Danelectro Fab Effects

All stores strategically place certain items by the cash registers to promote impulse buys. In most music stores, those goodies are typically limited to picks and string winders. We’re certainly not used to seeing effects pedals set up in a display to be snatched up on the way out the door like so many chocolate bars. But this could be the marketing masterstroke for Danelectro’s new Fab Effects.

The pedals are bright and shiny like new toys, and, at an unbelievable list price of $19 each (with a street price of around $15), you can grab the entire collection on the way to practice and still have money left over to spot your drummer for pizza. Neatly housed in sci-fi inspired plastic casings, and featuring rubber skid-plates, the three Fab pedals pay homage to classic buzz boxes. The sonic quality certainly implies vintage tone—minus the sticker shock and endless searches on craigslist.com—and while each pedal produces audible hiss, they aren’t significantly noisier than their pricier relatives. In addition, the pedals are very adept at translating subtle—and not-so-subtle—variations in timbre as you switch pickups or fool with your guitar’s tone controls.

Fab Overdrive

The platinum-hued Overdrive offers a decent approximation of the classic Tube Screamer’s midrange punch, and it beautifully riles up an amp’s distortion channel with increased sustain and complex harmonics, while allowing single notes to still punch out clearly. When I switched to the clean channel, the Overdrive added some nice frizz around the edges, and the O.D. (Overdrive) knob allowed me to dial in some raw force without sacrificing clarity.

Fab Distortion

The race car red Distortion is fabulously fat and warm sounding, and its versatile Dist (Distortion) control can produce everything from a little hair (perfect for aggro rockabilly) to classic-rock crunch and ’90s grunge sounds. The pedal is close to a classic Maxon D&S, and I found I could pull out a lot of cool variations by tweaking the Tone and Dist knobs. You sure get a nice palette of distortion tones for 15 or so bucks!

Fab Metal

The folks at Danelectro obviously know that you can never get enough metal in your diet and the wicked, black Metal has sonic personality to spare. As with a Boss Metal Zone, there’s tons of midrange and high-frequency output available, which helps harmonics squeal and leap out of the mix with Tasmanian Devil-ish ferocity. (Channel your inner Zakk Wylde!) Detuned barre chords literally spit and splatter like nasty little boys—similar to the raspy sheer of an original ProCo Rat—and the sustain won’t quit until you say so. When I plugged in my Gibson SG and set the Metal’s Tone and Gain controls at 12 o’clock, I got a spray of venomous grind reminiscent of an old Randall head. This is a crazy-good, precious metal pedal for the money.