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An Introduction to the DanDrive Fuzz-Master-in-Chief

DanDrive PedalEffects Pedal MakersFuzzFuzz Face Style FuzzGermanium FuzzOctave FuzzSilicon FuzzTone Bender Style Fuzz+-
2019GPX4DanDriveMain700.jpg

Like many others I’m guessing, my first exposure to DanDrive Pedals was courtesy of Joey Landreth’s brief Secret Weapon Fuzz appearance on a relatively recent That Pedal Show Episode

 

I confess that I was not fully aware of Dan and his super high quality brand of Fuzz Pedals until that very moment - which is rare for such a Fuzz fan as me.

 

DanDrive Pedal Solution has actually only been established for a couple of years now - with the earliest official record being the first DanDrive post on his Instagram page on July 25th, 2017. Beyond a now discontinued Tweed Drive pedal - Dan is all about vintage quality fuzzes - meticulously hand-wired with the very best components available. He’s very precise about the components he uses, but not constrained or hung up on particular specific old stock transistors - although some of those are used too. Dan’s methodology involves meticulous attention to detail - including in particular the pedal wiring and directionality thereof which Dan identifies as key to the character, shape, texture and clarity of the output tone.

 

Dan’s pedals are currently in very hot demand - following That Pedal Show et al - and waiting times have gone up considerably of late. Right now turnaround on a pedal order is around 3 months - which is totally understandable as all these pedals are hand-crafted by Dan himself.

 

Just to make things easier for himself! - each pedal is offered in a variety of finishes - both ’clothed’ and raw enclosure. The standard pedals come either in Bright Grey or Matt Black Enclosures with some degree of polishing / relicking along the top edges. For €10 more you can have your pedal wrapped in ’Deluxe’ printed fabric - Dan usually keeps around 4 or 5 rolls of fabric to hand - typically in a colourful Paisley or marbled pattern, and Marvel comics more recently - which is what currently distinguishes this pedal line from an aesthetics viewpoint. I personally feel the little extra cost is well worth it for that touch of individuality!

PT 2

Dan has had some luck along the way in encountering and becoming associated with some of the finest contemporary purveyors of guitar tone - including DJ Simo, Nik Sevigny, Joey Landreth, Ariel Posen, Ron Ellis, Dylan Salfer and most recently Mick Taylor of That Pedal Show - who all now favour DanDrive Fuzzes.

 

From humble beginnings, these pedals are now becoming well-known in the 4 corners of the world - and particularly in the USA and Scandinavia of late. The one and only dealer to date is Swedish Retailer - 'These Go To 11' which carries most of the range. And Dan is in talks with interested parties from the UK currently with a view to establishing a UK dealer too - of course it has to be the right one - someone with that personal hands-on quality touch.

 

You could say that Dan is very much about doing 'Old School' in the best possible way - capturing the sound and feel of those great early innovations, while making just a couple of concessions to modernity in the format/shape and extended range of each of his pedals. I of course am an avowed pedal tweaker and fuzz fanatic - and these pedals are pretty much exactly the sort of thing I am constantly on the lookout for. He typically uses classic vintage guitars as part of an authentic vintage rig - to ensure that his pedals sound their very best.

PT 3

The core Range currently consists of 7 pedals across 4 categories really as follows:

  • Austin Blender Octave Up Silicon Fuzz (based on the 3-Knob Prescription Electronics C.O.B.)
  • Austin Pride Germanium + Silicon Fuzz (based on the César Díaz Texas Square Face Fuzz - a switchable Germanium + Silicon extended range 4-Knob and 3-switches Fuzz Face style)
  • Aequitas Germanium Fuzz (CV-military spec Transistor extended range 4-Knob, dual switch Fuzz Face style)
  • Equilibrium Silicon Fuzz (TI BC183 extended range 4-Knob, dual switch Fuzz Face style)
  • Veritas Silicon Fuzz (TI BC108 extended range 4-Knob, dual switch Fuzz Face style)
  • Secret Engine Germanium Fuzz (2-Knob JHS Zonk Machine style with Mids switch)
  • Secret Weapon Germanium Fuzz (3-Knob JHS Zonk Machine style with extra Bias Knob and Mids switch)

The 2 Austin types come standard in Matt Black Relicked (polished edges) enclosures - as does the Secret Weapon Fuzz; while the Secret Engine and 3 Fuzz Face varieties - Aequitas, Equilibrium and Veritas all come in Bright Grey / Raw Steel style enclosure (polished edges). As mentioned before, you can pay an extra €10 to get them wrapped in signature Paisley / Marbled / Marvel cloth - from the selection of fabrics that is available at the time.

