Donner have become something of a byword for budget guitar products, and as we’ve found out, not everything they make hits the mark, but, we have continuously been impressed with their Vivid series pedals, including one of their latest releases, the Dumbal Drive.
The Dumbal Drive, as you can likely guess from its name, is an overdrive pedal designed to emulate Dumble amp tones. Of course, it seems an outrageous thought that a $50 pedal could rival the sound of a $50,000 amp, but can it even come close? Keep reading as we find out.
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Who Is this for?
The Donner Dumbal Drive is a solidly built stomp box that works as well for the beginner looking for a few FX pedals as it does for a working musician building out a full pedal board. It looks good, and is made to take a bit of punishment.
Appearance / Features / Controls
Being from the Vivid series the Dumbal Drive is a full size unit, with an all metal construction. We found that it felt as well put together as any pedal from big name brands like Boss or Electro Harmonix.
The pedal is turned on and off with a heavy duty foot switch. In the off position, the Dumbal Drive goes into a true bypass mode, ensuring that the pedal’s circuitry doesn’t color your tone when you don’t want it to.
It features 4 preamp controls including gain and volume, and bass, and treble controls on the EQ side. In between the preamp controls there is a small switch that allows you to choose from one of 3 clipping circuits. Mode 1 is high gain, mode 2 is a low gain, organic tube sound, and mode 3 applies additional compression and increases sustain.
We first tried this pedal in the 4 recommended settings from the manual. Of course, we also spent a lot of time playing with the pedal to find the tones that we really liked, but it was super handy to have recommendations from the manufacturer as a starting point.
The Dumbal Drive did provide some Dumble-adjacent tones, especially in the recommended “Smooth Solo” setting, which we found closely replicated the Santana sound. We also got some really nice country, rock and blues tones. As far as its limitations go, remember it’s a low gain unit, so even when maxed, don’t expect Tube Screamer or Blues Driver crunch.
The clipping mode functionality was nice to have, although we found the difference between the circuits to be quite subtle. It’s unlikely that you’d be able to pick out the difference in a mix, but when recording it’s more noticeable.
We didn’t have any issues with noise or interference when using this pedal, which is something players who plan to record will be pleased to hear. Although, it is worth mentioning that with the gain and/or volume cranked, it did have a tendency to get a little muddy. A small roll back definitely helped with the clarity, though.
Another downside to this pedal, as we found with the other Donner models we’ve tested, is that there is no space to put a battery, and the 9v adapter needed to power it does not come included.
Overall, we enjoyed using this pedal, and we were ultimately quite happy with the tone – if you’d like to hear it for yourself, check out our demo over on the KGR YouTube channel
Final Thoughts on the Donner Dumbal Drive Pedal
Will this pedal make your amp sound like a Dumble? Not exactly, but some of the tones aren’t a million miles away. For not a lot of money, you’re getting a sturdy and reliable pedal that can get you reasonably close to the sound of some of the world’s greatest amps, and in our book, that makes it a solid value proposition.
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