I think this trend of D-sound pedals was started by Hermida Audio and his Zendrive. Hermida was in love with the sound of Robert Ford's Dumble amp and, he wanted to capture the soul of such an amp in a guitar pedal.
And it did it really nice. The Zendrive is an awesome sounding pedal and, I loved it, except for the excessive compression that was taming down my attack (which I love to have). It could be a fair and accurate modeling of Ford's amp but, not my cup of tee.
I liked the voice and body character of that D-unit but, wasn't satisfied with the excessive compression so, I went to market searching for some alternatives. I was just weighting the Dumkudo, with a waiting list, importation stuff, etc. when I've seen that Wampler had the Euphoria Overdrive, that included a D-sound voice mode (smooth).
The attack in Wampler's unit is less compressed than in the case of Hermida's one, what I liked. The voice of the Euphoria isn't so creamy and sweet as the voice of the Zendrive and, I find that the "distortion grain" goes really fatter in Euphoria (like big balls), as soon as you start to roll on basses, what makes the sound a bit blurry.
Due to my own issues with my mains voltage, the Euphoria lacks body when my voltage drops, delivering a thin, weak and lifeless sound. Since I already own a couple of Weehbo pedals, that internally double the input 9V to 18V, giving more headroom and dynamics to the sound, I wanted to check their Dumbledore, their own take on the D-Sound.
Who has the truth?.
All them and none of them.
Take into account that Dumble amps were made-to-order amps and, every amp was tweaked for its particular owner. There are not two Dumble sounding the same so, each pedal maker can get the "core" sound behind Dumbles and fine-tuning that sound to their own particular taste.
Sound any of those exactly like the amp they are modeling?.
Honestly, I have no idea. I've never played a Dumble and, I've never played those Dumbles that each maker used as a reference for their own pedal.
Does it really matter?.
In my opinion, it doesn't.
What I like of the D-Sound is that sweet, warm and creamy soft distortion and, what I don't like is an excessive compression of the sound, due to a tube rectifier sagging.
Each maker (with a D-pedal) has its own take of that D-Sound so, check them all and just choose the one that better works for you.
This entry is all around my tests with Weehbo Effekte Dumbledore pedal and, how I can compare it to Zendrive and Euphoria pedals.
Pedal comes in a classy black cardboard box, with just the right "Marketing" stuff.
Inside, the box is foamed to protect the pedal.
With the pedal itself, you can find the complete Weehbo Effekte catalog, one Weehbo sticker and four adhesive rubber dots for the bottom plate of the pedal.
As usually in Weehbo pedals, the user's manual is just a short description along two pages that, basically describe the function of each particular control and, that focus in the particular functions of each model.
I am missing here some guide settings, to get a quick taste of pedals possibilities (something that always comes with any Wampler pedal).
This pedals has a new-brand look, as the PlexDrive and, differently to the JCM Drive (that looks as worn by the age). I love pedals to look like new-brand if I buy them new-brand so, thank you, Weehbo.
This one is quite similar to the INPUT control you will find in other Weehbo pedals. It helps to get the right input impedance level and to cook a light overdrive sound for the Standard mode.
Well, this one corresponds to the GAIN control you will find in other Weehbo pedals but, the difference is that this one boosts the drive for the More mod, providing a thicker and creamier distortion level.
Complete Tone Stack
Differently from other makers, the Dumbledore has a complete active tone stack, that allows you to tweak the sound to your needs. Bass, Treble and Mids are there to help you to easily get your wanted tone. Mids are highly dependent on the setting of the Mids selector.
Mids Freq selector
A three way toggle switch that fixes the central frequency for mids in three different spots, from lower to higher frequencies and, that helps a lot to make this pedal to cut the mix.
This control sets the overall output loudness of the effect.
Two hidden trim-pots
Inside this pedal, there are a couple of trim-pots that help you to fine-tuning the sound of this pedal to your taste. One is being named Tone and sets up the overall tone of the pedal and, the other one is called Presence and sets up the overall presence of the pedal.
I've still didn't played with such a controls but, they seem very interesting.
As in any of Weehbo's big boxes (with a couple of pedal switches), the Dumbledore includes the Dynamics switch that, when toggled to left side, duplicates the 9V input to 18V internally, what gives to the sound a nice headroom and awesome dynamics.
Firstly, you better select the right Gain for the Standard mode. That will adapt the impedance to get the best from your pickups.
Then, with the help of the active tone stack and the Mids Freq selector, you can make the sound to cut the mix, to your taste.
This is one of the things that was a tad complicated with Euphoria. To have a full bodied sound that cut the mix was a hard work, while the operation in the Dumbledore is so straight forward than in the Zendrive.
Once the sound is ok, you better roll the Level up to unitary gain, to better stack it with other pedals.
And, it's time to go for the More Channel. Switch it on and just roll that More control until you get a "second channel" with higher gain and creamier and thick distortion.
This double-channel approach sets up this pedal apart of any other Dumble-like pedal and, it's incredible useful. Thanks Weehbo for this feature!.
As we discussed above, there is no way to say: "Ok, that sounds has the Dumble amp of X", neither the contrary. So, I just can establish a comparison with other two well known D-sound pedals: Wampler Euphoria (smooth mode) and Hermida Audio Zendrive.
Also, take into account that sound is very personal so, any comment here is very related to my own taste / needs.
Respect of compression, I would say that the compression level of the sound (taming attacks) is somewhat between the lighter compression of the Euphoria and the harder compression of the Zendrive, what's fine for me.
Respect of the sound fingerprint, I would say that the sound is also between both but, closer to the Zendrive than to the Euphoria.
With Euphoria, as you roll in basses, to give some body to the sound, the distortion gain fattens and the sound goes blurry and not clearly distinguishable.
This is not the case of the Zendrive and, also not the case of the Dumbledore, which can get thicker and creamier without fattening the distortion grain.
The optional More channel is a very distinctive feature of this unit. While in Hermida Audio we should go for the Tiki Drive to get similar (but not equal results), in Euphoria we have not such a possibility. If memory doesn't fails, Dumkudo has that possibility also.
This is like to have a two-channels Dumble and helps a lot to be playing with a soft, sweet, warm and bluesy overdrive and, to step over to get a creamy bluesy overdrive.
As happens with the JCM Drive or the Plexdrive, the Dynamics switch its highly recommended for you to leave it in its 18V position. That's how the pedal's voice really shines and sounds like a real amp.
What I've noticed with all D-sounding pedals is that they tend to sound a bit dark and distant. Fortunately, the Dumbledore, with the help of the Mids Freq switch and a full active Tone Stack, allow you to tweak the sound until you can easily make it to cut the mix.
But, the attack taming is a bit too much for me, still.
I need to tweak the inner trimmer pots and see if this kind of behavior can be softened in any way.
Probably, the best take of the original Ford' sound is the Zendrive. If this is your cup, go ahead.
But the Dumbledore is second to none and, its wide tone possibilities allows you to tweak any kind of D-Sound and, remember it, it's a TWO CHANNEL unit, with outstanding dynamics!.
Well, there are around there lot of Youtube demos that go in detail with the features of this pedal so, I avoided to leave there just one more demo.
What I was really interested on is to check how this pedal could be integrated with the rest of the pedalboard (still under building) and, to check how well it stacks with other Weehbo pedals (JCM Drive and PlexDrive) and my new brand Strymon El Capistan.
I've tested this pedal, among all the rest, with some backing tracks, to be sure all them are doing the right work and can cut the mix with attitude. Here you have the results: