Hands-On Review:Seymour Duncan Twin Tube Blue, Double Back Compressor, and Déjà Vu Delay
Three powerful new additions to the SFX family
By Ara Ajizian
Musician’s Friend Staff Writer
Seymour Duncan knows a thing or two about great tone. Given the success of their pickups, it seems natural that they would continue down the signal chain with a line of stompboxes. Already boasting eight pedals in the SFX Series, Seymour Duncan has introduced three new pedals to the line: the SFX-09 Twin Tube Blue, SFX-10 Déjà Vu Tap Delay, and the SFX-11 Double Back Compressor. Lucky for me, I received all the pedals in the SFX line to demo!
Before diving into the newest entries, let's take a look at their predecessors. The first SFX pedal was designed to enhance pickups (of course). Simple yet effective, the SFX-01 Pickup Booster increases the gain of passive pickups with a 6-25dB clean-gain boost. The Resonance switch cuts the resonant peak of single-coil pickups for more humbucker-like fatness. It's a great clean boost for players who are happy with their sound, but desire a little more gain at the front of the chain or some more tonal options out of their axe.
The SFX-07 Shape Shifter Tremolo has all the warm, warbly sounds of a vintage tube amp's tremolo, but adds the convenience of a digital tap tempo with a mode for changing the tap-to-note ratio. With its Depth, Shape, and Wave controls, it goes from swampy CCR-style tremolo to choppy helicopter effects with ease.
The Twin Tube Classic and Twin Tube Mayhem are a duo of boutique-quality preamps using subminiature tubes and a high-voltage power supply for the kind of creamy, warm overdrives that can only come from tube circuitry. The two-channel Twin Tube Classic brims with classic rock tones courtesy of its two 6021 dual-triode tubes. From rich, round clean to pure rock grit, the Twin Tube Classic is ideal for the rock player who isn't looking for screaming high gain but still wants plenty of options. Each channel has Gain and Volume controls, and there's a two-band EQ for fine-tuning.
If you are looking to melt some faces, the SFX-04 Twin Tube Mayhem uses 6205 pentode tubes in conjunction with a discrete Class A input stage for incredible gain that will please any metalhead. The Mayhem has a three-band EQ in addition to Gain and Volume controls, and a selectable 4dB/8dB boost. A three-way switch lets you scoop the mids, allowing you to go from classic metal to the darkest depths of modern heavy music with ease, all with the response and picking dynamics that only tubes can provide.
Bassists will want to check out the SFX-06 Paranormal DI. Not only is it an effective DI box, it has an active three-band EQ optimized for bass, and a Slap Contour switch for complete control over your sound. It's basically a super DI box, giving you the power to shape your sound with active electronics if you have passive pickups on your bass.
Three unique overdrive/distortions—Tweak Fuzz (SFX-02), Lava Box (SFX-05), and Power Grid (SFX-08)—give guitarists plenty of options for adding anything from Stones-like crunch to saturated, high-gain sustain.
Tweak Fuzz has simple, boutique-style controls for Volume and Gain, as well as the six-position Tweak knob. This control gives you six presets to work with, each having a different voicing in the low end. It's a great-sounding fuzz with loads of vintage flavors, and it sounded terrific with both bass and guitar.
The Lava Box is a dynamic and responsive MOSFET overdrive that works splendidly in front of a tube amp. With a three-knob control set similar to the Tweak Fuzz, it's easy to find the sound you're looking for. It worked really well with the volume controls on my guitar, allowing me to do a lot of tweaking without having to constantly adjust the pedal. The six-position Rumble control provides a bass roll-off so you can fine-tune to your pickups.
The Power Grid is an all-out, solid state distortion box. Though packed with power (almost 100dB of gain!), it's easily managed and shaped, thanks to its multi-element gain/volume control system and three-band EQ. If you're a player who needs a "do anything" type of distortion box, the Power Grid is for you.
Make room on your pedalboard
New to the series is the SFX-09 Double Back Compressor. This unique take on a classic compressor does a wonderful job adding punch and sustain without compromising the tone of your rig. There are Volume, Attack, and Sustain knobs, as well as a three-position frequency filter. What really makes it stand out from other compressors is the Double Back control, which blends your uncompressed signal with the compressed one. This preserves the feel of your playing while adding sustain. You get all the benefits of focused compression without losing the natural sound of your attack.
Also new is the SFX-10 Déjà Vu Tap Delay. Truly revolutionary, the Déjà Vu incorporates a number of modern design elements, namely the ability to blend a pristine digital delay circuit with the warmth of real analog, bucket brigade delay. But the innovations don't stop there; the Déjà Vu's two inserts can each be used with a standard volume pedal, giving you expression-pedal control over the wet/dry mix and Feedback controls. The Wet insert also allows looping an external effect through the delay circuit—hook up a phaser, flanger, overdrive, or any other effect for even more sonic experimentation. A tap tempo with a bright red LED makes it easy to time the effect to any song, and there are simple switches for selecting true bypass/trailing repeats and ratio/delay time modes. If all that wasn't comprehensive enough, the Déjà Vu can also run in stereo, and has onboard modulation for adding chorus effects.
Rounding out the new additions is the SFX-11 Twin Tube Blue. Using two micro 6111 dual-triode tubes, which are similar in tone to a 12AU7, the Twin Tube Blue delivers sounds perfect for blues players. Like the Twin Tube Classic, it has two channels and a two-band EQ. The difference is that the Blue is gained-down a bit, giving a hefty dose of overdrive when needed, but very dynamic and easy to control. The Rhythm channel filled out my single-coil sound, but maintained and even accentuated its bright overtones. The Lead channel runs a bit hotter, and is perfect for big, "Texas Flood"-style leads.
Seymour Duncan's SFX stompboxes have all the features guitarists expect from good effects—true bypass, effective controls, sturdy casings, high-quality components, and much more. Like the others in the series, the newest SFX pedals bring their own original twist to classic effects. As they've done with their pickups for so long, Seymour Duncan continues to raise the bar for fine guitar and bass tone.
Features & Specs
SFX-09 Double Back Compressor:
- Low noise, low distortion
- Simple, intuitive controls
- Blends compressed/uncompressed signals
- Switchable frequency filter
SFX-10 Déjà Vu Tap Delay:
- Blendable analog/digital delay circuits
- Tap tempo
- Dual-function wet out/insert
- Selectable true bypass/trailing repeats
- Onboard chorus/flange
- Stereo outs
SFX-11 Twin Tube Blue:
- 2 - 6111 dual-triode tubes
- 2-band EQ
- 2 channels
- Voiced for blues styles