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Catalinbread Dirty Little Secret--First Thoughts

Angle Loss

Senior Member
Messages
1,505
I just got my Dirty Little Secret, which thanks to Catalinbread was shipped the same day I ordered it. I've played it for about half an hour through my '65 Princeton NR/Red Fang and a little while longer through a Roland Micro Cube RX while watching tv.

I really like the pedal, first. It will be a keeper. It is fairly low gain in my opinion. Semi-clean tones in the Rock mode are very easy. This pedal uses some sort of JFET structure, so it is touch sensitive like an amp. The Rawk mode seems to bump up the mids/low mids perhaps pre-gain. The difference is there, but not too dramatic. I played it with a MIJ Tokai es-335, a 50's style Tele, and both of my strats. All the guitars sounded great through it, though yielding quite different tones. It is fairly transparent in EQ, and the tone knob has a great range from creamy JTM-45 to glassy.

Within the next week I'll be playing out with it, so that will give me an opportunity to hear in band context.

My only quibbles with it so far is that I wish it had just a touch more post gain bass, and more gain for the Rawk mode. I really wouldn't touch the Rock mode. The level of gain doesn't approach JCM800 levels. I would say it would be pressed to reach full cranked Plexi tones. Pushing it with a homemade overdrive/booster or a compressor did easily get it into those areas. I would buy a second pedal if they made the "Dirtier Little Secret". :phones Seriously, I want a dirtier one.

I haven't taken a look at the circuit, but had a good laugh at the Einstein quote on the bottom of the circuit board. A brilliant quote!

I'll post some more thoughts after I've played it longer and louder.
 

erksin

Senior Member
Messages
23,130
The amount of gain you get from it is REALLY dependent on how hot your pickups are - we're finishing up another clip using a Flying V with really hot ceramics in it and the gain level is much higher.

Thanks for your support man - it means a lot to us, especially in these tough economic times. We know dirt pedals aren't exactly a necessity for a lot of people right now.
 

utterhack

Member
Messages
3,424
Pushing it with a homemade overdrive/booster or a compressor did easily get it into those areas. I would buy a second pedal if they made the "Dirtier Little Secret". :phones Seriously, I want a dirtier one.
I'm guessing dirtier would lose the clean-up character. Sounds like for "dirtier" it's sort of intended to be hit with a boost. From the cbread site:

In essence, the DLS is a ‘foundation’ pedal – a sonic platform to build the rest of your sound upon. It reacts to your playing dynamics and respects the character of your guitar’s pickups just like the classic British amplifiers it emulates. Use it to set your base crunch rhythm sound into a clean amp, roll your guitar’s volume back for cleans.

Notice how treble boosters sound like shards of brittle glass or how fuzzes sound cheesy & thin into clean amps? The DLS seamlessly integrates treble boosters and fuzzes with clean low volume amps, delivering a thick cranked sound at reasonable volume levels. What is surprising to people experiencing the DLS for the first time is that we’ve managed to capture the same dynamic interaction felt between a player and an amp but in a pedal.

The DLS cleans up with light picking attack and volume knob changes – it reacts in the same way as those amplifiers do. It crunches when you hit it hard, cleans up when you play softly, and has that punchy cabinet ‘air movement’ thing happening even at low volume levels. By the same token the DLS respects your guitar’s characteristics. The result doesn’t sound like a typical ‘amp in a box’ pedal because it doesn’t feel like you’re playing a pedal – it feels like an amp.

Another aspect of the pedal we put a lot of thought into was how it reacts to different power supplies. There are significant differences to be had in tone and playing feel response based on what voltage is used – just like if you were running your amp with a Variac. Running the DLS at 18 volts, you’ll experience lots of dynamic movement happening – Kerrang! - there is a resonance to the sound giving the impression that you are playing through a 4x12 cabinet. At 18V you will get quite a bit more output than at 9V. At 9 volts, the pick attack is a bit more soft and smooth than running it at 18v but there is still plenty of punch and articulation. Using a battery, you’ll get a spongier playing feel and creamier sound.

The controls are simple and effective – Loudness governs output, Tone morphs from smooth and fat to crunchy and cutting, Gain goes from clean and clear to full crunch with harmonics, and the Rock/Rawk switch selects 60s - 70s JTM/JMP sounds (Rock) or ‘80s JCM tones (Rawk).

