Straddling the line between quality of components, building process, and price point is one of the most consequential decisions for any manufacturer of guitar pedals. High-end boutique companies will tell you they only hand-pick the best components and hand-solder them – and charge you an arm and a leg while at it – while mass producing-oriented companies will carefully evaluate costs and benefits in each step of the building process and figure out ways to produce a great sounding device out of more affordable parts put together in an assembly line.
California’s Deadbeat Sound is a rare example of an emerging stompbox builder choosing the latter path, which is probably the harder one, for a new kid on the block. The company doesn’t aim to create state of the art, hand-made boutique pedals, but, rather, solid, compact and great sounding alternative factory-built devices – and proudly makes that known: to convey this thought they coined the expression “broke-tique” – as to say: non-mainstream pedals for the musician on a dime (and isn’t that a condition affecting 99% of guitarists?).
This doesn’t mean that Deadbeat sound doesn’t put a lot of attention into the details: all their effects feature cool graphics and top-notch packaging.
It all started in 2017 with the Black Series, efficient effects that provide quality of sound and gig-worthy utility without breaking the bank (prices currently go from $60 to $65). Their next line was the Station multi-effect series featuring Echo, Reverb, and Modulation pedals in sleek, vintage enclosures that don’t take up too much pedalboard real estate.
The company maintains a small operation in California while outsourcing manufacturing to China. This allows them to offer tasty sounding effects at prices that are far below boutique levels, and actually puts them at a level where they can compete with giants like BOSS, Mooer and TC Electronics.
As the company grows, it’s planning to expand into creating synths and drum machines. Let’s take a look at their creation in the interactive galleries below (click on the thumbnails for videos).
The Black Series was the company’s first foray into the pedal world, providing quality effects at bedroom prices. The enclosure artwork is simplistic, retro, and perfectly fitting for the sounds these effects have to offer.
Looking to add a tape delay sound to your rig? This is a fat, warm analog delay with the lush taps that made analog echo famous. It can also do infinite repeats and self-oscillation, with delay times ranging from 140ms – 360ms. We added this pedal to the list of the best simple analog delays.
Playback is a simple looper in a compact enclosure. Transport controls allow you to record, play, or stop looping and a single volume knob controls the level of the loop with up to 10 minutes of recording time with unlimited overdubs.
Thank You is an homage to a classic 70s fuzz circuit with a familiar 3-knob control scheme. It rides the line between distortion and fuzz while maintaining articulation. The Tone knob has a usable range, being able to go from bright to dark, and the gain sounds are heavy without being too gated or indistinct.
While the name implies massive reverb sounds, the Void really has the shorter decay of a plate or small hall. It is true bypass and has controls only for the Mix level and Decay time. While most reverb pedals today offer a massive amount of tones, the Void is a simplistic design. It can’t do anything crazy, but the reverb sounds available are useful for a number of styles. The reverb sits right behind the notes, adding ambience without becoming too cloudy -even with the controls maxed out.
Sort of a hybrid modulator capable of flange, rotary, and vibrato sounds this is a mono analog chorus with controls over Depth, Speed, and Level. The circuit design makes up for the lack of a mix knob, but it might not be wet enough for some player’s tastes. If you’re looking for a versatile modulation effect that doesn’t break the bank it might be a (not wet) dream come true.
The Station Series are compact mono multi-effects that are easy to dial in as they feature a single rotary knob for selecting the type of effect, and 3 controls for setting the parameters. The enclosures have a vintage rack unit aesthetic, with a blackface enclosure and woodgrain on the edges.
Featuring the most effects of the series, there are 11 unique modulation and filter sounds available in this pedalboard-friendly unit. Find your perfect filter sound with 11 unique modulation effects including Tremolo, Vibrato, Chorus, Detune, Wah, Filter, Flanger, Tremolo/Flanger, Phaser, Rotary, and Ring.
All effects share the same Mix, Depth, and Speed controls with a rotary switch to select the effect. The only thing that could add to its versatility is an output volume control.
Whatever type of reverb you need, with 9 available settings the Reverberation Station has you covered. There are controls over the amount of Reverb and Decay, as well as a Color control for tone. All the standards are here, including more esoteric sounds like Mod, Reverse, and Lo-fi.
All the echo and delay you could want in one pedal, the Echolation Station includes Tape Echo, Tube Echo, Analog, Mod,Clean, Dynamic, Lo-Fi, Filter, and Reverse effects. There are controls for Delay, Time, and Feedback. A mix knob would be helpful, but considering the amount of sounds available it’s a fair tradeoff.
The newest pedal in the company’s lineup, it’s just what the name implies. It’s a 3-knob overdrive in a clear-face enclosure. It’s a Tubescreamer-style circuit that works on guitar, bass, and keyboards. The circuit tweak has a little less gain, less midrange pronunciation, and is a little more transparent. It’s not overly aggressive and it’s not supposed to be.