OK so let’s set the record straight right away - these are not vintage pedals - but rather vintage circuit replicas housed in modern compact enclosures which have in turn been deliberately aged and relicked! So these are really mixed media concoctions of sorts but very successful executions all round actually.
The Breakdown is based on the much larger 1968 wah/rocker style Univox UD50 Uni-Drive pedal which had two knobs - Pedal Range and Input Level to go with the variable gain control of the treadle. In its modern incarnation we have just two controls - Volume, and a 6-way Break-Up selector which goes from mild Boost pretty much through to a sort of fuzzy-distortion.
The Eisenhower Fuzz is also based on a much larger box - the Foxx Tone Machine from 1972 - but instead of the Volume, Tone and Sustain Knobs and Octave Switch, we now have 4 Knobs - Volume, Fuzz, Treble and Bass, and the Flat-Sculpt switch scoops the mids.
As the fuzz fanatic that I am - I snapped up The Eisenhower pretty much as soon as it was announced, while the tweaker in me seemed a lot less impressed / interested in The Breakdown. Over time though I’ve really warmed to the character of The Breakdown - and it’s actually another pedal which sort of slots into my favourite fuzzy-drive territory.
On first glance I wasn’t sure about the weathered look - as I’m really not a fan of faux relicking, but I really like the faux ageing on the knobs and have kind of warmed to the scratches and burnishes of these pedals - figuring it sort of lines up with their core mission. In fact I so liked The Eisenhower that I ordered The Breakdown too. Both of these are what I would classify ’rotational’ pedals - more for occasional use than long-term pedalboard residency, but they are worthy additions to the Tone Library, and I much prefer to acquire these genre types in these neat format enclosure rather than the much bulkier originals!
There's really not much more to be said about this pedal than covered in the intro - a compact relicked replica of the Univox UD50 Uni-Drive circuit with just 2 controls - Volume and 6-way Break-Up. The first 3 settings are recommended for a sort of always-on PreAmp boost to add warmth and sparkle - much as you would with an Xotic EP Booster or other similar PreAmp style boost. Settings 4-6 are then progressively gainier / more saturated overdrive - having a slightly fuzzy rasp to it, and pretty much sticking a toe in distortion territory at the highest extreme. Despite these simple controls - this pedal really does have a lot of range - which you can further tweak via your guitar's Tone and Volume pots. Having first dismissed it as 'too simple' I've since warmed to its charms and now really rather like it as an occasional fuzzy-drive / overdrive. The boost stages are cool - but I have plenty in that department already so for me it's really 4 and up!
A really quite superb take on the Foxx Tone Machine - with somewhat extended range in some ways - and both the Flat and Sculpted Mids modes sounding tremendous. As Brett demonstrated above - this is just a wonderful dynamic and lively octave fuzz with all manner of great sounds lurking within its weathered exterior. You've already probably heard that I have 120+ fuzzes in my Tone Library - so each one that gets added now has to be pretty special - and this certainly warrants inclusion. It's just an all-round delight to use - and you can find useful tones at pretty much every extreme of those dials!
When these first came out, part of me was deeply sceptical - at least about the relicking side of things - while I immediately loved those unique knobs! I have no doubt Danelectro make some decent pedals - but I never liked the look of their slightly dinky looking rounded curve core range - something about it just looked plasticky and insubstantial to me. I like a different look in enclosure - but I want it more robust and hardwearing like a ThorpyFX or solid brass a la Vemuram.
So putting pedals in damaged looking enclosures is always a gamble - while on balance these actually work really well within this particular context - although some of the relicking is obviously too modern - it does not have that well-worn patina of old, but rather fresh looking battle wounds from battles ne'er fought! Some more subtle burnishing in places would possibly have been preferable.
I of course now have and love both these pedals - yet as my first inclinations indicated - I am likely to get more use out of the Fuzz probably longer-terms - I feel both are worthy of your consideration though.