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Catalinbread Dirty Little Secret MKII FX Pedal

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Product Details

  • Shipping Information: View shipping rates and policies
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #110,935 in Musical Instruments (See Top 100 in Musical Instruments)
  • Date first available at Amazon.com: August 8, 2011

Product Description

The Dirty Little Secret MkII (DLS MkII) was designed to be the secret weapon in your tone arsenal. Want to get cranked amp tones at bedroom rocker levels? Playing gigs but have to use whatever amp is provided as the backline? Like your clean amp sound but don't care for its overdrive channel? Enter the Dirty Little Secret! The DLS MkII is an overdrive pedal designed to bring you the sound and response of a '70s-era Marshall amplifier. It, like other pedals in our "amp drive" range of pedals, is designed to be a "foundation" overdrive pedal - it is your "always on" pedal that forms the core of your guitar sound which you can enhance and embellish by adding boosters, fuzzes, filters, and other overdrives in front of it - just like you would in front of a real amp. Why a MkII? Well, we've learned a lot since we introduced the original Dirty Little Secret in early 2009! Through our other development efforts we've picked up a bunch of new ideas and maybe, just maybe, our ears have gotten even sharper. The resulting circuit is a combination of key circuit elements from the actual Marshall pre-amp, tuned for a jFET pedal format in conjunction with very careful parts selection. Every capacitor and resistor in the circuit was carefully scrutinized not only by value but by type to get the desired end result. A lot of time was spent tuning the circuit to stack well with other pedals, especially other gain pedals pushing the DLS MkII. We've taken out the Rock/Rawk switch, and have added a two knob tone enhancer. Presence controls the high treble frequencies. It has been carefully voiced to give you useful tones from minimum all the way to maximum, unlike some other pedals where the tone controls only have a narrow sweet spot. The best way to utilize this control is to start at minimum and then turn it up until you get the amount of presence you need to cut through the band. Fullness controls the low, "cab thump" frequencies.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By StormJH1 on November 6, 2012
Catalinbread is a small, charming boutique pedal manufacturer out of Oregon known for making well-crafted and creative pedals that often prove to be quite polarizing. While the Dirty Little Secret is by no means a perfect pedal (or even a standalone "Marshall in a box"), I still think that it is good at what it does, and that most of the critics of this pedal fundamentally misunderstand how use it.

Misconception #1: The DLS is an "overdrive pedal".
While this is not completely inaccurate, it isn't terribly accurate either. Yes, the two controls (Master and Pre-amp) allow you to dial in an overdriven sound, but that is the primary function of the DLS. The DLS is one of 6 "foundation" pedals manufactured by Catalinbread. Others inlcude the CB30 (Vox AC30) and Formula No. 5 (Fender Tweed amp). The purpose of the pedal is to model the tone of your amplifier and give a sound similar to a Marshall stack with 4x12 cabinets. Yes, you can get quite a bit of overdrive by turning up the pre-amp, but the intended use of the DLS is to "stack" it with other distortion pedals and put the DLS at the end of your effects chain. In this arrangement, the DLS substitutes for the controls on your amplifier. It controls the volume and EQ of the tone, while the distortion pedal you choose in front of it colors the tone with more fuzz, saturation, or whatever that pedal does. Pushing the DLS even with just a Tubescreamer actually gives it quite a bit more character and sustain.

Misconception #2: The DLS is too bright-sounding
If the DLS were truly "bright" or "harsh", I would be at the front of the line criticizing it. But I don't think this is the case. The Presence control isn't as extreme as a Tone control. If you set it at or near "0" it won't sound completely muffled.
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By Rick Gordon on November 9, 2014
Verified Purchase
I've been using guitar effects for over 35 years, professionally, and can tell you hands down, this is what a distortion pedal is supposed to sound like. I just got finished selling some gear I haven't used in a long time, finding that I owned some 17 overdrive/distortion pedals. This may sound a bit over the top, but is really a normal thing when you play on a lot of recording sessions - you acquire various brands, sometimes from endorsement deals, sometimes because you see a great demo and know you simply have to have that sound in your arsenal. I sold around 7 of them, but even though it was for a very good purpose ( a great new amp) I wish I could have kept at least 5 of them. The point being, they were all worthwhile pedals, and on certain songs each one would have been great. But you have to settle for two or three pedals (unless you're a touring player with endorsements out the wazoo) at most, to represent your own distorted sound(s) if you're like most working players and don't have roadies to carry your stuff for you.

Funny how some pedals that have sounded indispensable at one time, have become much less so over the years, as newer, better ones usurp them. There are literally hundreds of boutique effects pedal manufacturers today. A great many of them are making excellent products and it's not easy or cheap(!) to find what stands out from the others, without doing a lot of research. So I did some homework and kept coming across the same name for the past two years - Catlinbread's "Dirty Little Secret."

Catlinbread's "Dirty Little Secret" pedals, versions I II and III are all hailed as excellent dirt boxes by discriminating players with good ears.
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I'm a big fan of some Catalinbread pedals -- the Naga Viper and Octapussy are both great -- but this one doesn't do anything for me. I bought it around the same time as the Naga Viper and found that it just doesn't have any real Marshall character to it (even paired with the Naga Viper, which it is intended to be). The overall sound is kind of flat and has a noticeable lack of mid- or low-range. It doesn't have any particular grit or crunch to the sound either. Instead of EQ knobs, it has "Fullness" and "Presence", but neither seems to add any real guts to the sound no matter what position I've tried.

Compared to my Cmatmods Super Signa Drive (which costs less and does much more), it just has no dynamic punch. Plus, as a one-trick pony it costs far more than can be justified for what it is. I know a lot of people have given high marks to the DLS, but I would strongly recommend you try before you buy, and compare it to some others in person. I was very disappointed.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By James Beavers on July 17, 2012
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Meh. The sound is like a parody of a Marshall amp or something. It's okay, and I kind of like it. It's pretty good for feeding fuzzes and other efx in front of.
Thing is, it's all treble and hi-midrange. The description says something about "thumping cabinet bass" or something...I'll let you know when there's any bass at all in this box.
I added an extra point because it's purple.
I'll start a war with this, but I was shocked to find that my Boss Power Stack pedal sounds much rounder, and emulates a Marshall stack much better than this does.
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