 

I instinctively know great Fuzz pedals when I come across them - you hear a certain magical timbre in the tone - and I've already acquired 2 of the best here in my opinion - the full-fat Austin Pride, and the enhanced Secret Weapon - both of those will be fighting for ongoing supremacy on my #5 pedal-chain Germanium Fuzz Slot!

PT 4

In terms of forthcoming developments, Dan reports his experience at a Doyle Bramhall soundcheck has encouraged him to produce a more classic variety of Zonk Machine with a switch to toggle between slightly harsher classic mode and fuller sounding mode per the Secret Engine and Secret Weapon pedals. This pedal will be called the Secret Machine and will retail for €339. In fact Dan has just told me that the Secret Machine is in production and available for ordering now.

 

Long-term collaborator Nik Sevigny will be getting his own signature Fuzz Face 'The Osiris' (€359) with Germanium and Silicon switching, by default it has more gain and output Than the Austin Pride, and has a switch to give it even more output and grunt.

 

Dan is also working on a secret project for a celebrated LA-based guitarist looking to achieve some very distinctive fuzzy-drive tones. More will be revealed when the project is slightly further evolved and the specs and prototypes are more settled.

 

Here follow some further details about each of the current core pedals in alphabetical order:


Aequitas Germanium Fuzz (Extended Range Fuzz Face Style Fuzz) - €309

Dan does a series of 3 different Fuzz Face style pedals which are distinguished by the variety of Transistor onboard. The Germanium variety is called Aequitas and features now only CV-military spec transistors which typically not only sound better, but are far less temperature-sensitive than other types . All the Fuzz Face style pedals are extended-range and feature 4 knobs and 2 toggle switches - Level | Fuzz | Clean-up | Bias | Output Switch : Vintage/Díaz Mod (+20% Volume) | Bass Switch : Boost/Flat


Austin Blender Octave Up Silicon Fuzz (based on the Prescription Electronics C.O.B.) - €329

A very authentic take on the Prescription Electronics Clean Octave Blend with all the wonderful timbres of that pedal fully intact. 3 Knobs - Level, Blend and Gain/Octave help you shape the tone - which is generated by 3 rare but unspecified Silicon Transistors.


Austin Pride Germanium + Silicon Fuzz (based on the César Díaz Texas Square Face Fuzz - a modded Fuzz Face essentially) - €339

Stevie Ray Vaughan's guitar tech César Díaz started customising his Fuzz Face pedals as the stock versions did not really stand up to the rigours of touring. His solution was to have swappable pairs of transistors so that he could easily swap in Silicon for Germanium when the conditions required it. Dan has taken that concept one step further forward by including both sets of Germanium and Silicon Transistors - an actually very rare pairing of matched NPN Metal Can Transistors - currently Germanium NTE103 (depending on source/availability), an OC75 type or a 2N1208 type in combination with the NTE123 Silicon variety. The pedal retains the 4-knob topology from the other Fuzz Face style pedals in the range. 2 toggle-switches either side of the footswitch allow you to select Germanium (both Up) or Silicon (both Down) or one of each! Instead of the 2 centre toggle switches of the Fuzz Face styles just the Bass Boost Switch is retained - with the Cesar Diaz 20% volume boost being incorporated by default. This is currently the most fully-featured of Dan's core pedals and my personal pick of the range.


