Friday, August 15, 2008

Review: Danelectro Fab Echo pedal


First of all, this pedal sells for $14.99, about a tenth what you would expect to pay for a decent delay pedal. That, and a smattering of positive reviews from guitar players got my attention.

The Fab Echo is not long on features, of course. But it does one thing rather well… it has a nice warm slap-back that works well for harp.

Harp players argue constantly about which delay pedal is best: Analog or digital? Maxxon, Ibanez, Boss, or Digitech? If you are a Chicago-style blues player – if you lust after Little Walter’s tone – all those delay pedals have way more features than you will ever need. What sounds good for traditional amped blues harp is a touch of greasy slap-back echo. That’s all.

And that’s where the Danelectro Fab Echo comes in. It has two controls, Repeat and Mix. The repeat knob controls the number of echos, with a single echo at the minimum position. That is what we want for harp. The other knob controls the output mix of dry and wet signals, from all clean to all echo. Essentially, this is s a one-knob pedal for harp players.

What you pay all the extra money for in other delay pedals is the Delay Time control, which is conspicuously missing from the Dano Fab Echo. But if you only use one echo – a “slap-back” – then the lack of a Delay Time control is pretty much meaningless.

I recorded three very brief sound clips to give you a basic idea of how the Dano Fab Echo pedal sounds for blues harp. The first clip has the Repeats control at the minimum (one slap) and the Mix control at the max (all echo, no clean). This clearly illustrates the delay time built into the pedal, but you sure would not want to use it this way.

Clip 1

The next clip has a similar riff, with the only change being the Mix control is at 50 percent. The pedal sounds best to me at this setting

Clip 2

For reference, here is a very short clip with the pedal switched off.

Clip 3

How do you think the Dano pedal sounds? For its price and simplicity I think it sounds good, but lately I have preferred playing dry… no reverb or delay at all. But, Crikey! For chump change you can have a usable no-frills slap-back pedal in your bag of tricks. At the very least it makes a great back-up if your fancy delay pedal (most of whose features you never use) ever craps out.

Observations:

This pedal is made of plastic, but it is hefty and feels solid. The jacks are soldered onto the circuit board but don’t feel loose or cheesy. Product support at Danelectro is known to be pretty much non-existent, but if it breaks, what the heck. Just buy another one.

This pedal is not noticeably noisy. The pilot LED is a brilliant blue. The controls are a little confusing at first because they face away from you as you look at the pedal. It has a 9V power connector so you can use a common power adaptor instead of hassling with batteries.

I ordered it on a Monday evening from Musicians Friend online, and it arrived at my house in Denver via USPS express mail on Thursday morning.


Test Notes:

I used a OneSpot adaptor to power the Dano pedal. The amp was a vintage
Masco ME-18 and 2x10 cab. The recorder was a Zoom H4. Instead of mic’ing the amp, I used the H&K Red Box Pro DI to avoid room effects. The harp mic was a Peavey H5 Cherry bomb with Shure CM element. The harp was a Hohner Marine Band Deluxe in the key of B-flat.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

love that amp.

Rick Davis said...

Me too.

Isaac Ullah said...

Hey Bro, I made a video on YouTube showing the results of a simple and cheap modification of this pedal. Basically I added a delay time control, and I opened up the bottom end by swtching out the input decoupling cap... very easy: it took ~1/2 an hour and cost all of like $2, and greatly imporved the utility of this thing. Check out the vid: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=It8WOGPxOoQ

Cheers,

Isaac

Rick Davis said...

Hey Isaac-

I saw your vid on YouTube. Very impressive! Thanks for bringing it to the attention of my readers.

Anonymous said...

I'm a guitar player and have the same feeling about it - I only need a little slap back for some rockabilly style sometimes so this works great. The only thing you need to add is you must get external power. First time out the new battery died in the third set - it just sucks power (probably from the ridiculously bright blue light). But it sounds great.