

 

What Demon Pedals have achieved in the Kondo Shifuku is therefore something of a marvel as they have managed to totally nail the tonalities that I was after in this compact form factor. Different players will have different preferences, and different pedals may adapt with differing degrees of success to each rig - so what's perfect for me may not necessarily be the same choice you would go for.

 

That said I do feel that these are the 9 very best options at this enclosure size, and that if you contrast and compare these - you will find just the flavour of Dumble facsimile you were looking for. Several / most of these pedals already have significant followings and 'Pro' patronage - so it really is a case of 'pick your own poison'! As I said, I have three of the above choices and I am happy with each of those, as well as 4 further pedals in the collection which significantly overlap and can themselves deliver exceptional Dumble-style tones.

 

Go pick the one you like best!

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Stefan Karlsson
Stefan Karlsson
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