Seymour Duncan came back into the guitar pedal game strong. While their classic Pickup Booster pedal got a remake, new releases including the Vapor Trail Analog Delay & 805 Overdrive pedals show that the company most well-known for their pickups really wants to make a name for themselves among effects pedal using guitarists as well. And while they’ve been off to a good start, their latest offering, the Palladium Gain Stage, looks to up their game even further. With a full array of EQ controls – including Seymour Duncan’s unique Resonance parameter which boosts gain in the low-end – and a dedicated foot-swichable boost section, the Palladium looks like it could be an incredible platform for turning a solid single channel amp into a raging behemoth. Let’s run down the features and dive into our Seymour Duncan Palladium review.
- 2 color options – glossy white with green or matte black with silver
- Bass: Sets amount of bass boost or cut
- Mid Level: Sets amount of mid frequency boost or cut
- Mid Freq: Sets location of center frequency of mid boost or cut
- Treble: Sets amount of treble boost or cut
- Presence: Sets amount of boost or cut above the treble frequency range
- Level: Sets the output signal level
- Gain: Sets the amount of gain at high frequencies from 42.5dB to 71dB
- Resonance: Sets the amount of gain at low frequencies from 41.5dB to 66dB
- Boost Knob: Sets the amount of additional gain provided by the Boost footswitch
- Boost Footswitch: Engages the Boost function
- Type of circuitry: Low noise op amps and germanium clipping diodes
- Bypass: True hard-wire bypass
- Input Impedance: 500K ohms
- Output Impedance: 2.8k ohms
- Gain Range: 42.5dB to 71dB
- Resonance Gain Range: 41.5dB to 66dB
- Boost Gain: 25dB
- Noise Referred To Input:
- Tone Control Response:
Bass – 100Hz center, +/-15dB boost/cut
Mid – 255Hz to 1100Hz, +/-12db boost/cut
Treble – 2.7kHz center, +/-13dB boost/cut
- Power: External 9 volt – 18 volt regulated DC adapter (center pin negative) drives internal 24V supply
- Current Consumption: 180mA
- Dimensions: 5.6” x 4.63” x 2.2” tall Weight: 16 ounces
Sound & Performance:
While Seymour Duncan’s Kick Hammett-esque claim that “the Palladium Gain Stage effects pedal is the first stompbox that actually captures the feel and responsiveness of a high gain tube amp” may grab some ire from fans of the many quality “amp-in-a-box” pedals to be released in many years, there are certainly a few things that the Palladium has going for it that are rarely addressed in pedals seeking to emulate or capture an amp-like feel and response in pedal form.
First, let’s talk about the Resonance control as this is what it mostly comes down to. This parameter increases gain in the lower frequencies, making your low end bigger, fuller, and indeed, more amp-like. And by amp-like I mean like a 4×12 half-stack. Marketing hype aside the Palladium does have plenty of girth in the low-end, yet it manages to remain tight and focused even at pretty high Resonance settings in the 1-3 o’clock range. The Resonance works with the Bass to dial in the low-end response. Cranking the Bass with low Resonance still provides lower frequency content as expected, but pushing up the Resonance just adds a certain massive quality that gain-freaks and metal-heads will love. The fact that it doesn’t mud up your sound is a testament to how much effort Seymour Duncan put in to make this feature useful and essential for getting the most out of this pedal and fine-tuning the Palladium to your guitar, pickups, and amp.
The next important aspect of the Palladium is it’s Mid section with Level and Freq knobs. I especially appreciate distortion pedals that let you tune your mid frequencies with greater detail, and this pedal performs exceptionally well in this area. For heavier scooped metal tones, cut the Mid Level below noon and sweep the Freq to find your sound. I used to find myself liking a scoop around 700-800Hz which the Palladium can accommodate, but now I’m going for the 250Hz-ish area. The Palladium’s minimum 255Hz setting is working for me when I tune the kick drum of double-bass blast beats to hit around that frequency area and want the guitar to stay out of the way. However you sculpt your sound, the brutality of this pedal can be honed in to work with your mix.
