This week, we’re bringing you another gear history story that started with some common ingredients: two dudes, a plan to rock, and a pedal side project that turned out to be a smash hit. If the terms Punkifier, Grunge, Thrash Master or Death Metal mean anything to you, then you know we’re talking about the one and only, DOD.
The story of DOD began back in 1973, when David Oreste Di Francesco and John Johnson got together to tinker with stompboxes alongside their main aspirations of rock and roll stardom. As it turned out, their builds were more successful than their bands and DOD was born.
In the decades that followed, DOD designed and developed a surprising catalogue of effect pedals. Some innovative, many experimental, and many sonic successes. One series born in the early 1980s and running through to the turn of the millennium always caught my interest: the FX Series. It’s crazy diverse, colorfully designed, and creatively marketed. One of the trends in this series is DOD’s attempt to stay ahead of the curve by launching distortion pedals that unabashedly targeted fans of changing rock genres. Here’s four of my DOD faves that I remember lusting over in guitar adds back in the day…
DOD FX59 Thrash Master
Any pedal that is hot pink is a win in my books. The first wave of the FX59 Thrash Master first appeared in early 1990, with a look as bright as the spandex sported by hair metal bands of the decade prior. Based on the circuitry of its predecessor, the FX56 American Metal, the Thrash Master featured a different gain structure that aimed at a more modern distortion profile. By 1994, however, the attire of rockers was looking less pink and more flannel, which spelled the end for the Thrash Master.
DOD FX69 Grunge
The manual of the FX69 Grunge claims that “even its distortion is distorted.” With a launch date in 1993, this marketing pitch just might have piqued the interest of audiences swimming in the noise and haze of emerging grunge rock. While the pedal sold well and remained in production well into 1998, arguably one of the more (in)famous moments in its existence was when Kurt Cobain poked fun at the pedal on stage at a gig in San Diego and subsequently tossed it into the crowd. But, as is often the case, even bad press is good press!
DOD FX76 Punkifier
If I had to pick just one, the FX76 Punkifier is it. This pedal hit the floor at NAMM 1995. It offers up a smear of distortion and fuzz, with a set of knobs appropriately named for the onset of attitude, like “slam,” “spike,” “menace,” and, of course, “punk.” The angst-filled existence of the Punkifier, however, was short-lived. By 1997, DOD discontinued the camouflage pedal.
DOD FX86 Death Metal
If you’re going to keep the punks and grunge crowd happy, you can’t leave the metal heads with a discontinued pink stompbox. By 1995, DOD revisited their metallic interests and launched the FX86 Death Metal. Fitting of its name, the effect was all black with a spatter of blood red across the control panel. While the pedal continued DOD’s heritage of clever (though, at times, confusing) labels for knobs—look no further than the “r.i.p.,” “guts,” “pain,” and “scream” controls—it’s circuitry did something different. None of these knobs controlled gain. They all tinkered with EQ. After all, if the pedal is for death metal, why would you go anything less than full on distortion?