Emilio Massari of Cornerstone Music Gear relates how the Gladio Preamp was engineered principally to replicate Robben Ford’s recorded Dumble ODS Tones. Those in part lean more towards the Jazz and Steel String Singer voicings - for more clarity and smoothness versus the raunchier fuzz-edged ’Rock’ and HRM mid-pushed tones from that hugely versatile amp.
Emilio then further honed the core Gladio circuit towards the tones of Sonny Landreth, Eric Johnson and Stevie Ray Vaughan - while the core essence of these 2 pedals is very much the Robben Ford take. The larger BB-size Gladio Preamp obviously has a second Channel where you can switch between Jazz and Rock voicings - so that delivers more of the fuzz-edged texture if you want that.
For the Gladio SC, the Preamp’s Channel I has been extracted, and a Clean Blend control added for more nuance and dynamics. My long-term Dumble Benchmarks, which readers should be very familiar with by now - are the Demon Pedals Kondo-Shifuku Drive, and the fully-loaded Custom Tones Ethos Clean-Fusion II Preamp. For the Kondo and Clean-Fusion II I tend to run those fairly zingy - preferring the Kondo for the more textured approach mainly, and the Clean-Fusion for the smoother Dumble take - just on the cusp of the edge!
The Gladio SC’s Controls include an internal Bass trim-pot to fine-tune the low-end response and balance the output of the other 4 knobs and 2-way switch - Tone, Clean Blend, Volume, Comp : More/Less, and Gain.
I see the Gladio SC very much as a great alternative for that smoother take, and my preferred option over something like a Hermida ZenDrive - which treads a roughly similar path. As always, players need to know what they’re into - and if they’re after singing smooth Dumble-style tones, then the Gladio SC is a formidable and leading contender of that genre. No 2 Dumble Pedals are alike, as the source amp - the Overdrive Special is so versatile - and those pedals and preamps are only really able to capture some small part of that amp’s total capabilities.
I really like my Gladio SC with Tone at 2 o’c, Clean Blend at 3 o’c , volume around 10:30 o’c, and Gain at circa 2 o’c. I also prefer it with the Comp Switch turned down. This delivers beautifully expressive and dynamic singing tones - which most players should find some appeal in. For those looking for a more raunchier take on the Dumble - you need the Gladio Preamp or one of the other alternatives - both the Kondo and Clean-Fusion II do those tones really well too.
As always I let the pedal lead me as to where the sweet spots land - and the Gladio SC is a worthy addition to my growing Dumble roster - it is its own distinct take, and has its own preferred usage scenarios. I never approach pedals with any particular expectations - and I had had a variety of feedback on the two Gladios from a number of readers - mostly overwhelmingly positive - but as mentioned - I rather let the pedal guide me than any opinion. I always try to gauge overall range first, and then I find my sweet spot/s within that - where I’m current having the most delight in my references settings above.
These pedals are beautifully and carefully made in Italy, and as long as you know which style of Dumble is your preference - no one should be disappointed. Have no doubt that these are both leading examples of the genre - with no less than the Robben Ford himself offering his own endorsement - per the below visual!
The Gladio SC is available at several quality retailers and of course direct from the Cornerstone Music Gear Webtore, priced at €279.