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Review: Black Cat - D&S

Black Cat - D&S


Utilizing a unique tone control never before seen on a Muff style fuzz. This control takes the circuit to all new places, levels of versatility, and is usable through out it's entire range. Never getting too shrill or mushy, seemingly because a hint of extra midrange lacking in most traditional Muff circuits. There have been a couple reissues of the D&S over the years. However, most of these were plagued by flimsy construction and sub par components. Especially noted is the Ibanez Sound Tank D&S. Enter the Black Cat D&S; Black Cat is known by guitarists and musicians the world over for producing unique effects. With a unique approach and many original ideas that cater to the need to simply make music. Especially known for their flagship unit, the venerable OD-1. Which despite it's name, is more of a fuzz than an overdrive, though it is capable of OD tones.


Not very long ago, per request of Black Cat's Japanese Distrubuter, Black Cat released the Roland Bee Baa based Bee Buzz fuzz. Building off this unit's success, the Japanese distributor had yet another request. A high quality reissue of the venerable Maxon D&S fuzz unit. Given that the market is flooded with Muff style circuits. It would take a unique circuit for Black Cat to delve into this market. It comes as a surprise that there isn't much to speak about as far as D&S based clones go. Given their reputation one would expect top notch components, a road worthy enclosure and construction. Did Black Cat deliver? A resounding yes, of course The controls consist of the Big Muff standard Volume, Tone, and Sustain. The pedal has the standard Black Cat logo printed on a seafoam green enclosure, with D&S printed below the true bypass footswitch. Per Black Cat standard, all of this is nicely enclosed in a very silky black little bag with a draw string. Given the large quantity of Muff styled pedals at Rogue Guitar Shop, I'm quite surprised there aren't many clones of this circuit floating around.


Being a huge fan of fuzzes of all kinds, I eagerly plugged the D&S into my warmed up amp. I choose my Strat styled guitar, as I tend to vastly prefer lower output single coils with fuzz. Starting with the Volume, Tone, and Sustain controls all at noon, I turn the pedal on. Immediately I am greeted with a familiar Rams Head-esque sound, with perhaps a bit more going on in the midrange area. The sound is crisp, but warm with pleasing response to picking dynamics and guitar volume control changes. The sound is much more open and yet overall less scooped than the average Muff, very cool. Guitar volume control around 5 or 6 on the neck pickup, I'm able to get some sweet bluesy tones. Guitar volume full up on the bridge, I can't help but want to play 70's rock riffs. Next I decide I'd like to go ahead and test the D&S's low gain capabilities. Would it mush out like most Big Muff styled circuits at low gain? Not at all, cutting the Sustain control below 9:00 I am met with some awesome OD-esque sounds. While usually having more gain/sustain control flexibility than perhaps a Fuzz Face, I still haven't experienced many Muffs with Sustain controls quite like this. Knocking the Volume control up to around 3:00 boosts the amp and adds to the OD type effect.


I suddenly had the urge to check out the D&S's higher gain capabilities. So I go ahead and knock the Sustain control to around 1:30. Obviously I'm met with a similar sound and gain levels as being set to noon. To sweep through the Tone control, first I set it all the way counter-clockwise. I'm met with a sound that is surprisingly not lacking all treble and clarity, with some beefed up low-mids. Turning the Tone control all the way clockwise yields a sound that is biting, but not ear piercing. Nor are we completely lacking any low end. Very cool, sort of how I remember the Ibanez D&S Sound Tank. Only producing a more dynamic and usable sound in my humble opinion. The Sustain control all the way up creates sounds perfect to play some Smashing Pumpkins riffage. Plenty of gain on tap, even for low output pickups. A sneakingly versatile fuzz device, with a very simple control set. So here we have it folks, a Muff styled pedal that sounds good in nearly every setting. You don't like Big Muffs? This may be the one for you. You love Big Muffs? You'll love the Black Cat D&S.

Final verdict:


A great pedal for someone who doesn't like Big Muffs but wants a Muff type sound. Can't think of anything negative to say, except that this pedal doesn't hide your playing. But that's really a good thing, if you ask me. If you want it, you know where to get it!


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