The Gunslinger; its name evokes images of a grizzly outlaw with an itchy trigger finger and penchant for six shooters and midday duels. However, the pedal lends itself more to the image of a secret agent gone rogue; slick, smooth, calculated and cool to the touch, with a bit of a wild side and self-destructiveness thrown in to keep things interesting.
The Gunslinger is a MOSFET based distortion by DOD, a subsidiary of DigiTech. FETs are heralded among audio buffs, guitarists, and engineers as having the closest harmonic response to the hallowed vacuum tube, which means it distorts in a more pleasing way than other components do. Many guitar companies have caught on to the use of FETs in their products to achieve “amp-like tones” in one box. The Gunslinger is one of those products that promises that.
The pedal is housed in a beautiful smooth metal enclosure. The knobs are big, and the footswitch is sturdy and responsive, and it looks very enticing against the printed black graphics. It’s a minimalist design, which fits well with the aesthetics of the pedal. The LED isn’t so bright that you feel like there’s solar flare coming off your pedal board. In hand, this pedal has some nice weight to it, and is built like a proverbial tank. It can easily withstand being thrown in a bag and tossed around, and still perform just fine when you need it to.
The character of the pedal is unmistakably modern, almost like a cross between a Mesa Boogie and a Marshall. It’s tailored for more high-gain and modern players, so no vintage tones are to be found. Upon setting everything at 12 o’clock, and stomping it on, I was somewhat disappointed. The sound was very nasal and compressed, with the midrange taking center stage. The Strat I played it on is fairly mid-scooped, and the Laney Cub amp I use has midrange to compensate, so my clean tone is well-balanced. While most pedals I own enhance the tone I already have, this pedal stole all the dynamics and clarity that I’m used to and replaced it with its own character. Fiddling with the EQ settings, I turned the bass all the way up and the treble to about 1 o’clock. With a Strat on the neck pickup, I got what sounded like a hot-rodded Fender Bassman, with a modern sheen and compression at low gain, which put a big grin on my face. At higher-gain settings on my coil-tapped D. Allen Echoes Strat bridge, the distortion was tightly reined in, and the pedal was dead silent. Everything about this pedal is tightly controlled. Its dynamics, harmonic content, EQ curve, and even its feedback are all kept on a tight leash, even when the Volume control was dialed back. The pedal wants you to play a certain way, and sound a certain way. It doesn’t feel like an extension of one’s playing, amp, and guitar, but a blanket thrown over the usual style and tone. I feel like this pedal is having an identity crisis; it wants to be tubey and dynamic like an overdrive, but also modern and compressed like a distortion. In my opinion, this pedal is trying to be two things it’s not, but it has a tone all of its own.
The Gunslinger is tailored for a specific style and player. If you like compressed, controlled, Mesa Boogie-like tones with loads of midrange grunt, and you want to do it without blowing the windows out of your house, this pedal was made for you. If you want a more open and clear tone, or a wild and untamed vintage-flavored tone, you will have to look elsewhere to get your fix.
What we like: Works well with small home setups and live situations. Present and sculpted midrange to cut through the mix. Easy to play, quiet.
Concerns: Sounds nasal at many settings, too much midrange steals tonality from single coil pickups. Muddy sounding at low and mid gain settings.