Guitar Overdrive Pedal Shootout :Danelectro Cool Cat Drive V2 Review

Part 4 of my Guitar Overdrive Pedal Shootout series. Review of the Danelectro Cool Cat Drive V2.

OCD Clone, Take 2….

Here’s the current state of play in my Guitar Overdrive Pedal Shootout.

Amp: Fender Blues Junior III

Guitar: Epiphone ES-335 PRO

Please checkout my  Music Gear Reviews for more info and background on the series.

You’re probably asking “Why bother with another OCD clone?”. Well two reasons. One, The Fulltone OCD is such a highly regarded pedal, famed for it’s ability to clean up and it’s wide range of gain. I still didn’t want to shell out big bucks on the real McCoy, but also didn’t want to give up on the format either. Two, as you can see from my review of the Danelectro Cool Cat Transparent Overdrive V2, I’m a big fan of the Cool Cat pedals, saw one going cheap (£25 new) and presumed it would integrate well with the Dano Boost.

First Impressions

 

First off, the Gold and Silver Danos on a pedalboard really do look great together! I’ve already gone into detail about the Danelectro Cool Cat build quality, control positioning and jack issue in my Danelectro Cool Cat Transparent Overdrive V2 Review , so I won’t repeat myself. However, we have no fiddly concentric bass/treble pot here, just a simple Gain Tone and Volume. It’s simpler on the inside too, in that all you get here is a Low-Fi switch and a trim pot controlling the input gain (more on these later).

Sounds

The Joyo Crunch Distortion came so close,but I just couldn’t ignore the almost on/off switch to mud as soon as you even touch the guitar volume. With the Danelecto Cool Cat Drive V2’s controls centered and a sigh of relief, none of that here! There’s a lot less gain here than both the Joyo Crunch Distortion and the Joyo Ultimate Drive but crucially more than the Electro-Harmonix East River Drive. In fact the range of gain here is just about perfect, in that I mainly had it 12’oclock. Giving me the option of more (or less) if need be. OCD style overdrive/distortion takes a bit of getting used to. It has a fiery ‘rumbling’ sort of backdrop to the whole thing, and no familiar mid-hump like the Tubescreamer type pedals.Still not sure if this type of drive was for me, I put it through it’s paces.

Why did I add the Danelectro Cool Cat Drive V2 to my pedalboard?

My second and final attempt at an OCD Clone sounded really promising at first, less dark and twitchy than the Joyo Ultimate Drive and a perfect match for my Danelectro Cool Cat Transparent Overdrive V2. It’s simpler operation made it a breeze to set up sounds, and after a while I started to experiment with the Low-Fi switch and Input Gain control……

Here’s the story. Similar to the Transparent Overdrive V1 (a clone of the Paul Cochrane Timmy), the Drive V1 is more of a direct clone (of the OCD) than the V2.  Although not stated in the manual, the Low-Fi switch set to ON gets you closest to the V1 tone, or in other words, closer to the OCD. With it engaged, you get more mids which leads to a punchier tone, distancing it further from the cloudy Joyo Ultimate Drive Review. The internal input gain pot gives you the ability to compress the tone (if backed off), or open it right up for maximum output and clarity, which was my preferred setting. All in all then, a whole lot of flexibility in a seemingly simple package.

IMG_20160402_110550

Danelecto Cool Cat Drive V2: Lo-Fi Switch and Input Gain Pot

 

Why did I take the Danelectro Cool Cat Drive V2 from my pedalboard

 

Although the Danelectro Coolcat Drive V2 fixes a lot of problems the Joyo Ultimate DriveElectro-Harmonix East River Drive and Joyo Crunch Distortion had, and even with the low-fi switch engaged and the internal gain maxed, the overdrive/distorted tone seemed to ‘distract’ from my base tone, rather than lift it to another level, almost to the point where I was turning the pedal off more and more because I just preferred my clean tone. The Danelectro Cool Cat Drive V2 adds dirt to your tone, not sweet overdrive or punchy distortion, more a lower gain, lo-fi ‘sludge’. It’s surprising how far removed from your clean tone it gets, given the modest levels of gain available. There’s just not enough oomph in the mids to give the pedal any ‘bark’ to your base clean tone. The drive just sort of cloaks the original tone in a disjointed way rather than integrating with it.

Conclusion

My least favourite pedal in the shootout so far in that the tone is just so uninspiring. To add insult to injury the position of the jack sockets means chaining these pedals with others is a pain too. The Danelectro Cool Cat Transparent Overdrive V2 gets away with it due to it’s flexibility and fabulous sounds, but I’m afraid I just can’t get a decent overdrive/distortion tone out of the Danelectro Cool Cat Drive V2 no matter how I set it up. It’s just too murky, under-powered and insipid, especially against the over-the-top dramatics of the Joyo Crunch Distortion.

At the end of the day, an OCD style of drive just isn’t for me, it’s neither natural enough or punchy enough. The search continues with The RAT 2!

 

The Competition

Here’s some other Fulltone OCD clones worth trying……..

%d bloggers like this: