Danelectro Cool Cat V2

Monday, April 19, 2010| by Will Chen

Danelectro has long been a go-to brand for guitarists looking to maximize their purchasing power, offering full lines of guitars and effects hitting the sweet spot in terms of affordability and quality. Recently the company revamped three of the pedals in their Cool Cat line: the Drive, Transparent Overdrive, and Fuzz. All three pedals feature true bypass switching, solid metal enclosures, and some additional user tweakable controls hidden within the battery compartment.

CO-2 Drive

The Danelectro Cool Cat V2 Drive features volume, tone, and drive controls for general tone shaping and two hidden controls within the battery compartment which control input sensitivity and a lo-fi switch. Even without going under the hood, the tones from this fet driven pedal are simply fantastic, eliciting a wide range of tube-like grind ranging from subtle grit all the way to squashed harmonically rich drive. Tonally, this is a full range pedal with a nice and even response (vs the mid hump and truncated low end of Tubescreamer style overdrives). While the response of the pedal is gloriously colored, it is transparent enough to avoid homogenizing the tones from different guitars, letting their individual characteristics shine through. The input sensitivity control elevates the pedal to a whole other level, allowing incredible tailoring of the pedals overall response. With the sensitivity all the way down using lower output single coils, the high end cleans up significantly. Setting the gain drive to around noon or lower yields a “clean” overdrive with excellent clarity of attack, yet plenty of sustain. Sweetness! As the sensitivity is increased, the pedal starts compressing and mimics the sag of classic tube rectified amps admirably. And for those seeking massive sag, the lo-fi switch adds an additional amount of squash to the signal which is interactive with the gain control with maximum gain yielding maximum squash. I was equally impressed feeding the pedal humbuckers where it retained the bite of the bridge position and simply sang switching to the neck. Honestly, I had a hard time dialing in an unusable tone with the CO-2, but generally preferred the moderate to higher drive settings. There is plenty of volume on tap to push the front of your amp if desired and the tone control has a pretty wide sweep to accommodate pretty much any guitar I threw at it. The CO-2 Drive really is an absolute delight which I’d highly recommend to anyone looking for a general purpose overdrive that won’t break the bank.

CTO-2 Transparent Overdrive

The Danelectro CTO-2 Transparent Overdrive is a more niche pedal, offering clean boost to mild overdrive with a wide variety of voicing options. Volume, a dual pot with independent treble/bass controls, and gain provide the general tone sculpting but inside the battery compartment are four additional dip switches offering blue led clipping, red led clipping, JFET clipping, and a 6db gain boost. While all this sounds like a tweaker’s wet dream, in reality with the exception of the gain boost, the other switches are tonally fairly subtle. Per the marketing materials, with the gain at minimum and the volume at maximum, the pedal offers 6db of clean boost. In combination with the additional dip switchable boost, the pedal offers a whopping 12db of boost to absolutely pummel the front end of your amp. Dialing back the bass and pumping up the treble allows the pedal to function as a treble booster as well. And we haven’t even engaged the gain knob yet! As the name implies, the pedal’s response is uncolored allowing the character of your guitar to shine though at any setting. While Danelectro has labeled this pedal as an overdrive, in my most humble opinion, it’s really more of a boost pedal with an additional moderate drive circuit.

CF-2 Fuzz

Those who dig biting fuzz which slices through the mix like a razor will absolutely love the Danelectro CF-2 Fuzz. The pedal features volume, tone, and fuzz controls and, like the other V2 pedals, additional interior controls for red led clipping, greed led clipping, and output clipping. Unlike the Transparent Overdrive, the switches have a fairly strong impact on the character of the pedal smoothing out the overall tone and adding a compressed character to the fuzz. The additional clipping leds address the overly edgy character I dislike in many fuzz pedals, bringing a vintage sweetness which I thought was only attainable in higher end boutique pedals. I liked the tone with the additional clipping engaged so much that once engaged, they stayed engaged. Even so, the CF-2 is capable of a fairly wide range of fuzz textures which should satisfy both the casual fuzz fan to the enthusiast. That being said, it just can’t match the mammoth low end girth of a Big Muff. Kudos to Danelectro for building a versatile fuzz pedal in a market which champions over simplicity and niche functionality.

Overall, Danelectro has served up a pretty sweet trio of pedals with my favorite being the CO-2 Drive pedal. I really couldn’t dial in a bad tone and it will satisfy those seeking anything from subtle shades of dirt to glorious sagging sustain and everything in between.

Filed Under: Danelectro, Reviews