Written by Julian Williamson, Musician's Friend Staff Writer
Founded in 2012, Daredevil Pedals is a relatively new builder in the guitar-effects world, but its pedal lineup will surely make it a lasting one. With a broad offering of unique and classics-inspired effects circuits, the company offers hand-wired, U.S.-made pedals at prices generally reserved for imported, mass-produced varieties. So, it’s no wonder why several professional musicians are already in its stable—including Aerosmith’s Brad Whitford, and Matt Pike of High on Fire and Sleep.
But what is it really like to use a Daredevil Effects pedal?
To help me (and you) find out, the lovely folks at Daredevil loaned me not one, but five wonderful stomps—the Silver Solo boost, Logan Square Destroyer L.S.D. fuzz, Fearless distortion, Cocked and Fearless distortion and pseudo wah, and the Almighty Bass fuzz.
In short, they’re all great, with tons of awesome tones for a wide range of playing styles. But let’s take a closer look.
What Daredevil Pedals Have in Common
Some traits they all share include sturdy aluminum housings, surprisingly lightweight constructions, wonderfully simple controls, true-bypass design, 9V DC power requirements (battery or AC wall adapter), and the aforementioned hand-wired circuitry, assembled in Chicago.
One cool feature I noticed when I opened them up is that the power input and cable jacks are each mounted into the housing with a nut, separate from the circuit board. That means, if an input or power supply jack gets damaged or worn out, you can simply re-solder in a new one. In turn, repairs are fast and cheap, so you can get back to rocking with minimal downtime.
The Testing Rigs
I put them each through their paces using my trusty Gibson SG Standard with coil-splitting 498T (bridge) and 490R (neck) humbuckers played through a Peavey 6505 MH Micro 20W tube head, which fired out of an Orange PPC212-C 2x12 cab loaded with a pair of 12” Celestion Vintage 30 speakers. And, for the Almighty Bass, I used my trusty Fender P-Bass into a TC Electronic BG250 250 1x12” bass combo. For the guitar stuff, to get a wide range of sounds and responses, I played each pedal on both clean and medium-ish crunch tones, and each with full humbuckers and coil-splitting.
Silver Solo Boost Hands-On Review
The first under my foot was the Daredevil Silver Solo boost—a modern take on the legendary Rangemaster boost from the 1960s, which was heard on early Black Sabbath, Clapton, Queen and more. The Silver Solo builds upon its inspiration by giving it a tighter low end, more articulation and higher output.
The controls on the Silver Solo are beautifully simple, with just two knobs—Level and Range. The former is a volume/boost control, and the latter is an EQ knob that changes the boosted frequencies from full spectrum when it’s fully counter-clockwise, to a bright, treble boost when it’s spun clockwise.
In my playing, keeping the Range around 9 o’clock made for a meaty rhythm tone that you could leave on all day. It just takes your signal and adds more by punching the front of your amp in the teeth, without adding too much color. I especially liked the rich, classic-Marshall-esque, hard-rock sound of leaving it on with a crunch channel and full bridge humbucker.
However, moving the Range knob past noon on the Silver Solo definitely slides the EQ scale into the treble side. For me, the sweet spot for that Brian May effect was right around 2 o’clock. And I absolutely fell in love with the bluesy tone it gave me with a coil-split neck pickup when playing on my amp’s clean channel. It was warm with a solid midrange punch that sounded amazing.
Logan Square Destroyer L.S.D. Fuzz Hands-On Review
The second Daredevil on the block was the Logan Square Destroyer fuzz. It’s one of the few fuzz pedals I’ve encountered that can do gritty, vintage-style fuzz; smooth, buttery distortion; and utterly filthy doom tones—and do them all very well.
Like the Silver Solo, the L.S.D. has a two-knob layout—Level and Gain. The former lets you dial in the volume from silent to as loud as your amp’s settings will allow. But it’ll definitely add some boost with the pedal’s Level cranked to 10. And walking up the Gain control takes things from a little raspy to grunge-like distortion to thick, sludgy, wonderful filth.
Laid on top of a clean guitar tone, the Logan Square Destroyer is a totally capable standalone second channel. There’s more than enough gain and volume on tap to get a nasty rhythm sound over even the most mild-mannered of tones. But, stacked on a crunchy sound, it seemed happiest when I dialed back the gain a bit, pumped up the volume and used it as a lead boost to add warmth, compression and sustain.
Splitting the coils added definition, especially to the bass strings, and the sound was still meaty. But, with everything pinned, and full humbucker engaged, the sound was like the thickest, chunkiest peanut butter slowly pouring out of the speakers. I’m not a doom player, but I suddenly wanted to down-tune my guitar and get sludgy for days.
Fearless Distortion Hands-On Review
When you’re looking for a high-gain sound, there are two general categories for distortion pedals: ones that add an extra punch to your preamp distortion, and ones that have enough gain that they can operate as an external channel over a clean sound. The Daredevil Fearless Distortion can do both.
Once again, Daredevil made a hugely dynamic and versatile pedal with super-simple controls. The Volume knob takes your signal from silent to loud. The Distortion control takes things from bluesy and crunchy to massive and destructive (in a good way). And the Hi/Lo switch dictates the impact of the Distortion knob and changes the voicing.
