I’ve been meaning to do a feature on this Dutch pedal-maker for a while, and the new announcement for the forthcoming Moon Canyon pedal makes this a perfect time to do an introduction / mini-overview. The elusive Dr. No has been building pedals in Eindhoven since 2003, and specialises in rather unusual artsy enclosures which may not be to everyone’s taste! There are a slew of fuzz pedals here in different guises - often teamed up with one or more complementary effects.
The most famous / notorious Dr No. pedal is likely the original squidgy foam ’Turd Fuzz’ which sounds amazing despite its somewhat polarising looks. I have pretty much the same pedal now in its ’Mini’ enclosure version which includes a volume dial not found on the original.
All of the pictured pedals are limited editions typically ranging from 5 to 100 units and very occasionally 300. These are all pretty unique looking and sounding - but bar the Mini Turd, they are rather large or unusual shapes, and not particularly pedalboard friendly as far as that goes. They are made with premium materials and components and are likely to rise in value if that is your thing.
If artsy-looking pedals are not your thing, note that Dr No. also makes more normal / standard medium-sized enclosure pedals - featuring the same premium internal components, but more traditional casings and switches. For me the appeal of Dr. No is in his more unusual boxes - as featured above.
There is definitely an art-house feel to these, and understandably the appeal for many may be more from a collector’s standpoint than musician’s / live playing. Dr. No is obviously a pseudonym and he hides his identity well. I am all for supporting boutique pedal-makers and shining the light on those who do things a little differently!
A fairly standard but very high fidelity delay effects pedal with Mix (Present), Delay Time (Insanity) and Feedback/Repeats (Memory) controls in a rather unusual brain-themed enclosure and with suitable brain dials. I'm not sure whether this is analogue or digital, I presume the former, it sounds pretty pristine in any case, and similar to the Turd fuzz - possibly leans more towards the novelty side to a degree. There are no YouTube videos as of yet, but there is this Twitter video from 2016 -
A great sounding Octavia style octave fuzz plus booster - Dr. No seems to be particularly adept at delivery these sorts of hybrid fuzz pedals which are capable of giving you significantly more range and attack than most equivalent fuzzes. All the fuzzes here can be full-throated, but you can usually smooth them out too, and they react extremely well to guitar volume and tone dials.
Signature pedal for Troy Van Leeuwen (TVL) features an elegant boost control which you can layer with a cocked-wah style filter. This can be a fairly raw sounding fuzz-style pedal, but there's a tonne of tone sculpting ability onboard - so you can generate sweetness too. Dr. No has a range of fuzz/boost and fuzz/filter pedals for extended fuzz-sculpting and this sort of falls in with those.
No videos yet on YouTube, but has a cool Facebook video demo - www.facebook.com/novellermusic/videos/10155739074459773/ - a really neat all-in-one ambient pedal with 4 functions onboard including Drive, Looper, Delay and Reverb. Certainly a very unusual and unique pedal, and sufficiently pricey as a result - pre-orders open at the end of this month for a mid-to-late June delivery. I'm not sure this one's for me, but it's probably the coolest sounding pedal Dr. No has produced to date.
I think I got the last one off the Dr No web shop - there may still be some with other retailers. This is the most accessible Dr No pedal yet, and to my mind an improvement over the squidgy foam original - which sure is more unique, but lacks an onboard volume dial - which is present and correct in the mini. It's a lovely thick vintage germanium sounding fuzz that sounds amazing - obviously the styling is somewhat 'marmite'.
Alain Johannes's tone - a cocked wah sort of fuzz sounds fairly mellifluous and features the usual Dr. No appointments - pretty cool sounding pedal, but somewhat large for my tastes - slightly academic in any case as this has long sold out.
Another sweet fuzz from Dr No - this time within the chassis of a toy car. You really can't get a cooler fuzz pedal, and it sounds great - it's not just a gimmick - no this is sound-art! Certainly one for the collectors, as it is fairly low on pedalboard practicalities.
The original avant-garde fuzz - a medium density squidgy foam fuzz pedal you stomp on and the resting fly's eyes light up. This has no onboard controls, but responds very well to guitar volume and tone. My preference is for the mini version of this in a traditional compact enclosure with turd-shaped volume control, as I recently acquired. Pretty cool though and pretty unique, although understandably will only appeal to a select minority!
Pictured is the Black Edition, while the one in the demo is the Copper version. Again a pretty unusual shape, but probably just very slightly more practical than the car - this fuzz is also very slightly gnarlier than the other ones previously covered here - it can be smoothed out, but can also get pretty angry - as per Gearmandude's above demo.
The new forthcoming Moon Canyon triggered this piece, and when doing the research, I noted that there was just 1 Mini Turd left in the Dr. No store - so I decided I had to have that, it certainly does sound glorious, and if you really don't like that design, it's still pedalboard friendly and you can swap the volume dial and paint the chassis black if that suits you - the main point is that all these pedals sound great, the fidelity of the pedals is not sacrificed for the artifice of their looks.
There seem to be a lot of very humourless guitarists around who balk at anything other than a Fender guitar + Amp or Gibson Les Paul + Marshall and sometimes accompanied by standard enclosure pedals. These Dr. No pedals are for the more adventurous - the ones that look forward as well as back. Of course distribution on these is fairly limited, and many, as I have recorded are already sold out.
Of all the artsy ones, I find the Mini Turd the only suitably practical one, while I love the concept of the Moon Canyon, but cannot see it fitting in on my already expansive 39 unit pedal-chain, and I have all those effects available separately in any case. I still like the Keely Darkside and Monterey pedals, but have not seen fit to accommodate those either quite yet. In any case these would be more incidental pedals, but I could see myself getting all three of these at a later stage - which means the Moon Canyon will be likely sold out by then! Decisions Decisions ...