Price paid: $ 129.99
Purchased from: Musicians Friend
Sound — 8
As mentioned before, the 535Q is an extremely versatile pedal, though is hindered by a largely impractical control layout. My main rig consists of a of a Marshall JCM 2000 DSL 401 and an upgraded Schecter Gryphon w/ Seymour Duncan Sh-2 and Sh-4 pickups. For the purposes of this review, I'm going to compare the Dunlop 535Q to the Dunlop GCB-95. The wide range of sounds you can get out of the 535Q are all fairly decent sounding in their own ways and are certainly several steps above the tone of the GCB-95. Despite that many different tones can be emulated by the 535Q, the pedal's sound overall can be characterized by smooth, thick sweeps with very good balance between the low and high ends of it's oscillation. Simply put, the 535Q is devoid of the sudden, choppy low-high end sweeps that plague the GCB-95. In my opinion, the only things that really hold the 535Q back in regard to sound is that it seems to be slightly lacking in "warmth" and is a bit too sharp sounding on clean settings for my tastes. However these are somewhat petty complaints and overall the pedal's sound quality is quite decent, and significantly more smooth, full and clean than the GCB-95's.
Overall Impression — 7
The Dunlop 535Q is certainly a good wah pedal that's a logical upgrade over the GCB-95 and is extremely versatile (something I always look for when purchasing new effects), but there are a few things which really hold it back from being an "8" or "9:" -As a matter of practicality, I think it's insane that Dunlop would use such tiny knobs for the 535Q's control pots, and even more insane to leave the pedal itself unmarked aside from the obnoxiously placed user guide on the bottom of the enclosure. -I also feel that the 535Q is somewhat misadvertised as being "the swiss army knife of wah pedals," although it is undoubtedly versatile compared to other wahs, most of the EQ adjustments that can be made are relatively subtle and lack the diversity one would expect based off of how it's marketed. -What I would love to see in the 535Q is true bypass switching or at least an LED Status indicator, a request that I think should almost go without saying for a pedal in the $120-50 price range. The positive aspects in my opinion would be that the fact that the 535Q gives any degree of customization is a huge bonus for me. Also, the tone of pedal overall is quite good, apart from the afore mentioned "sharp" upper-range and slight lack of warmth. I don't necessarily see myself trading or selling this pedal, but it may not remain part of my main rig for much more than 3-4 years. That said, it's still worth buying if you're not looking to take the plunge into more expensive or boutique wahs. I am by no means disappointed with my purchase, but the Dunlop 535Q definitely has some easily remedied yet troubling issues. If you are on the border line of purchasing this pedal and it's within your budget, I would say go for it, but if you have the extra cash or are looking for a wah that's truly special I would recommend that you consider looking into the MXR MC404 CAE Crybaby or other higher end wahs.
Reliability & Durability — 9
Dunlop pedals are built like tanks, in the past I've actually done some significant mods to GCB-95s (which have enclosures that are structurally identical to the 535Q), the most extensive of which involved completely dismantling the wah and removing the finish. The one thing I learned from that project? That it's impossible to take one of those things apart without some serious elbow grease. It should also be noted that Dunlop has a great customer support system, once I needed to replace a "Crybaby" logo plate after refinishing one of my GCB-95s so I sent Dunlop an email asking if I could buy one directly from them-- within 4 days I received a replacement logo plate in the mail free of charge. The only thing keeping me from rating the reliability of the 535Q as a "10" is that I haven't owned mine long enough to be able to authoritatively say that the electronics will never have issues.
Ease of Use — 6
Experimenting with the Dunlop 35Q Crybaby pedal to find your desired wah tone is relatively easy-- once you figure out what the controls actually do. There is nothing on the pedal itself to identify what the control knobs do or how to manipulate them, let alone anything to designate them from one another. The volume and Q control knobs are not only incredibly small, but also look exactly alike and are placed just over a quarter inch apart from one another, making adjusting your settings on the fly a total nuisance. Even the chrome range selector knob is unmarked, making it difficult to find the specific range setting you're looking for. That said, once you finally dial in the settings you want, the 535Q will achieve your desired tone fairly accurately. I would like to be able to say that it's a great pedal for experimenting with different settings with, but the unmarked enclosure makes experimenting with the settings quite a hassle, so unfortunately I'd have to rate the ease of use as a "6."