When in the “Lo” position with the Distortion rolled back, the Fearless can be used to add some warmth and a little bite to a clean channel. Or, with the same settings, it can add a buttery boost to a crunch tone. When you start rolling on the Distortion, it’ll deliver a sweet, crunchy, hard-rock sound over a clean signal. (It’s sort of a more articulate version of the L.S.D. fuzz mentioned above.) And when I switched my amp to the crunch channel, it was a tone somewhere between a hot-rodded Marshall and a high-gain Orange amp.
With the “Hi” switch engaged, this pedal becomes an entirely different beast. It sounds absolutely huge, and has more than enough gain on tap for any needs. When I rolled back the Distortion, it took my clean tone from crystalline to classic/hard rock. When I laid on the Distortion, things got real heavy and aggressive. Over my crunch demo tone, it made for a great, high-gain lead boost that added some thickness in all the right places.
I was surprised at the voicing with the Fearless. As someone whose go-to tone is classic thrash metal, the Fearless threw me off a bit because it doesn’t try to deliver the usual tight gain and low end for high-speed palm muting. No, it’s designed to rule the tonal spectrum with big, loose sound that’s great for hard rock, Sunset Strip metal, doom riffage and so much more.
Cocked and Fearless Hands-On Review
The Daredevil Cocked and Fearless is the oddball of the lineup. It’s two very different pedals in one housing—the excellent Fearless distortion mentioned above, and Daredevil’s Atomic Cock wah pedal. The Fearless side is exactly the same as the standalone version. The Cocked side, however, is an entirely different kind of bird.
It’s a little hard to wrap your head around, but the Cocked circuit is a wah pedal, except without the sweeping foot control. For those times when you just want a specific spot of your wah sweep, whether to add atmosphere or as a lead boost, this pedal takes out all of the guesswork of hitting that mark every time. It’s equal parts weird and awesome, and I dig it.
There are two control knobs—Sweep and Blend. The Sweep knob is, essentially, the heel-toe range of a traditional wah pedal. Far to the left sounds like a wah that’s barely engaged, with a squished, bass-heavy sound. All the way up, it sounds like a toe-down wah that’s pushing the high frequencies hard. And the Blend knob allows you to fine-tune how much of the wah signal you let through. There’s also an on/off footswitch for the wah.
This is the pedal I spent the most time tweaking, but in a good way. I kept wanting to hear how the massively versatile Fearless distortion would interact with different spots of the Sweep control, and how much Blend I could layer in before it got too crazy. However, I kept finding myself with a thick, meaty distortion and jumping on the wah around 3 o’clock on the Sweep range for solos that screamed with some extra high mids.
I won’t lie. It’s hard to get used to playing a wah pedal that’s strictly on/off, and not even an auto-wah. But once you can get your head around the concept, it opens up some really interesting options for filtering your signal.
I just really wish the Cocked and Fearless sides worked totally independently. As it’s designed, the Cocked side only works when the Fearless one is active, so you can’t use the expressionless wah on a clean tone. But there’s still plenty to enjoy with this twofer.
Almighty Bass Fuzz Hands-On Review
Admittedly, I don’t play a ton of bass—and even less with bass effects. Daredevil’s Almighty Bass fuzz pedal gave me a reason to knock the dust off my P-Bass. And I’m thankful for that because, holy hell, does this pedal sound absolutely nasty.
The simple control set consists of Volume, Tone and Drive. The Volume knob is pretty self-explanatory. Tone contours between a scooped-mids EQ when turned counter-clockwise, and full range with boosted upper mids when turned clockwise. And the Drive knob makes things go from gritty to disgusting (again, in a good way).
While the lower levels of the Gain knob can sound like a cranked tube amp, the majority of distortion on this pedal is best described as ripping and biting. There’s a thick, fuzzy foundation with higher-frequency teeth. And with the Gain past roughly 1 o’clock, I found that what you lose in definition, you more than make up for in filth.
Each of these pedals has a level control that, when turned up, gave a slight extra punch to the front of my tube head. However, the volume increase of the Almighty Bass on my clean BG250 literally made me jump when I clicked the bypass off. Couple that with how absolutely massive this thing makes your bass sound, it’s a great extra channel for when you need to get gritty.
After getting dirty on the bass for a while, I plugged the Almighty Bass into my guitar testing rig, and was fairly pleased with the results. Of course, most of the colossal low end was gone, but the fuzzy goodness was all there.
With the guitar, I preferred to keep the gain dialed back a little bit, as the bite would jump through a little too hard for me. And my sweet spot on the Tone knob was right around 3 o’clock, so I could keep some solid definition with fast power-chord playing.
Overall, I really, genuinely enjoyed everything I played (and I’m not just saying that). They’re not what I would normally gravitate to for effects, but getting to play them all was a treat. For players who are always chasing that thick, gritty tone, this lineup from Daredevil Pedals is hard to beat. They’re all extremely well built, super easy to use and sound awesome. Any player will be happy with one (or more) of these in their rig. Now, go check them out for yourself.