A Seymour Duncan what? Yes, the Californian pickup maestro has a brand new distortion pedal on the market. And in case you were about to sigh and say 'just what the world needs... another distortion' Tom Quayle has some interesting news for you.
Designed and built in Santa Barbara, California, the Seymour Duncan Dirty Deed pedal is a high quality dirt pedal that produces everything from lightly overdriven tones to all-out Rock distortion. The design features a small footprint with a dual MOSFET circuit, housed in a very solid metal case sporting a simple but cool looking fascia that wouldn’t be out of place on any pedal board. The control layout is also simple with only four controls - level, drive and a pair of active EQ controls for shaping treble and bass frequencies. Power can be supplied in the form of a 9v battery that can be easily changed or removed thanks to a fantastic ‘easy access battery door’ on the back of the pedal - no screwdrivers required here! A standard 9v or 18v centre negative power supply can also be used, allowing for more saturation and compression at 18v (something we didn’t get chance to try in the review process). The circuit is True Bypass, as all pedals seem to be these days, and is, of course, all-analogue giving very amp-like performance at all settings.
The construction quality of the Dirty Deed is fantastic throughout with a solid and responsive feel to all the controls and a professional level bypass switch that makes quick pedal presses easy and satisfying underfoot. The casing and finish are really first class, making the pedal feel like it has been well thought out and built with care and attention. Locating the in/out and power jacks at the top of the pedal is a great idea and allows for more pedals to be placed adjacent to one another on your board without the plugs fighting for space.
Plugged into our studio amp and running through the clean channel, it became evident how versatile this distortion pedal is thanks to the sheer range of gain available from the drive and level control combinations. With the drive at a minimum and the level boosted high, the Dirty Deed works superbly as a transparent boost pedal, offering a great way to push the front end of your amp without altering the tonal characteristics. Combined with the EQ controls, you can really shape the existing tone of your signal without adding in any drive from the pedal at all. Engaging the drive control at about one third gives a lovely, dynamic and pick responsive overdrive that works great for anything from classic Rock tones with humbuckers, to glassy lead tones with single coils. Rolling back the volume of the guitar at these settings offers the equivalent of a low wattage tube amp on full blast, cleaning up beautifully at lower volumes. Pushing the drive control further adds ever increasing levels of saturation and compression until you hit a pseudo fuzz level of drive that sustains forever and screams with high output pickups. Lower it a little and you can achieve lovely saturated lead tones and power chord chugs from the clean channel of your amp with ease.
Placed in front of a crunch or lead channel, the Dirty Deeds adds girth and sustain to an overdriven amp tone and can take even low gain amps into saturated territory without adding excessive noise and mud. Using the EQ controls you can remove any low end flub or high end fizz and shape the lead or rhythm tone to suit almost any genre or mix environment. This is as much a tone shaping device as it is a drive pedal.
Thanks to the dual MOSFET design, the Dirty Deed pedal really does remain amp-like in its feel and dynamic response, even through lower end amplifiers. If you happen to be stuck with a less than ideal amp or have to rent back line for gigs, then the Dirty Deed is the kind of pedal you could rely on to get a great tone in almost any venue. This aspect is enhanced greatly by the active Treble and Bass EQ controls that offer both 12db of cut and boost at around 2.1kHz and 90Hz respectively. In the review process we found that these frequencies offered a very musical and useful tool for shaping the dirt from the pedal and give a huge amount of flexibility to an already versatile pedal. Being active, they add no excess noise to the signal and are noiseless in their operation throughout their range.
Seymour Duncan has also taken the time to produce a very thorough manual with some great example settings to get you started, completing a package that is well thought out, constructed and implemented, resulting in a highly versatile and superb sounding pedal. If you’re in the market for a high quality, amp-like drive pedal the Dirty Deeds is a fantastic choice. Our view? It's one of the very best around and at a very good price for a thoroughly professional piece of equipment.