Here's a scenario that should be familiar to most guitar players. You've decided you want a bit of dirt in your life, so you hit the local guitar emporium to see what distortion pedals they have on offer. Trouble is they have hundreds of the bloody things and after trying them all out in the space of a Saturday afternoon, you're still none the wiser. That's where the awesome DigiTech DF-7 Distortion Factory pedal comes in; packing seven of the world's greatest distortion sounds inspired by all those Boss, DOD and Electro-Harmonix pedals that we know and love.
It's a modelling unit then, but DigiTech is famous for its sound-a-like pedals. Anyone who has tried their amazing Artist Series models (the Dan Donegan Weapon, the Eric Clapton Crossroads et al) will know just how close their modelling comes to capturing the tones of classic gear. This time the company has turned its attention to popular stompboxes with models based on the Ibanez TS-9 overdrive (as used by Stevie Ray Vaughan), the DOD Overdrive/Preamp 250, the Boss DS-1 Distortion - a favourite of Nirvana's Kurt Cobain - the Pro Co Rat, the Boss MT-2 Metal Zone, the hugely popular DigiTech Metal Master and the legendary Electro-Harmonix Big Muff p. Not a bad line-up.
The DF-7 is loaded with a full complement of tone controls: low (bass), mid, mid frequency and high (treble). There are also two volume controls: level and gain. Getting them both out of the way first, the level is, quite simply, the overall volume of the pedal. The gain increases the amount of distortion of each of the models, except on the Big Muff p where it's used to adjust the amount of sustain.
The tone controls are a little bit more complicated though. The tricky one is the high (treble) control. Its function is determined by which pedal model you are using. For instance, if you're playing through the DOD, Boss Metal Zone or DigiTech Metal Master, then the high control simply cuts or boosts treble. On the TS-9, Boss DS-1, and Big Muff p models, the high control acts as an overall tone just like on the original pedals. On the Pro Co Rat model the high works like the Filter control on the real deal. Pretty damn smart, we reckon.
Frankly, we were blown away. We know the sounds of all of these pedals well, and the boffins at DigiTech have really done their homework. The TS-9 model has that glassy, transparent overdrive that made the original pedal a tone legend. The Electro-Harmonix Big Muff p model has that violin-like sustain we love so much... but we're just cherry picking here. All seven of these sounds deliver exactly what they promise.
And impressively, there's something for everyone lurking inside that bulletproof box. That TS-9 model will appeal to lovers of vintage-style overdrive, as it sounds like a great valve amplifier set to stun. And the DOD 250 has some pure 1970s style rock beef - think Aerosmith in their drug-fuelled prime.
True rock carnivores will relish the balls-to-the-wall power of the Boss MT-2 Metal Zone, Pro Co Rat and DigiTech Metal Master models. The Boss DS-1 Distortion and Electro-Harmonix Big Muff p models are old-school classics that every guitarist should own, anyway, but the Distortion Factory just makes it easier to bag yourself a wide range of essential fuzz sounds. We've only scratched the surface of the DF-7, but you're gonna have a ball finding out the rest for yourself.