How will these versatile & somewhat whacky dual pedals stack up to the beloved pedals already on my board.
Overview & Cost: $119.99 for the Fireman and $149.99 for the Duotime
New from Nux at the tail end of 2020, their Verdugo Series pedals offer modern flexibility and versatility at a much lower price point than most dual pedals. I got my hands on the Fireman Dual Distortion and Duotime Delay Engine, and have not been disappointed. The Fireman is a dual “Brown Sound” distortion that is meant to sound like a saturated, cranked Marshall in the vein of EVH. It’s best features, aside from the tones, might be the switchable true bypass/buffer circuitry and the ability to switch between 9v/18v for more sensitive tonal controls at the higher power. The controls for each individual channel are your standard volume and gain pots, with the second channel having a bit of a volume boost built in. Then, where it gets really interesting is the global shaping features below. You can control the treble and bass (straightforward) but the presence and tight knobs make things interesting. These two knobs control a much smaller span of frequencies, the very top high (presence) and very low (tight) frequencies. Meaning you have more specific control over the tip of the normal bass/treble controls. These are great for dialing in subtle tones or really focusing your sound at higher gain settings.
Switching over the Duotime dual delay engine, there’s even more versatility to be found. You can switch between 5 classic delay types: verb, mod, digi, tape, and analog. Verb is a delay drenched in shimmer and plate reverb, that gives a 3-dimensional feel. Mod is a classic modulated delay, like the Ibanez DML algorithm. Digi is a modern digital delay sound with clarity and precision. Tape provides that classic analog tape delay that distorts and saturates with each feedback. Last but not least, analog is a classic bucket bridge-style delay with infinite feedback and warm response. All of these variations on delay can be further tweaked by the parameter knob, which will adjust the modulation of the mod and analog delays, the compression on the digital delay, the saturation of the tape delay, and the shimmery reverb of the verb delay. On top of all that, you get two sets of delay time and repeat controls. There’s even a built-in looper function in this never ending dual delay and you can control the tap tempo, in either bpm or milliseconds, using the second footswitch.
Review & Opinion
Diving into the Fireman first because it was an easier manual and control set to master. I really do like how pedalboard friendly this dual distortion is, it’s flexible, tweakable, and is capable of either covering two distinct dirt sounds or a rhythm and lead sounds in one reliable housing. It does take up the space of two pedals on your board, but it very nicely replaces two of them as well. The controls are incredibly useable too, which is nice because I usually can’t find any useful tones with the bass turned down past 11:00 in most dirt boxes. However, the ability to sculpt the very low end leads to some really cool sounds with the bass rolled off but the tight knob rolled up. For high gain players, this is incredibly useful for dialing in precise, distorted tones that don’t lose too much clarity as you shred or chug chords. The tone of the Fireman really colors your amp and guitar signal, turning even the quietest Jazzmaster into a beast, which some may like but I do prefer a distortion to more accentuate a guitar’s character than paint over it. Overall though, the cranked Marshall “Brown Sound” is fun, useable, and shapeable, perfect for a gigging musician or cash-strapped EVH enthusiast.
The Duotime dual delay engine is nothing short of inspiring in terms of tonal flexibility. I love having so many flavors of delay in one pedal without it sounding like a wash of lo-fi modeling amp delay settings. These really do sound good, each in their own independent way, and while you’re limiting in the tweaking and tone shaping by a single parameter knob, this is great for people who need a little bit of everything. The built-in looper on the Duotime is perfectly serviceable, but not super long, so don’t anticipate endless loops on this aquamarine box. Having a tap tempo function is awesome, but what really separates this pedal is whacky and weird sounds you can pull from two delays in tandem. You can delay your delay at all different speeds, creating some cool atmospherics. It can still function perfectly like a normal, single delay, but you can push it into something new and rhythmic with ease. Overall, it’s a fun pedal to play around with and I can see it being part of the songwriting process, even though it well suited for gigging too.
Final Conclusion & Ratings: Fireman & Duotime Dual Pedals Both Earn 7.5 out of 10
Originating from the same series, these pedals are designed to be very similar in terms of what they bring to the table. They are ultra versatile, well made, and capture iconic guitar tones at a nice price point. These aren’t just cheap, mini pedals like some previous Nux products, they are bonafide gig and studio ready. Likewise, they both earn the same score here because their best qualities and worst qualities are similar. The Fireman is a wonderful “Brown Sound” in a box, but it lacks some of the warmth and clarity of a real deal saturated Marshall. What it does offer is superb versatility and tone shaping, plus user friendly tech specs like a true bypass/buffer switch. The Duotime delay engine can also do so much for your tone, with a half dozen or so classic delay modes and parameters plus a built in looper. But like the Fireman it does a lot of things good but nothing great. Good enough to earn a high score and a place on lots of pedalboards thanks to functionality and value. Both are a lot of fun and deserve your time, in fact I think both would be wonderful for gigging guitarists when shows resume, as their tough as nails enclosures seem built to take a beating.
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