Catalinbread Dirty Little Secret




The Dirty Little Secret is something we at Catalinbread have been harboring for quite a long time now and we're finally ready after months of testing and refining to spill the beans...

In essence, the DLS is a ‘foundation' pedal - a sonic platform to build the rest of your sound upon. It reacts to your playing dynamics and respects the character of your guitar's pickups just like the classic British amplifiers it emulates. Use it to set your base crunch rhythm sound into a clean amp, roll your guitar's volume back for cleans. Notice how treble boosters sound like shards of brittle glass or how fuzzes sound cheesy & thin into clean amps? The DLS seamlessly integrates treble boosters and fuzzes with clean low volume amps, delivering a thick cranked sound at reasonable volume levels.

What is surprising to people experiencing the DLS for the first time is that we've managed to capture the same dynamic interaction felt between a player and an amp but in a pedal. The DLS cleans up with light picking attack and volume knob changes - it reacts in the same way as those amplifiers do. It crunches when you hit it hard, cleans up when you play softly, and has that punchy cabinet ‘air movement' thing happening even at low volume levels. By the same token the DLS respects your guitar's characteristics. The result doesn't sound like a typical ‘amp in a box' pedal because it doesn't feel like you're playing a pedal - it feels like an amp.

The controls are simple and effective - Loudness governs output, Tone morphs from smooth and fat to crunchy and cutting, Gain goes from clean and clear to full crunch with harmonics, and the Rock/Rawk switch selects 60s - 70s JTM/JMP sounds (Rock) or ‘80s JCM tones (Rawk).

Catalinbread (press release, February 6, 2013)

Catalinbread presents the newly redesigned Dirty Little Secret.

Introducing the new Dirty Little Secret from Catalinbread.  The Dirty Little Secret has earned itself a well-deserved reputation for replicating the sound and feel of a classic era Marshall amplifier, supplying one of the most iconic guitar sounds in music. Able to clean up with a flick of your guitar's volume control, or go from mild crunch to full kerrang with your pick attack, the Dirty Little Secret has seen the inside of arenas and bedrooms alike, providing great overdriven sounds to clean backlines, low-wattage amps, and even direct applications.  When the JFETs used as the base for the Dirty Little Secret were discontinued, and as our stock of them began to dwindle we knew we had to find ones still being manufactured.   However, rather than simply re-voicing around these new JFETs, we decided to push the envelope and provide an amazingly robust feature-set, from ever evolving listening and circuit skills, and pure power of intention.  This isn't just 'a' Marshall in a box, it's the most versatile and dynamic Marshall-style overdrive out there!

What's new in the Dirty Little Secret:

  • The DLS now offers two distinct voicings, "Super Lead" and "Super Bass" switchable via an internal slider switch.
  • Completely redesigned full three-knob treble-middle-bass tone control complement that reconfigures for each mode setting.
  • We've also added an internal presence trimmer that allows you to fine-tune the presence of the pedal precisely to your guitar and amp combination.
  • The gain range is much wider and even more responsive to pickup types, playing dynamics and instrument volume knob!

The "Super Lead" mode expands the range of the DLS MkII with more gain available and more control over your tone sculpting with the addition of the midrange control without losing any of the touch-sensitive dynamic qualities that made the MkII so great to play - in fact, those qualities have been enhanced. The gain range now goes from classic plexi all the way to modified JCM800 levels and can get even more raw and open than any previous DLS.  This mode was voiced specifically to make humbucker-equipped guitars really rock with clean to scream all from the twist of your guitar's volume knob.

The "Super Bass" mode is a new voicing that gives you the tone and gain structure of a Marshall Super Bass (which is very similar to a JTM45 or JTM50/100). This mode was voiced to really hone in on that elusive in-between "not quite clean, not quite dirty" response that old tube amps were so good at getting.  And it was specifically voiced to make fuzz pedals sound great (especially two-transistor based fuzzes like the fuzz face).  Plug a Strat into a Fuzz Face into the new DLS in SB mode and you'll see what we mean!

The SL/SB mode switch:

The voicing mode switch doesn't just add a bit more bass to make it a "super BASS" or something simple like that.  It completely reconfigures the tone stack and key first gain stage parameters to give authentic Super Lead or Super Bass type response. The new treble-middle-bass tone control complement exactly reproduce the tone stack circuits of the Super Lead and the Super Bass amps. So when you switch from SL to SB mode, the tone circuit gets reconfigured to the Super Bass circuit. Compared to the SL tone circuit, the SB tone circuit shifts the bass response lower and gives a somewhat more "scooped" sound than the SL mode.  It's actually not really much more scooped as it is the SL mode that adds a lot of upper midrange to give that classic mix-cutting Super Lead kerrang response.

A Super Lead's circuit cuts out a lot of low end in the first gain stage, while the Super Bass or older Super Leads passed a lot of bass through. The reason the Super Lead cuts so much bass is to keep things tight when the amp is turned up. And that's exactly what the SL mode of the new DLS does - it tightens the bass response at the classic Marshall frequency point and turns up the gain potential to give a hot, fast responding, gainier sound. It sounds absolutely fantastic with humbuckers but with Fender style guitars a player may prefer a fuller response.

Enter the Super Bass mode. This mode has full frequency response up front so everything gets through.  What we end up with is a slightly slower response but a nice thick tone that's perfect for those in-between levels of gain.  And this is precisely why it works so great with fuzzes such as the fuzz face. Super Leads cut too much bass right up front and are too gained up, so a fuzz face ends up sounding farty and pinched sounding instead of a huge, full sound.  Fuzz Face and Marshall fans will know what we're talking about.  Using amp-geek language, the difference between the SL and SB mode on the new DLS is akin to split-cathode vs. shared-cathode configuration on an old Marshall. Split-cathode has a high-pass response starting around 700hz while shared-cathode lets everything through.  But the SB mode is not just for single-coils.  This is the mode you want if you're trying to get that classic AC/DC sound - big, open crunch that's not too gained out sounding.  Hendrix fans will love this mode.  It was voiced with that sound in mind!  Without a fuzz in front of it, think The Wind Cries Mary.  With a fuzz in front of it?  Pull out your live Hendrix recordings!

We're really excited about the new Dirty Little Secret. We were able to take everything we loved about the MkII and expand on it.  Full tone controls, two distinct classic modes, and a variable presence control will allow you to dial in the exact sound you're looking for, regardless of the guitar and amp you're using.   The Dirty Little Secret's dynamic response and superb sound will be so realistic, you'll never want to turn it off.

AVAILABLE: Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

PRICE: $169.99




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1 review, average score of 9 / 10

2016-02-28keoniinthecityMKIII9/10  My go too for that Marshall sound...

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