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Seymour Duncan Unleashes 70's/80's Half-Stack Inspired Chewy Harmonics High Gain Diamondhead Multistage Distortion + Boost

Brown Sound DistortionDistortionDual-DriveMarshall Style DistortionMetal DistortionSeymour Duncan+-
2019GPXSeymoutDuncanDiamondHead700.jpg

By all accounts a rather fabulous and timely pedal, in a great form factor, yet a couple of things have me a touch peeved from the outset. One fairly minor, while the other is likely a lot more significant. On the minor side - I always get somewhat annoyed when builders are overly opaque about the mechanics of their pedals. Seymour Duncan does not mention what manner of technology generates the tone, while one would guesstimate OpAmp as the likeliest source - I am one of those who likes to know the nature of what I work with. The pedal is also billed as ’Multistage’ but we’re not given any details on how many cascaded stages there are here, nor exactly how the 3 obvious gain stages - Saturation, Distortion and Boost interact. I can only infer that the 805-circuit-based ’SAT’ (Saturation) switch would be a pre-gain boost in the usual Tube-Screamer style role, meaning the BOOST footswitch would likely be post - although when the BOOST is cranked you very much get a degree of gain boost too - so it would have been nice to have had some further details on the general circuit flow/mechanics here and the degree of gain-staging. More significantly though and from what I can see - the pedal is being introduced into the American market at a very reasonable opening offer discount of $229 (c£180), while it’s on sale in the UK at Andertons for £300 - or nearly twice what the Americans will pay. I’m not disputing the quality of the pedal - but obviously price does play a key factor in acquisition strategies and £120 is a very significant margin of difference! UPDATE! UK Pricing has now been adjusted to £249 which is an improvement, but there’s still £70 difference between countries.

 

As for the output of said pedal, it’s exactly the sort of thing I gravitate towards - nay love even. Very obviously based on the late 70’s / early 80’s Marshall JMP/JCM 4x12 Half-Stacks - and with those unmistakable Chewy Harmonic Mids which have made the Marshall sound so well loved for so long. The +/- 13dB 3-Band Active EQ and +15dB Boost give you an enormous range as it is, but then you have the additional ’SAT’ switch which engages a Tube-Screamer style boost circuit based on Seymour Duncan’s own 805 pedal. For some metal-heads this may not be as modern and tight a pedal as they like - it’s obviously engineered more for those saturated 80’s style sounds. I would says there was a degree of equivalency here to the Bogner Ecstasy Red - but each pedal has its own pros and cons - and the Diamondhead certainly wins on the ease of use stakes - it also has that interesting triple gain-staging which obviously the Bogner does not.

PT 2

There are a number of demos out there, and as is often the case Rabea is the one that gets it spot on for my taste - demonstrating exactly the sort of tones that appeal to me. This Pedal comes a little late for my Best Vertical Medium Enclosure High Gain Metal Distortion Pedal roundup per the above visual - but it would undoubtedly have made the cut, and does indeed go straight onto my wishlist. By and large Seymour Duncan pedals don't always hold their price as well as they should, and I will probably hedge the market somewhat in expectation of a better price. I'm not saying that this pedal has to be made available to me at the US equivalent £180, but I require some degree of equivalency otherwise it seriously upsets my sense of balance and justice!

 

All in all then a really great effort from Seymour Duncan, and a much more appealing form factor for me vs say their Palladium. When I first saw the teasers I wasn't sure what we were going to get, and first thought of the Mad Professor Loud N'Proud which is a similar form factor, but based much more on the Plexi and Hendrix side of things versus the New Wave of British Heavy Metal! I will certainly be getting one at some stage - exactly when remains to be seen!

 

One final thing - if you're playing word-bingo then the most commonly used phrase in the reviews apart from 'chewy mids' is 'centre-detent' - as each of the EQ dials nicely snaps into position at the mid point which is often the case for higher quality pedals.

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Stefan Karlsson
Stefan Karlsson
Guitar Pedal X
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