BACKGROUND: This pedal is handbuilt in Japan by Toshihiko Tanabe. The flagship pedal is the Zenkudo meant for humbucker style guitars. The spawn of this pedal is the Dumkudo, a higher gain version of the Zenkudo, meant for single-coil bolt-on style guitars. Some of us make a big deal about blue LED lights in pedals. If it is blue it must sound better (color and tone are inexplicably linked). With the Dumkudo, not only do you get a blue LED, but you also get a little switch on the side that can change this light from blue to red and then to green. Yes. Green. That’s amazing.
Better yet, these color changes are not just aesthetic, rather they signify changes in tones and modes.
Red: This is a Marshall-like tone. It is the most punchy out of the three modes.
Blue: This is more of a Dumble tone, softer sounding then the Red mode and has a Zendrive flavor.
Green: This mode is supposed to be more of a Dumble/Tanabe tone. The most noticeable difference is that it has a much higher output than the other two modes.
GUITARS: Gibson Les Paul Silverburst, Fender Eric Johnson Signature Strat, ’86 Fender Telecaster ’62 Reissue
AMPS: ’85 Mesa Boogie Mark III, ’97 Rivera R-55, 65 London Combo
FIRST IMPRESSION: When my friend Q said he was looking into this pedal, I had to admit that I had no idea what it was. When I first looked at Tanabe’s website, the first thing I noticed was his return policy. When that’s is before the actual product itself that tells me that Tanabe is pursuing this “hobby” with an eccentric zeal. When I first saw it, it was surprisingly light and very pretty with its black case and mother-of-pear-like top, definitely a solid pedal with solid tone.
PROS: This pedal sounds amazing, which is probably the most important feature of a pedal. In fact, it sounds better the more I play it. It sounds as much like a real amp as any pedal I have ever heard. There seems to be more low end than the Zendrive yet it never feels muddy or murky, always clear even with a Les Paul.
While every mode sounds great, the Red Marshall mode is my favorite through the Mesa and the 65, and the Blue mode sounds great through the Rivera. All of the guitars sound great through this cool customer.
CONS: This is a short list. This pedal has a surprising lack of sustain at full saturation. I’m a little hesitant to say this is a short-coming. The green mode has such a high output that it is almost unusable if you are switching between the pedal and the clean channel on your amp unless you use a clean boost when the Dumkudo is turned off. This does make for an extra box to stomp on when switching channels. It should be said that the higher the pedal’s volume is turned up the better sounding it gets.
FINAL THOUGHTS: No matter how I turned the knobs or what amp or guitar I used, this pedal sounded amp-like, articulate, and just plain good. And it looks pretty. This pedal is a great core tone for any worship, church-oriented pedal board.