Gear talk for the GAS-afflicted.

REVIEW: Seymour Duncan Dirty Deeds Distortion – Done Dirt Cheap?

REVIEW: Seymour Duncan Dirty Deeds Distortion – Done Dirt Cheap?

Feb 25, 2015

First of all – yes, this is a Seymour Duncan effects pedal. That’s a thing these days. 

Second – as much as the name may suggest, no, this isn’t an AC/DC-style pedal. In fact, it couldn’t be further from the truth if you ask me.

A catchy name it may be, but this raging new box of rock coming out of Santa Barbara, CA is definitely not about Plexi or JTM-style bite. Instead, it serves up a thick, aggressive MOSFET-based drive (*whatever that means – tech dudes feel free to enlighten me) with extremely powerful active EQ controls.

Santa Barbara, Rock City

Okay, so there it is. The controls certainly aren’t rocket science. Straight off the bat you’ve got your main knobs controlling Level and Drive. Smaller dials control the active (+/- 12dB) Treble and Bass equalisation, while the midrange is purportedly tuned to a “sweet-spot” (we’ll be the judge of that thank you very much!). Functionally, the input and output jacks are located on TOP rather than on the side, allowing you just that smidge of extra room to squish your pedals next to each other, and maybe squeeze one more onto the board. On the back you’ll find a handy access door – you won’t have to worry about fumbling for a screwdriver in the middle of a gig if your batteries die! (PSA – everyone should really be using power supplies. I mean, who still uses batteries these days?? No, put your hands back down, it’s not something to be proud of…)

If you’re looking for a pedal to shape your sound, or affect subtle influences on your tone – best you look elsewhere. The straight up truth is that the Dirty Deeds is here for one reason and one reason only – balls to the wall ROCK. That being said though, it does clean up remarkably well, as you’ll hear in the demo. Like, really surprisingly so, considering how dirty it gets. I’m told that this “amp-like” sensitivity to dynamics is in part due to the MOSFET nature of the pedal. I will take the internet’s word on that one. Electronics and circuits make my brain go fuzzy.


Here is the demo – sorry, it’s not a particularly pretty or interesting video because I shot it just a few days before leaving for NAMM, but I think it gets the message across. See what you think!

If I had to choose a single word to describe the Dirty Deeds Distortion, it would be… thick. No matter how you set the EQ, the thickness and saturation of the midrange always seems to shine through. Whether you like that strong midrange will be up to personal preference – it’s doesn’t quite sit in the region of a Marshall or a Boogie but is something all its own.

Speaking of EQ – the Treble and Bass controls are insanely powerful. I’m not sure if this is actually true of the circuit design, but it feels to me as if the EQ controls are applied post-distortion, almost like a studio EQ. So the basic quality of the distortion tends to stay the same, but you can drastically increase its treble bite or bass punch by +/-12dB, giving you access to everything from beefy low end thump to chainsaw snarling treble.

I did however feel that the Dirty Deeds did best at big crunching chords and fat single note lines (absolutely fantastic for infinitely sustaining, screaming lead lines!), but when subjected to heavy palm muting, it started to cross over into fuzz territory with a slightly unsatisfying flub starting to creep into the low end.

Rock and Roll All Night!

Yes, I’ve been listening to a lot of KISS recently, if any of you picked up on the heading references. Now that we’ve got that embarrassing admission out of the way… what did I think of the SD DD D?

It gets an A for Alliteration, for starters.

I loved the thick, saturated tones that came screaming out of it… but personally, I’ve never been a huge fan of fuzz, so the distortion + fuzz hybrid feel was slightly lost on me. With that in mind I think I’ll call it 3.5 F*ck Yeahs! Solid effort that will put up a good fight with many other much more established pedals on the market, but the make or break moment will depend on whether you’re a player who expects a tight palm muted low end, or whether you revel in the loose thundering fuzz-adjacent goodness that the Dirty Deeds brings so judiciously.

Which side will you choose??

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