Danelectro FAB Overdrive: Review and Impressions

The FAB overdrive is possibly the cheapest pedal I ever brought… indeed, I think it is the most inexpensive pedal I know of at the moment. Mine costed only £10 on amazon UK, but the price usually fluctuates between 10 and 25 euros (or equivalent). On the other hand, as you might guess by the mere 4-minute long demo I made, this is a rather limited unit.  This is not necessarily a bad thing: it is cheap, light and simple, and an overdrive pedal is always a nice addition to your bass synth sound.

Like the other Danelectro FAB Pedals, this one has that characteristic shell of camel-toe shape with the knobs sticking out from the back of the unit. Although I can understand the appeal of such a slick design, I would rather be able to look at the front of the pedal and immediately know how it is set. Adding damage to injury, the only position indicator on each knob is a very fine dark-red  line. In a well lit studio, I can simply turn the unit around and have a better view of the knobs, but on a gig or a stage, I guess you just have to rely on your roadie to meet you with a flashlight :P.

Onward to the thing that matters most: the sound! As you might expect, this is not a high-end pedal, and I am not the kind of person who regularly uses overdrive/distortion pedals, but I did managed to get some education about it from Spectre Sound Studios’ “History of Distortion” video series, and also from listening to Dennis Mozgovoy demo of the Danelectro FAB Distortion (a close cousin of this pedal). All I can say is that this pedal does its job quite well: with the TONE and OD (overdrive) knobs at minimum (all the way to the right, if you are facing the front of the pedal) this unit added a nice amount of smudge to the sound coming from the Volca Bass. Up until half way up on the overdrive pedal, I could not hear any noticeable change in the sound, but beyond that point, messing around with the overdrive and tone knobs gave me some sweet spots were some interesting acid-like sounds emerged… and I guess that is the major point of using an overdrive pedal with a bass synth, like the Volca Bass.

Another important aspect of this unit is that it is very loud (it warns about being a high gain device on the manual), so you might want to put the LEVEL knob half way up, set your sound, and then use it to make sure your audio interface (or recording device) doesn’t start clipping all over the place. This unit takes the usual 9V centre negative plug your see on other guitar pedals, and draw at most 300mA. It can also take a standard 9V battery (you can access the battery compartment by unscrewing a single screw on the rubberized bottom plate).

In summary, if you want a simple and inexpensive pedal for those acid sounds, or if you fancy a little bit of smudge on your bass synth, this might be the pedal for you. Personally, I would use a splitter cable, and record both the dry sound and the pedal’s output, simply because that gives me the choice to blend more of the dry signal on post-processing, and make the overdrive effect more subtle. If you are interested, you may want to buy it from Amazon (US), or Amazon (UK).