DUNLOP DVP-1 VOLUME PEDAL
A volume pedal is a mammoth component of my live sound, and as I can’t fit one inside my tidy little pedalboard case, it must live elsewhere. That’s where the horror comes in. “Elsewhere” can mean neatly and safely packed into a gig bag or cable duffle. It can also refer to being tossed rudely into death traps— such as car trunks, trap cases, and loading docks—when I have mere seconds to strip my rig down before the next act assaults the stage. As a result—and through absolutely no fault of the manufacturers—I have destroyed complete generations of volume pedals.
But the Dunlop DVP-1 does not fear me. I think it thinks it’s indestructible, and its massive, battleship-like aluminum casing and steel-band drive are excellent reasons for such confidence. I chucked the DVP-1 out of a first-story window onto a concrete driveway, careened into it and bounced over it with a 4x12 speaker cabinet, and dropped a road case directly on top of it. No ill effects. To test the mettle of the all-important steel band that controls volume swells, I jumped on and off the treadle, making like a seesaw with my full weight for ten minutes. Then, I rapidly snapped the treadle and base apart like King Kong cracking open the T. Rex’s head in the original 1933 talkie. I did this 20 times. Nothing. (If the T. Rex were that tough, Kong wouldn’t have survived to climb the Empire State Building.) I know now that I will never be able to kill the ultra-tough DVP-1. My reign of terror has ended.
The pedal’s generous rubber tread looks like it was stripped off a Special Forces all-terrain vehicle, so keeping a positive grip on shoes or socks or bare feet is child’s play. User-adjustable pedal tension (using just a screwdriver) ensures the DVP-1 precisely tracks your technique, making all your volume swells smooth, sensual, and dramatic. All jack connections are tight and secure, the tuner output is stable, and the DVP-1 imparts no discernible coloration on your input signal. The DVP-1 ($99 street) is a simple concept, but with build quality taken to the max— much like the colored stitching on a Bentley’s leather seats—and it deserves an Editors’ Pick Award.
KUDOS Simply brilliant design. Tough as Thor.
WAY HUGE GREEN RHINO OVERDRIVE MKII
Way Huge founder Jeorge Tripps was one of the brightest stars of the boutique-pedal revolution of the ’90s. Although he produced (by his own estimate) less than 3,000 stompboxes during his company’s initial lifespan from 1992-1999, Tripps is not only an icon of guitar-effects design, but also a vastly influential and heroic figure to DIY builders. When Way Huge folded, acquisition mania followed almost immediately, and you’d often find Tripps’ used pedals being traded for many hundreds of dollars. In 2008, Jim Dunlop brought Tripps and Way Huge back into the manufacturing biz, and many lucky guitarists can now buy these pedals for much saner prices.
The Green Rhino first hit the scene in 1994, and for today’s MkII version ($129 street), Tripps upgraded the tonal firepower with a 100Hz knob (±12dB) and a Curve control that calms the mids. You can get a ton of grit and gusto out of the Rhino by simply shuttling between those controls and the pedal’s original Volume, Tone, and Drive knobs. I was also impressed that I could pin the 100Hz control at +12dB to add maximum wallop to riffs without introducing mud or low-end wobble. Nice voicing there. And if I drastically cut 100Hz to add articulation, I always had the option of rounding out any scrappy midrange peaks with the Curve knob. In addition, the pedal tracks performance dynamics very well, so there are even more tones available when you settle on a sound, and then lay back on your attack, or knock down your guitar’s volume knob.
All of this sonic versatility means that the Rhino plays well with most guitars and amps, and this inspired me, for some utterly bizarre reason, to try to emulate my fave periods of the Who’s catalog. Using a Hanson Chicagoan, a Fender Stratocaster, and a 1978 Les Paul Heritage—all plugged into a Vox AC30 idling on a clean sound—I relied on the Rhino to conjure the snotty skanks of “I Can’t Explain” (Tone cranked, 100Hz at -6dB, Drive set way low), the fat jumpin’ blues of “Shakin’ All Over” (Tone at 12 o’clock, 100Hz at +6dB, Drive at 2 o’clock), and the rev’d-up kerrangs of “Won’t Get Fooled Again” (Tone at 1 o’clock, 100Hz at -2dB, Drive at 4 o’clock), to name a few. Great fun. Great sounds. Great pedal.
KUDOS Organic. Dynamic. Versatile.