It’s not just about heavy as hell tones either. Push the Mid Freq over towards 700-900Hz, push the Mid Level over noon, and dial in some low Gain; you’ll be classic rock ready. Tweak your Bass & Resonance to get the feel of a 1×12 or 2×12 combo or beef it up for a vintage half-stack of full-stack rumble.
The Treble & Presence knobs round out the essential EQ controls, giving you complete control over the amount of high-end frequencies in your guitar tone. You can roll-off the Presence a bit for some vintage warmth or boost the Treble for a little extra bite. This gives you the perfect additional attenuation for tweaking the sound of the Palladium for perfect response with brighter single-coils or darker humbuckers. For a company that spends so much R&D effort on every little nuance of the sound of guitar pickups, it’s great to see that perspective so keenly applied to the design of the Palladium’s tonal flexibility.
There’s also the Boost section, a foot-switchable option that’s meant to provide you with that little something extra for solos. It’s derived from Seymour Duncan’s own 805 Overdrive, a pedal I consider to be one of the finest Tube Screamer inspired overdrives I’ve come across. The Boost here has one simple control: Level. This limits its flexibility greatly, but there are a few uses for it for mentioning. With lower Level settings you can try activating the Boost for a slightly different sound. It has a little more upper mid-range sizzle, very subtle, but I dig the sharper sound for aggressive higher gain settings. On lower Gain settings the Boost will provide for a more dramatic tonal shift when you have the Level set up past noon. This will give the boost pre-distortion as intended if you want to kick it up a notch when taking a lead.
The Palladium is my personal favorite Seymour Duncan pedal to date, and my expectations are indeed surpassed. I only have two minor gripes. First, the Boost, while handy, isn’t essential in its limited form. I’d rather the pedal have been in a more narrow 8 knob format with a single stomp switch. That way, you could save a little space and/or make room for the fully featured 805 Overdrive to sit right next to it. The other thing is the noise floor. The noise isn’t excessive mind you as the Palladium is on par with any higher gain distortion pedals in this area. But considering how well this pedal performs in the higher gain distortion arena, a dedicated noise gate function would have made this pedal even better for tight high-gain riffage. Still, I tried it with a Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor & TC Electronic Sentry Noise Gate, and either of those pedals are up to the task of taming this beast if the lowest possible background noise floor is essential to you.
And speaking of noise, that reminds me of two areas I want to commend the engineers behind this killer pedal. While the Palladium utilizes those rugged stomp switches that offer a satisfying “click” when you stomp down on them, those horrendous “popping” sounds don’t come through in your guitar signal. Instead, it seems as if the switches trigger true bypass switching relays that activate the pedal with no audible noise occurring during the transition. This goes for the distortion and Boost side.
Furthermore, while some builders have been failing in their attempts at implementing relay bypass switching due to using a “lazy relay bypass” that doesn’t remember if your pedal was activated or bypassed upon last power up, the Palladium will recall your previous Bypass and Boost states when it receives power. So if you’re a pro guitarist with a rack based guitar rig or effects switcher based pedalboard setup, when your pedalboard or rack receives power, rest assured that your Palladium and its Boost will be in the active or bypassed state they need to be in when the gig starts.
The Seymour Duncan Palladium is yet another outstanding release from the guitar pickup luthiers turned pedal builders.
The Seymour Duncan Palladium Gain Stage is one of the most versatile high gain distortion pedals I’ve played and yields an incredibly wide range of quality sounds. This pedal yields an incredibly wide range of usable distortion tones and is supremely adaptable to whatever guitar, pickup, and amp setup you have. It particularly excels at higher gain sounds thanks to its speaker cabinet simulating Resonance control and flexible Mid EQ section. The full range of amp-style tone controls are rounded out with Treble & Presence, and all work together to help you carve out sounds from vintage rock ‘n roll to modern extreme metal. The Boost, while not necessarily essential, does add some extra flexibility when taking a solo or sharpening your tone. I wish it had a built in noise gate, so you wouldn’t need a separate pedal, but that won’t be much of an issue in a full band mix. The Palladium is the most ambitious guitar pedal yet from Seymour Duncan and another offering that’s well worth checking out.
That concludes our Seymour Duncan Palladium review. Thanks for reading.
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