I’ve been both bitten and smitten by the glass bug way too many times to count. I spend countless hours awake at night drooling and feverishly researching what could possibly be the next be-all-end-all of tone, usually within the fit and form of my favorite glass buddies. They unassumingly hide, tucked into my amp heads and my various pedals, heating up my studio on cold nights and glowing seductively behind the crevices.
My love for tubes is bordering on obsessive, and I can’t necessarily quantify what I love about them so much. Thankfully, this lust for tubeage leads me in all directions, and on one of my late night searchings I found a very promising piece of tube-powered equipment by the name of the Double Gun, hailing from New York based pedal outfit TSW Pedals.
The Double Gun is a dual-tube pedal, which according to Mr. Trevor S. Wong (the builder of these fine devices) is based on the preamp section of a Trainwreck Express, with a little bit of his own flavorings mixed in. A tall order indeed, but does it deliver? Let’s find out.
The Double Gun has two channels: a Boost channel and a Drive channel, with both utilizing two 12AX7 tubes. The Boost also shares a switch with the effect engage, which can break the deal for those wanting just drive without boost. I find personally that having independent channels makes it easier to stack pedals in or out, increasing the versatility of the design for more creative uses. However, this is only a minor qualm and one of my own personal biases, so take that as you will.
The sounds coming out of the Double Gun is where things get interesting. At lower gain settings, the Boost channel is very much that, a sort of full-spectrum boost that has a few EQ nips and tucks in the right places to make your signal sound sweeter and bigger. The distortion channel is brash and incredibly bright, so paired with a darker amp the Double Gun can really get close to those coveted Top Boost tones that the Trainwreck was known to master. However, even with a slightly brighter amp, sometimes the treble can be too overbearing, even when completely rolled off. The Fat switch helped alleviate this by introducing more bass into the signal, warming up those sharp high-end transients. The Distortion channel was a little too high-gain for my tastes, and with the Gain pot being shared by both the Boost and the Drive channel, sometimes it can go from soft distortion to full on mayhem with the tap of a switch, not really utilizing anything in between.
Like every tube pedal I test, I like to roll a few different types of tubes in the circuit, to really hear what’s going on and if the tubes are just a gimmick. Thankfully, here they are not. Using a 12AU7 in the drive channel almost alleviated all of my issues with the overly bright high end. It still had some tinges of that brightness, but it definitely calmed down enough to be useable. However, I found my favorite setting was when I cranked the gain on the Boost channel. That full frequency boost turned into an expressive drive with a nice hard edge. It ebbed and flowed with my playing dynamics and had a beautifully subdued grit that spit out when I dug in.
The Double Gun has the potential to be an incredible pedal, and it will take some digging and experimenting to find your tone with it. Suffice to say, there is something here for everyone who enjoys a classic tube distortion tone, a la Trainwreck (Vox-ish) flavored. There aren’t many (if any) tube pedals based on this legendary amplifier, so Mr. Wong’s attempt to create a pedal that takes inspiration from this hallowed circuit is mostly a triumph. It is slightly held back by a few design flaws, but for anyone looking for something outside of your typical Fender or Marshall tones, and are as crazy about tubes as I am, look no further.
WHAT WE LIKE:
Genuine tube tone, with some really great sounds if you take the time to dig through and find them. Responds well to tube rolling, and is a very unique design that nobody has ever tried until now.
Non-independent channels could be a dealbreaker for some. Stock mode can be a little bit too bright.