Price paid: $ 29.99
Purchased from: New on eBay
Ease of Use: The Artec SE-DDB has 4 knobs a level, a tone, a crunchy and a heavy. The level knob just controls the output volume, the tone is the tone. The crunchy and the heavy are the two types of distortion blended with this pedal. The instructions were fairly sparse. They show that if you have the crunchy knob turned all the way down and the heavy knob turned up then it is only that single type of distortion, and vice versa. The crunchy and heavy knobs are very small and sit in-between the level and tone knobs. This makes it very difficult to adjust these quickly and accurately unless you have small hands. After messing with this pedal I immediately got some decent tones. After spending some time tweaking the tone and the EQ on my amp (Blackheart Little Giant) and my guitar (G&L Tribute Series S-500), then I was able to get some really nice distorted tones out of this pedal. Because of the very small crunchy and heavy knobs I would only rate this as a 7. Besides the small knobs this pedal is very easy to use. // 7
Sound: I mainly ran this through a Blackheart Little Giant and played my G&L Tribute Series S-500, but at some point in my testing this pedal I played through several combinations with the following equipment: Xaviere XV-599, Ibanez Artcore AXD83P, Ibanez RG350, Vox Pathfinder 15R, Maestro by Gibson Mini Amp, TonePort UX2 with Gearbox. I was able to get some good distortion tones with everything I messed with. I will talk about each distortion type separately.
Crunchy A touch of crunchy with the heavy turned all the way down gives a good boost type effect for blues or clean soloing. Anything more than a touch of crunchy by itself starts sounding between trebly to flabby then if you readjust EQ you can tighten it up a little bit, then you turn it up a little more and it is hopeless. After about 10 o'clock setting on crunchy by itself it is unusable for me. The crunchy begins to have screeching highs and a really sloppy bottom end that EQ can't help.
Heavy This heavy distortion makes this pedal Shine at its price point. The heavy distortion has a really well balanced tone. You can get a nice growl out of this without any bottom end flab. I used the heavy for some electric blues tones, to some NWOBHM tones to a good modern radio rock distortion. Again, the heavy distortion is really the saving grace of this pedal, and it really is impressive at this price point.
Blended It really seemed like blending a little Crunchy with a lot of any amount of Heavy gave a pretty good tone for soloing over some distorted chording, and seems to cut through pretty good. Honestly, the crunchy setting was almost useless for my needs, but at a low setting by itself or with the heavy setting it seems to operate like a nice boost.
Overall, the heavy setting is awesome and the crunchy setting is almost useless, so I am really conflicted on what to give for a rating for sound. Giving a low score for the crunchy setting seems like it would be penalizing the pedal when I would have given it higher marks just if it didn't have the crunchy setting as an option. So I'm going to grade the sound category as if the heavy setting was the main setting and the crunchy was just some extra they threw onto the pedal. I give this a 7 for sound. // 7
Reliability & Durability: The Artec SE-DDB is very solid construction, heavy duty knobs and button. The button reminds me of the old dimmer switches in the floorboard of old automobiles, that is how heavy duty it is. I literally played this for hours straight on a couple of occasions and the sound quality did not degrade, so the battery is still running strong. This supposedly runs off of a DC adaptor also, but I don't know where to find the adaptor, I couldn't find it when I checked, but I only looked for it for a few minutes. I would have felt better if this came with an adaptor. // 7
Overall Impression: The crunchy distortion was virtually useless for my purposes, but maybe that comes down to personal preference. A little crunchy is useful for a small boost. The heavy distortion was very solid and outstanding for the price paid for the pedal. The website says this pedal is true bypass. If you unplug the instrument cables from the pedal then it can't be turned on and will save the battery life. This is a 30$ pedal, and I have to rate it as such. There are much better distortion pedals out there, but few at this price point. I like this pedal and I will use it, and while there may be several pedals I would rather have I would have had to spend much more money for them. I rate this overall as an 8. // 8