Since the DLS was designed to emulate two classic British amplifiers, let’s get into each mode setting and what they have to offer in variety of sounds. Rock mode: This is your classic 60s - 70s rock sound. Chords are crunchy with lots of string definition and punch; single string playing is more clean than hairy and sounds clear and articulate. Picking dynamics are very apparent since there isn’t a ton of gain compressing your signal. The lowend “cabinet” resonance is at your chest, loose but NOT flabby. Rawk mode: In Rawk mode, you’ll notice more gain and a more focused response – chords are thick, single strings have more smoothness and harmonic content. The cabinet feel is still there - tighter and more immediate. It’s quicker to decay into controlled harmonic feedback too.

We’re really proud of this pedal – it took months of critical listening to voice it just right and we think we’ve nailed it with the DLS. We hope it inspires you to do what you do best – make our music!
 

Angle Loss

Senior Member
Messages
1,505
Thanks for the thoughts. To clarify I do really enjoy the dynamics of the Rock mode. Since 1) this mode is already established and sounds great, and 2) the Rawk mode sounds somewhat similar, although more aggressive, I thought that I might figure out how the switch works to alter the boost of the Rawk mode. I don't use high output pickups, mostly single coils and low output PAF style HB's. Having that mode add more additional gain would be a plus for me, and I don't have to sacrifice the dynamics of the Rock mode. I just like to get into Van Halen 1 territory with gain, nothing with "Nu" as a prefix. :p

My compliments to the designer/s. And for using a mic'd amp for the youtube videos rather than those horrible camera mics. It makes a big difference when evaluating pedals. btw, I've found that it stacked great with a homemade BC108 Fuzz Face (fuzz into DLS). Add a little delay and its perfect.
 

Angle Loss

Senior Member
Messages
1,505
9v definitely. I have all the dynamics I personally need at 9v. I sure I will try it at high voltage someday, but it doesn't lack dynamics.
 
Messages
2,994
This post actually makes me want to try the pedal more! To the OP, I see you have a Timmy. I love my Timmy for low gain stuff but once I hit the half way mark on the gain I don't like it into a clean amp (a cooking amp is different).

I've been looking for a pedal to take over from the Timmy when I want a bit more dirt. I was thinking OCD, but my Dano Drive (OCD clone) doesn't quite cut it (I know, I should really try the real thing). I need to retain clarity, transparancy, and still want to sound like I am playing my amp (not suddenly like I completely switched rigs). In your opinion, does the DLS do this? When I read the JCM 800 comments on other threads I was a bit put off, but your post kind of counters those concerns.

TG
 

Angle Loss

Senior Member
Messages
1,505
I think my Timmys might have some competition for low gain (Timmy gain at noon). The DLS doesn't have as much drive as the Timmy does. The feel is a little better with the DLS, but I love the sound of the Timmy. My use is different than yours though. I use a Princeton/Club Deluxe/'66 Bandmaster for clean tones at different volume levels and use pedals for drive. I haven't tried the DLS into an overdriven amp or even into another drive pedal yet. Should sound good, but I imagine I will be running other drive pedals before it.
 
Messages
2,994
My use is different than yours though. I use a Princeton/Club Deluxe/'66 Bandmaster for clean tones at different volume levels and use pedals for drive.
Actually, that's exactly how I would use the pedal: into a clean amp (in my case a 1965 Tube rectified Traynor Bassmaster; essentially a JTM 45).

So the DLS is actually a low gain pedal? Hmm, I was thinking it had more dirt on tap then the Timmy.

TG
 

Angle Loss

Senior Member
Messages
1,505
Actually, that's exactly how I would use the pedal: into a clean amp (in my case a 1965 Tube rectified Traynor Bassmaster; essentially a JTM 45).

So the DLS is actually a low gain pedal? Hmm, I was thinking it had more dirt on tap then the Timmy.

TG
It actually has a wider range of clean and borderline dirty (dynamically controllable) tones than the Timmy--mine are older 1 meg drive pot Timmys; the newer 500k version have a wider or more easily adjustable semi-clean range. I rarely use a volume knob to clean up tones, but do enjoy touch sensitivity, which this has. I imagine it would be a great match for your amp.
 

zerorez

Member
Messages
2,138
I received mine today and all I can say is wow!, Kudos to Nick and the Crew on this one. Also big thanks to Howard for the killer vid's showcasing what the pedal can do through a small watt clean combo.

