As I have mentioned in previous columns my tastes and style of playing is very eclectic. This range of interests and tones has lead me on a path of stockpiling overdrives, boosts and distortion pedals like a reality show hoarder. My typical gig doesn’t have me bringing the entire arsenal of gain and dirt. However, I have situations where I have three sometimes four different overdrives, boosts and distortion pedals sitting on my board.
The Decibel Eleven Dirt Clod changes all of this drastically. You could say they have drastically changed the game. The Dirt Clod is a feature packed analog overdrive, boost and distortion unlike anything I have seen before. I cannot stress enough how visionary this stompbox is.
The Decibel Eleven Dirt Clod is feature full. Typically these features can only be found in bulky, expensive rack units or digital modelers. The Decibel Eleven Dirt Clod combines a 100% true analog signal path with the conveniences of digital switching. The user has up to 10 presets that can be user defined. If you only have four core tones the pedal can be programed to only scroll through those selected tones or go wild like me and use all 10. Making things even easier is the pedal is midi controllable giving you more switching and patching flexibility.
While we are on the subject of flexibility it should be noted the Decibel Eleven Dirt Clod has 2 distinct types of clipping. They can be easily toggled by depressing the gain control and saved to any preset. The first clipping style is diodes-to-ground style similar to what you find in many classic overdrives like the vintage ROSS Distortion, DOD250 or an MXR Distortion+. The second clipping style is in the feedback path similar to an 808 style or Tube Screamer. There is a led indicator on the front of the box to indicate which form you are in.
The eq of this stompbox is very simple, but incredibly versatile. The CORE control controls your midrange allowing the user to scoop, flatten or boost the mids. This is ideal for players that want a deep powerful gain without losing definition and adding mud to their tone. There is also a CRYSTAL control that I found incredibly helpful. This is not a treble control as you would assume, it is a high frequency roll off. As you turn it to the left it leads you down a path that is very reminiscent of Matt Pike’s High on Fire or Sleep tone. Fear not if guttural, barking distortion is not your thing. The Decibel Eleven Dirt Clod delivers up anything you could possibly want from a clean boost to those aforementioned high gain metal tones.
I tested this pedal with a variety of tube and solid state amps, every time it delivered. Using my Marshall 100w DSL with the pedal I was able to dial in some great tones. I set the DSL to the classic gain channel. Then with the Decibel Eleven Dirt Clod I set a Tube Screamer like gentle boost to the signal path. It was just enough to give me that singing, full classic rock lead tone that so many guitar players covert. Toggling the FORM to diodes-to-ground style and giving the gain a little crank the pedal brought me into Randy Rhoads territory.
Anything I threw at the Decibel Eleven Dirt Clod it was able to deliver. I was dialing vintage blues tones with a bit of “spank” on them and scooped 80’s compressed tones, to the deepest depths of high gain grind. The one parameter that never changed was warmth. The Decibel Eleven Dirt Clod sounds very natural and organic. I understand that most guitar players are not going to need 10 distinct tones on a gig. Even if you need one great tone to get you through the night this is your pedal.
A nice option is the ability to have one preset as your main tone and preset two as a boost of that tone for solos. By cranking the MASS (output) up a bit on your second preset and adding a bit more treble and/or mids your leads will be sure to cut through the mix. Not only are you eliminating the need for a boost pedal but the parameters of that boost are defined by you. As I said earlier if these are the only two preset you need the Decibel Eleven Dirt Clod can be programed for two presets. There is no need to scroll through all 10.
When I opened the box for the Decibel Eleven Dirt Clod I was very surprised by its physical form. It is a lot smaller and compact than it looks in the pictures. Having a footprint of roughly 4 ½ x 5 inches it does not take up a lot of real estate on your pedalboard. You would expect a pedal this feature full to be much bigger. The Decibel Eleven Dirt Clod retails for $189.00. While it is priced in the range of comparable overdrives, boosts and distortion pedals keep in mind you are getting all three in one box.