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9 of the Best DOD Electronics Pedals

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2021GPXBestOfDOD700V2.jpg

DigiTech’s latter sister brand DOD has delivered a number of pedal greats over the years, and since its foundation in 1973 by David Oreste Di Francesco. A lot of people focus on the early editions / 200 Series - while I’ve taken a slightly broader overview here - with the one concession really being the original 250 Overdrive/Preamp. Elsewhere I’ve gone for pretty much the latest viable editions - including the Blue reissue of the 201 Phasor - which also had Grey and Yellow predecessors.

 

Probably DOD’s most celebrated pedal - the 250 is most desirable in 741 chip edition - which funnily straddles both grey and early yellow edition boxes. It’s one of numerous 200 series pedals that were later reissued - a little bit like Boss’s Series 2 pedals - which have tended to overshadow later editions. DOD’s original pedals were 200 Series, then these were updated and expanded for the 400 Series, and finally 600 series.

 

A number of the later editions of DOD were collaborations - like the Boneshaker Distortion with Black Arts Toneworks’ Mark Wentz, and the Looking Glass Overdrive with Shoe Pedals’ CJM Venter.

 

Brand Owner Harman seems to have knocked back operations of late and there are relatively few of these in distribution - especially in the UK. While 6 varieties are still available for sale on the Harman DigiTech website - the Carcosa Fuzz, Gunslinger Distortion, Looking Glass Overdrive, Mini Expression, Mini Volume, and Rubberneck Analog Delay.

 

I’ve recently come into the possession of the Gunslinger and Looking Glass, partly driven by current scarcity and possible discontinuation - so I now own 4 of those listed, including also the Boneshaker and Carcosa.

 

The Meatbox had been riding high on my wishlist on occasion, but that has now really been supplanted by the Way Huge Atreides. Most likely next acquisition is probably a 741 Yellow Box 250 - if I can find one in good condition - and at the right sort of price!

 

Pedals listed alphabetically by name / association :


250 Overdrive Preamp - discontinued - as much as £400-£500 equivalent or more for pristine grey box examples

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The interesting point here is that while all of the original 70's grey editions contain the typically more desirable 741 chip, a lot of the early 80's Yellow versions had that same chip too - with the 351 chip though gradually taking over later on. So you have the Grey 70's editions as the most sough-after, then the early 80's Yellow editions, and finally the 90's Yellow reissues. All are discontinued now - while some Reverbers are wrongly calling the late 90's versions vintage now - which I would dispute. (Vintage > 40 years).

 

Latter versions seem to be calibrated somewhat differently with slightly different core EQ, and compression. For me the differences are rather subtle - but I prefer the slightly more articulate Grey Box editions overall including that somewhat more open-pored texture - while many favour the first Yellow versions. Each to their own really!

 

Pricing obviously pays a big part here - with the Grey box versions fetching ridiculous prices nowadays, while a decent Yellow box 741 can be snagged for as little as £150-£200 - a comparative bargain.

 

I've still to snag one of these, while I have 3 amazing alternatives by way of the more extended-range Loophole Pedals Grey Matter, Pelican Noiseworks 50/50, and VFE Distortion 3. In fact I've not yet decided whether I have to have one of the authentic 250 ones - while the smart money is obviously on an early 80's edition.


Boneshaker Distortion - discontinued - $229 when new

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This slightly fuzz-edged BAT Mark Wentz collaboration has often been disparaged in much the same way as the Boss Metal Zone attracts unwarranted criticism. In both cases this is mostly down to user issues - where certain individuals just don't have the wherewithal or patience to approach these pedals in the correct manner.

 

Both have dual-concentric pots - the Metal Zone has 2, for overall 6 different parameter controls - including Parametric Mids, while the Boneshaker has 3 dual-concentric knobs - for Parametric EQ across all 3 Frequency Bands, also with a Depth control - for a total of 9 parameter controls.

 

There is incredible range to be found here - as long as you have the patience to dial those knobs in diligently. Of course with that much range, you can also get all kinds of odd tones too - which tends to be the focus of the detractors.

 

For me this is all-in-all a really solid extended-range Distortion with near unlimited tonal possibilities. I still really like this pedal, while others have been somewhat unkind towards it. I always say try it out yourself and see where you get to. If you're not prepared to spend time with this to find the various sweet-spots - then this is not the pedal for you!


Carcosa Silicon Transistor Fuzz - $110

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I've featured this great Tom Cram Silicon Fuzz on this site several times now as a fantastic cost-effective everyday fuzz. It really does deliver a lot of variety via those 5 slightly oddly named controls. You just need to know that Before, Output, After, Hi-Cut and Demme/Hali render as - Fuzz/Saturation, Level, Bias, Treble-Refine, and Low Frequency Boost/Cut.

 

Where the tone-generation engine is no less than 5 2N5089 Transistors - which obviously deliver significant gain and texture when cranked. Even though the controls are oddly labelled I still think this makes a fantastic first fuzz as it genuinely delivers a really broad spectrum of fuzz tones - and can be as subtle or heavy as you like.


Gonkulator Ring Modulator - discontinued - $229 when new

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Obviously an acquired taste for some - this is nonetheless one of The classic Ring Modulator formats and actually only fairly recently reissued for the last time - before its eventual discontinuation.

