Stompbox Fever(3)

March 1, 2004

Tested By Darrin Fox

Danelectro Wasabi AD-1 Forward-Reverse Delay

Offering tap tempo, stereo outs, and up to three seconds of delay time, the AD-1 ($149 retail/$129 street) is a workman-like echo pedal with an excellent reverse delay that will put you in touch with your psychedelic alter-ego. The only drag is that you can only access the reverse function by engaging a button on the pedal’s control panel—and trust me, you can’t do this with your foot, so don’t even try.

Still, the reverse effects are stunning, and the Tap function allows you to sync them up perfectly. I dug setting up the reverse delay as a mild slapback, which yields an eerie, yet subtle effect that’s not too strange to use all the time. The AD-1 also does “straight” delay very well, and the pedal’s inclusion of a Hi Cut control will delight those who prefer to bask in the warm glow of simulated tape repeats.

Danelectro Wasabi AO-1 Overdrive

The AO-1 ($129 retail/$99 street) offers four EQ Select settings that let you drastically reshape the pedal’s grind. Set to its Flat position, the AO-1 sounds like a rather conventional overdrive in the classic Tube Screamer mold. By clicking the EQ Settings knob clockwise, the AO-1 goes through a series of tonal makeovers that provide everything from hard-hitting metal tones with tons of low-end thwump, to aggressive blues/rock flavors (think slightly distorted Marshall JCM 800), to a junky, lo-fi tone that’ll turn any amplifier into a funky-ass 1x8 combo. Pretty sweet.

The Boost function (which can be set to +5dB or +10dB) is a godsend that not only affords you some extra “comfort volume” to assure that your solos are heard loud and clear, but it can also be used independently of the pedal’s overdrive circuit to coerce a tube amp into silky breakup. The AO-1 is actually two tasty pedals in one. Yum.

Danelectro Wasabi AX-1 Distortion

The AX-1 ($129 retail/$99 street) is technically a distortion pedal—I mean, that’s what they call the thing—but what do you call a box that conjures twisted fuzz sputters, intense uber crunch, and all sorts of tonal perversion? Well, personally, I call it cool.

Like the AO-1 Overdrive, the AX-1 has an EQ Select control with four distinct flavors, as well as an independent Boost function. But thanks to the AX-1’s active Bass and Treble controls, you’re afforded some radical tweezing that enables you to dial in slabs of molten fuzz, crappy lo-fi delights, and creepy sustain that conjures the elfin image of Robert Fripp, circa 1972. But that power does come at a price. As battery juice gets low—and that happens quickly—certain EQ settings will send the pedal squealing like a stuck pig. Running the AX-1 from a DC power source eliminates the problem.

Speaking of power, when I removed the pedal’s battery door, I noticed a tiny gray button. Low and behold, when you engage this “mystery switch” you get a nice slapback delay along with whatever timbral twistedness you’ve conjured. What a way to make an already cool pedal that much cooler!    

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