Dunlop JC95 Cry Baby Wah and DVP1 Volume Pedal, MXR Micro Chorus and Micro Flanger
Dunlop Manufacturing, jimdunlop.com
JC95 Jerry Cantrell Signature Cry Baby wah $264.99; DVP1 volume pedal, $169.99; MXR Micro Chorus, $139.99; MXR Micro Flanger, $154.99
All of these effects are solid workhorses that gigging musicians will rely on for years onstage and in the studio, yet they’re priced low enough for players in garage bands to afford.
Because Jim Dunlop makes such a wide variety of pedals sold under different brand names, it’s easy to forget that the company is one of today’s leading effect pedal manufacturers, offering a full selection of pro-quality, moderately priced effects. In addition to the all-time best-selling Cry Baby wah pedal, Dunlop makes the beloved MXR line of stomp boxes (since 1987) and in 2008 resurrected the Way Huge brand. Currently, Dunlop offers more than 70 effect pedals, including the Jimi Hendrix Authentic Analog Pedal Series, the original Heil Talk Box, various Custom Audio Electronics effects developed by Bob Bradshaw, and numerous artist signature pedals.
Four new pedals from Dunlop—the JC95 Jerry Cantrell Signature Cry Baby wah, Dunlop DVP1 Volume Pedal, and reissues of the MXR M148 Micro Chorus and M152 Micro Flanger—showcase the breadth of the company’s current offerings. All of these effects are solid workhorses that gigging musicians will rely on for years onstage and in the studio, yet they’re priced low enough for players in garage bands to afford.
The JC95 Jerry Cantrell Signature Cry Baby wah is the eighth artist and 15th overall wah pedal in the current Cry Baby line. Like Dunlop’s other artist signature Cry Baby wahs, it starts out with the familiar Cry Baby chassis but adds a few unique modifications that give it its own distinctive voice. The Cantrell Cry Baby’s frequency sweep is more narrowly focused in the midrange (approximately 320Hz to 1,270kHz) than an original Cry Baby, although you can increase the upper-midrange response of the pedal’s toe-down position up to 2,070Hz with an adjustable Fine Tune knob. The Cantrell wah looks as unique as it sounds, with an ultra-cool distressed-brass finish and Alice in Chains star logo embossed in the tread. It can be powered by either a single nine-volt battery or an optional AC adapter.
With the DVP1, Dunlop has managed to spice up the ordinary, ho-hum volume pedal. Part of the DVP1’s appeal is its rugged, industrial-strength styling, from its curvaceous, shiny aluminum chassis to its knobby nonslip tread, which looks like the treads of an off-road tire. Even cooler is its easily accessible tension-adjustment screw, which allows you to make the pedal’s action as tight or loose as you want. In addition to the requisite input and output jacks, the DVP1 includes a tuner output to send the guitar’s signal to a tuner, allowing you to tune up with the volume all the way off. The DVP1 Volume Pedal also features Dunlop’s patent-pending Steel Band Drive assembly. Unlike other pedals that use twine—which can break easily and stretches over time—the Steel Band Drive is stable, and Dunlop claims it will last to over three million cycles, well beyond a lifetime of use. Should it fail, it can easily be replaced by the user, no soldering required. Replacement kits will be available, as will different pot values and types, including for active basses acoustic/piezo instruments, and others.
The M148 Micro Chorus and M152 Micro Flanger are accurate reproductions of original MXR pedals from the early Eighties but with a few welcome modern upgrades, like true-bypass circuitry, on/off LEDs and AC adapter jacks. Both pedals are housed in small Phase 90–style boxes and feature all-analog circuitry, including bucket-brigade integrated circuits that provide thick, warm, rich tones, with no perceptible noise. The Micro Chorus features only one knob for controlling rate, while the Micro Flanger offers rate and regeneration knobs.
With its perfectly focused midrange sweep, the JC95 Cantrell Signature wah hits the ideal sweet spot for wah-stomping rockers, with no flabby bass mud (and the volume loss that comes with that) or ear-stinging piercing highs (like that scratchy “Theme from Shaft” wacka-wacka funk). This wah gives you throaty, expressive vocal sounds that work exceptionally well for hard-rocking solos, and it always keep your guitar’s tone big and beefy. I’d recommend painting a stripe on the knurled brass Fine Tune knob to accurately replicate tone settings, unless you always plan on setting the knob all the way on or off.
The volume pedal’s action is smoother than a Billy Dee Williams pickup line. Loosening the action with the tension-adjustment screw makes it easy to perform fast swells; tightening it allows you to perfectly hold a desired “in-between” level, with no slippage. This is a great feature, one that Dunlop also incorporated on the ZW45 Zakk Wylde Signature Cry Baby. I’d love to see it on future Cry Babys as well.
The MXR Micro Chorus and Micro Flanger produce a great range of “best-of” chorus and flanging effects with noise-free sound. The Micro Chorus is already preset to the perfect depth setting, and by adjusting the rate control you can dial in a wide variety of tones, including slow swirls, tight doubling and warbling rotating-speaker effects. The Micro Flanger provides a good variety of flanger effects, ranging from slowly evolving sweeps to subtle jet effects to thick, chorus-like tones and warbling UniVibe swirls. The Micro Flanger doesn’t create the wild, hollow, metallic tubular tones or deep 747 swooshes that its big brother, the M117R, can, but if you prefer solid, no-nonsense flanging effects, it’s a great bargain.
THE BOTTOM LINE
All four new Dunlop pedals are ruggedly built, sound great and perform essential tasks. All are pro-quality effects that you’ll see in many pros’ rigs, yet they’re so affordably priced that you’re just as likely to see them in action at your local dive bar.
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