 

Those 5 controls are the secret sauce really - where you can control every major aspect of the ring modulation - Gain, Distortion, Output, Frequency and Ring. This means you can make the effect sound as full-on or subtle as you like. Those that really don't typically like Ring Modulation can typically find several creative ways to deploy this pedal.

 

I have yet to own a single stand-alone ring-modulator - and if I do eventually succumb and go get one - then it's likely to be either this or Subdecay's Vitruvian Mod.


Gunslinger Mosfet Distortion Pedal - $100

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While not a Mostortion clone as such this can be very much viewed as a sort of 2-Band Baxandall EQ version of the same. This has that same lovely Mosfet grit - which stays articulate right through the higher gain and max-EQ levels.

 

This was highly positively reviewed on introduction, but sort of faded from consciousness pretty fast. It is nonetheless a highly appealing mid-gain overdrive/distortion with really wonderful breakup texture.


Looking Glass Class-A FET Overdrive - $175

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Another great collaboration - this time with CJM Venter of Shoe Pedals fame. Note also that the lower left knob is dual-concentric - with controls for both Treble and Bass Cut. And we have the fairly unusual 5th Input Filter Control which acts as a sort of bias. Importantly we also have a High/Low gain structure switch - which delivers beautiful glassy and transparent tones in Low mode, and more brawny textures and harmonics in High mode. All-in-all a really versatile overdrive for multiple applications.

 

Conceptually this mirror-finish polished chrome box is every bit as ingenious as its broad range. This is a really classic and classy everyday overdrive of its kind - which weirdly gets overlooked quite a lot these days. I will likely bring it in on rotation into the chain fairly soon - while there have been a lot of incoming overdrives of late. I really like this, and would reckon most could find pretty great use for it.


Meatbox SubSynth - discontinued - $229 when new

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This Sub-Harmonic Synthesizer and Low-End Enhancer is actually best used in combination with another drive or fuzz pedal - per the attached demo. On it's own is can sound a little odd and unrefined at times - which I guess some players can utilise for clever texturising effects if carefully dialled in.

 

For me the natural heir to this effect really is Way Huge's recent Atreides Weirding Module - which adds vocal envelope filtering, phasing, and a Fuzz voicing into the mix. I dare say some players - bass players in particular can find some cool stand-alone uses for the Meatbox, while more players will prefer to use it in tandem with other gain pedals. I've had this on my wishlist before as reported, but nowadays the Atreides does much the same thing with even more variation.


Phasor 201 - discontinued - $149 when new

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One of the all-time classic 2-Stage phasers alongside the MXR Phase 45, and from a similarly early period of phaser development. This is a vintage style phaser - most recently revived in 2014 and replicating entirely that warm analog sound - albeit with slightly different parts.

 

This followed a similar enclosure path to the 250 - starting off in grey enclosure in the 70's, then updated to yellow in the 80's, and finally reissued in sparkling blue just 7 years ago. I can certainly appreciate its contributions to history - while my own phasers tend to be a little more extended feature - versus that single Speed dial.


Rubberneck Analog Delay - $270

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And handily the last listed - DOD's excellent Rubberneck Analog Delay is also their last pedal released - back as recently as 2017. In fact there's still a few in distribution.

 

This superb analog delay has no less than 9 parameter controls and a send/return Feedback Loop. The Time control goes from 30ms to 1 second, and then you have Repeats and Level, 2 x Dual-Concentric controls - Rate and Depth, and Gain and Tone. Finally we have two mini controls built into the 2 x LED casings - or Rubberneck Rate, and Regen Adjust. The two footswitches are Effect On, and Tempo/Regen.

 

There are very few analog delays quite this smart - it's mostly just this and JAM Pedals very recent Delay Llama Extreme. The only downside for me and my stereo rig is that this is a Mono pedal. Otherwise this is about as versatile an analog delay as you can get - and has been very favourably reviewed by all.


Final Thoughts

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Honourable mentions should probably go to a number of other highly collectible DOD pedals - particularly in the 'Lamb Series' - including :

  • FX10 Bi-Fet Preamp
  • FX70P Big Pig Fat Distortion
  • FX33 Buzz Box Distortion
  • FX52 Classic Fuzz
  • FX86B Death Metal Distortion
  • FX25 Envelope Filter
  • FX101 Grind Rectifying Overdrive
  • FX69B Grunge Overdrive/Distortion
  • FX51 Juice Box Overdrive
  • FX76 Punkifier Fuzz/Distortion
  • FX22 VibroThang Vibrato

While I personally don't particularly like the aesthetics of the 'FX' designation DOD pedals - a large number of them still sounded great, and in fact some fetch some quite silly prices nowadays!

 

The archetypical DOD is still its celebrated 250 Overdrive Preamp while a number of those more recent pedals are pretty fantastic too. I really like the elegance and simplicity of those striped enclosures which really look quite distinct and iconic throughout pedal history. While the 'FX' versions pretty much look stuck in the 80's.

 

I will likely pick up a few more over the years - while that will largely depend on the opportunity / state of wear, and prevailing mood and priorities at that time.

 

There's no doubt that DOD deserves its place in pedal history, and whatever happens - it will leave a great legacy.

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Stefan Karlsson
Stefan Karlsson
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