Don't change a thing, this pedal is awesome, it changes my Fender Princeton RRI into a little tone monster, the dynamics and cleanup are incredible.

I have been running mine off battery 9 volts and both modes Rock/Rawk are steller and I using stock vintage output PAF WB's and Lollar Blondes single Coils.

It's all there folks, from edgy bluesey breakup ala Rock to a nice aggressive Plexi via Rawk mode, this pedal covers a lot of tonal spectrum.

If you want more gain then stack it with something else, otherwise the cleanup volume rollback and dynamics may be effected with a higher gain version.

Definitely a keeper for me.

Thanks Nick and Crew, and everybody that put all the work into the R&D time for the DLS.

You Guys are Awesome! :BEER

Joe
 
Last edited:

catalinbread

Member
Messages
2,456
I received mine today and all I can say is wow!, Kudos to Nick and the Crew on this one. Also big thanks to Howard for the killer vid's showcasing what the pedal can do through a small watt clean combo.

Don't change a thing, this pedal is awesome, it changes my Fender Princeton RRI into a little tone monster, the dynamics and cleanup are incredible.

I have been running mine off battery 9 volts and both modes Rock/Rawk are steller and I using stock vintage output PAF WB's and Lollar Blondes single Coils.

It's all there folks, from edgy bluesey breakup ala Rock to a nice aggressive Plexi via Rawk mode, this pedal covers a lot of tonal spectrum.

If you want more gain then stack it with something else, otherwise the cleanup volume rollback and dynamics may be effected with a higher gain version.

Definitely a keeper for me.

Thanks Nick and Crew, and everybody that put all the work into the R&D time for the DLS.

You Guys are Awesome! :BEER

Joe

NICE! Thank you for the support particularly in this economy! Speaking of economy... Our economy of tunes made by our customers for us to listen to is pretty slim right now. :bkw

:D
 

Purple

Member
Messages
840
woo hoo!

yeah, we kinda went back and forth on how much gain the Rawk mode should have but we didn't want to sacrifice dynamics OR stacking ability.

i'll reiterate that it is very sensitive to how hot your pickups are.

but you're probably right, it's probably more like JTM45 (Rock) and plexi (Rawk) than 800 without stacking.

:AOK
 

CitizenCain

Member
Messages
4,821
If it works well into a clean amp, would it be good for serving as an interface into a SS amp to give it a more tubey vibe and make other pedals react better to the amp?
 

Purple

Member
Messages
840
If it works well into a clean amp, would it be good for serving as an interface into a SS amp to give it a more tubey vibe and make other pedals react better to the amp?
It should work for that purpose. We haven't tried it thru a SS amp yet though although a user did report back that it sounded remarkably good straight into a mixer so I'm going to hazard a "Yes" to that question.

But in all the clips, the Princeton was set so low it was contributing zero distortion to the sound so it really should be pretty similar into a SS amp set clean.
 

catalinbread

Member
Messages
2,456
It should work for that purpose. We haven't tried it thru a SS amp yet though although a user did report back that it sounded remarkably good straight into a mixer so I'm going to hazard a "Yes" to that question.

But in all the clips, the Princeton was set so low it was contributing zero distortion to the sound so it really should be pretty similar into a SS amp set clean.
Assuming the SS amp has a decent preamp and speaker. All I have around here is one of those Vox Transitube things. When I think SS amp I think JC120. Alas I do not have one of them around. Although TOP said he played a bit through the Cube.
 

Purple

Member
Messages
840
Assuming the SS amp has a decent preamp and speaker. All I have around here is one of those Vox Transitube things. When I think SS amp I think JC120. Alas I do not have one of them around. Although TOP said he played a bit through the Cube.
Try it thru that vox transvestitetube amp! I'm curious as well, actually.

I has no SS guitar amps. :cry:
 

In Tune

Member
Messages
1,368
Assuming the SS amp has a decent preamp and speaker. All I have around here is one of those Vox Transitube things. When I think SS amp I think JC120. Alas I do not have one of them around. Although TOP said he played a bit through the Cube.
I will blast it thru an excellent GK250ML (Remember Dose Wans?) When I get it. :dude
 




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