Equilibrium Silicon BC183 Fuzz (Extended Range Fuzz Face Style Fuzz) - €309

The Equilibrium looks and functions identically to the Aequitas Fuzz above - but has Texas Instruments BC183 Silicon Transistors onboard rather than Germanium CV varieties. Controls are the same - Level | Fuzz | Clean-up | Bias | Output Switch : Vintage/Díaz Mod (+20% Volume) | Bass Switch : Boost/Flat


Secret Engine Germanium Fuzz (John Hornby Skewes Zonk Machine style with additional Mids switch) - €329

Based on the JHS Zonk Machine - itself a sort of parallel variation of the Tone Bender MKI Fuzz - Dan takes it one step further by introducing a Mid Frequency Boost toggle switch which give this already lively fuzz a significant push within a Band Mix - just making the pedal all-round more usable and versatile. There are just 3 controls here - Fuzz | Level | Mids Switch : Boost/Flat. This Fuzz runs on 3 unspecified Germanium Transistors, typically AC127's - Dan is all about getting the output to sound just right and will select the best matched set of transistors to achieve those aims.


Secret Weapon Germanium Fuzz (extended range John Hornby Skewes Zonk Machine style with additional Mids switch and Bias Knob) - €339

This I understand is a collaboration with guitarist JD Simo and is a further evolution of the Secret Engine Fuzz - with an additional Bias Knob - to really work those more Splatty Mid-range frequencies. Controls here are - Fuzz | Level | Bias Mids Switch : Boost/Flat. The pedal uses the same variety of unspecified Germanium Transistors as the Secret Engine - typically AC127's.


Veritas Silicon BC108 Fuzz (Extended Range Fuzz Face Style Fuzz) - €309

From the same family as the Aequitas and Equilibrium - this time running off Texas Instruments BC108 Silicon Transistors. It has the same functions and control topology as its siblings - Level | Fuzz | Clean-up | Bias | Output Switch : Vintage/Diaz Mod (+20% Volume) | Bass Switch : Boost/Flat.


Final Thoughts

It has to be noted that these are very much vintage-style fuzzes in function - which means they perform best in a 'cranked' environment - where both pedal and amp are given a significant amount of juice as such. These have wonderfully nuanced and finessed tonal details which will be extracted more easily by experienced players - these particular tone machines are not really intended for newbies or rookies to the genre, and are very unlikely to be a beginner's first fuzz as it were in any case. Obviously the high pricing prevents that sort of thing to a degree - here you are really paying for the top quality componentry and the meticulous nature of Dan's engineering and assembly - all fully hand-crafted and hand-wired on a Point-to-Point basis.

 

Making pedals in this manner is by its very nature a delicate and time-consuming process and as there is now significant demand for these pedals, waiting-times are likely to go up. Obviously the quicker you get in touch with Dan via - info@dandrivepedal.com - the more expeditiously your order is likely to be met - but turn-around times are already at the 3 month mark and are likely to eventually reach the extremes of Analog.Man King of Tone and similar in-demand hand-built pedals.

 

Obviously these are not really in distribution apart from Sweden currently - so you will need to take them on faith to a degree - i.e. you can only really properly trial them at home - I have developed a knack for discerning tonal characteristics via triangulating different types of demos - albeit the source material needs to be of sufficient quality to sustain such inquiry. But there is definitely a degree here of buying blind. The collateral though comes courtesy of all those great tone purveyors who have already aligned themselves with DanDrive pedals - if you know and recognise those players and value their opinions and choices - then owning a DanDrive is a very simple act of faith.

 

My first introduction to the range was the Secret Weapon Fuzz as mentioned, and I then saw the Austin Pride and ordered one of those too (both enrobed as such!). I dare say I will have one or two more from the growing range at some stage in the future - but for now I feel I have acquired two of the very best pedals Dan has to offer.

 

In buying a DanDrive pedal - you are buying into his 'ears' and tonal preferences as it were, and his engineering methods and methodology in how he very uniquely wires up and assembles his circuits. He's a a great believer in providing the very best conduits for signal flow - and has some very unique techniques deployed in that area. From my own perspective, these pedals really match up well to my requirements - in being practical, versatile and pedalboard friendly - and of course looking as great as they sound.

 

Contact Dan at info@dandrivepedal.com to order yours now - before the waiting list gets too extreme.

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Stefan Karlsson
Stefan Karlsson
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