Third Man Hardware x Donner Triple Threat Pedal | Review

Published 2 weeks ago on June 7, 2024

By Guitar Interactive Magazine

Third Man Hardware x Donner Triple Threat Pedal | Review
MSRP: (UK) £99 / (US) $99

Nick Jennison reviews the Third Man Hardware x Donner Triple Threat Pedal — a versatile powerhouse designed to elevate your guitar's sonic possibilities. Donner's first collaboration with Jack White's Third Man Hardware features three distinct effects in one compact unit: fuzz, distortion, and boost. Each effect is independently switchable, allowing for seamless transitions and combinations to craft your ideal sound. The pedal's durable construction ensures reliability on stage or in the studio, while its intuitive controls make dialing in your perfect tone a breeze. With its unique blend of aggressive fuzz, rich distortion, and clean boost, the Triple Threat Pedal is just that.

Collaborations between pedal builders are always exciting, and they often result in some really interesting and unique products — especially when a high-end, boutique maker joins forces with a mass-producing "affordable" brand with huge manufacturing resources. I can think of a few such collaborations, but none of them are as surprising as Donner and Third Man.

For the uninitiated, Third Man is Jack White's own equipment brand (yes, THAT Jack White) — a brand that doesn't actually MAKE anything themselves, but collaborates with builders like Beetronics, Coppersound, and Gamechanger Audio to create unique, high-end designs. Donner, by contrast, has risen from drop-shipping upstarts to become the new kings of the affordable East-Asian equipment market. So when Donner revealed the Triple Threat, an all-analogue multi FX pedal co-designed and co-branded with Third Man, our interest was very much piqued.

This compact, affordable unit is made up of three of the main "effects food groups" — gain, modulation ("wobble"), and time-based ("wet"). There's a high-gain distortion, a phaser, and an analogue delay, each with its own footswitch and simple three-knob control layout. There are no menus, no presets, no order switching, nothing fancy, but it's still plenty versatile.

The distortion circuit is tuned to Jack White's own specifications to produce what Third Man calls a "threatening rock sound," and it has a very wide range of both gain and tone. Crank the drive control, and you get a thick and meaty wall of distortion, with a low end that feels slightly blown-out like a good muff-style fuzz. There are lots of shades of dirt to be had along the way, and it works just as well as a "dirty boost" into a broken-up amp, with Sabbathy doom and chewy treble booster vibes all on tap when you run it into a dirty British-style amp.

The phaser is derived from Donner's Pearl Tremor, with depth and rate controls for everything from a subtle swoosh to a deep vintage throb, and an independent level control to help balance wet and dry sounds. Unfortunately, the phaser is probably the only thing I don't like about the Triple Threat — but not because of its sound; because of its position in the signal chain. Now, this is unquestionably a case of personal preference, but for me, a phaser belongs before distortion, 100% of the time! That said, Jack White knows what he's doing, and I totally understand if you're more inclined to trust his judgment over mine!

The delay (labelled "echo") is taken directly from Donner's first-ever pedal, the Yellow Fall. It's a heavily filtered, crunchy, and characterful delay that's distinctly "lo-fi," so if you're expecting studio-quality clean repeats, you may be disappointed, but it's superb for vibey slapback, on-the-edge washes, and self-oscillation freakouts. A word of warning — this pedal only requires 100mA to power it, but any less than that and the delay will start to behave very strangely, almost like a gated fuzz. Is that a bug or a feature? You decide.

The Donner X Third Man Triple Threat is a very cool pedal with lots of tonal possibilities, and the distortion circuit alone is worth the asking price. It's also a little piece of pedal history, and most definitely marks Donner out as a brand to watch in the future!

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