[review] Danelectro Cool Cat CTO-1 Transparent Overdrive (by LordRiffenstein)

LordRiffenstein, all-around tone freak and purveyor of great tone.


What can we say about Danelectro? Let’s put it this way, if you don’t know this company, you shouldn’t be reading this review! ;-)

Cool Cat CTO-1 Transparent Overdrive

The CoolCat series of pedals was released many moons ago and had some very interesting pedals. The look isn’t for everybody but I like this old-school fifties look and feel.

You have gain and volume controls at your disposal as you would expect. And then there’s the dual pot for treble and bass. They aren’t the easiest to adjust and you will often find turning both when you actually only want to change 1. You’ll get used to it OR, like me, you will find the perfect set-n-forget setting.

The pedal feels solid, switch is good so build quality is fine!

Danelectro Cool Cat CTO-1 Transparent OverdriveThe pedal in use

Let me start by pointing out that I am reviewing the V1 of this pedal. After it became a big success, it was discovered that it was actually a copy of a pedal by a small builder. Danelectro came clean and decided to change the pedal a bit.

The pedal is straightforward, all the dials work well. The gain control starts to add gain from about 9:00 and goes from a little edge to enough crunch for some classic rock. The volume control can give your signal a serious punch, it has a lot of output so it works great as a boost. The on/off switch feels different than most pedals but underneath it is a standard switch that should last a long time. The treble and bass controls have a good range and are very interactive with each other and the gain.

The Transparent overdrive was an instant homerun. It took me no time to dial in a bunch of great sounds. I’ve been using it since it was released and I have yet to find a situation where it does not work stellar. I use it as a booster most of the time and you can use it to clear-up a darker sounding amp or to tighten up an amp with a loose low end. It delivers in every situation. As the name says, you can really dial this in to be extremely transparent to your base tone. The tone controls work really well. With them set at 12:00 you get a bit of TS-style mid-boost but with the use of low and high, you can even out the sound of the pedal. When I use it as a boost, I run the treble a bit higher so it cuts through the mix nicely. Works like a charm.

Killer pedal, I use it a lot. Most of the time, I use it as a booster, either to get that little bit ‘more’ or to balance out a guitar with weaker pickups. It delivers great stuff in front of old-school amps or newer, higher gain stuff. You can’t really make it sound bad!! I like it so much that I am going to buy the original pedal it was based on, just as a tip of the hat towards it’s designer!

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