Fender Duel Pugilist Distortion review: A heavyweight distortion with formidable punch combinations
Fender steps into the ring with this ambidextrous dual distortion pedal, giving you more options than you’ll know what to do with.
Coming at you with a jab then a right cross, the Fender Duel Pugilist Distortion enables you to fight dirty on two fronts, with switchable channels and a host of tone-sculpting and blending options. This golden treasure chest of tone marks new territory for Fender which, after many false starts over the years, seems finally to have got it right when it comes to stompboxes, with the demands of the modern guitarist firmly at the forefront of the brand’s thinking.
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The Duel Pugilist Distortion features two channels for you to play with, allowing you to cut and hew different distorted tones to suit your personal preference. Separate level, tone and gain knobs are mirrored on the two distortion channels, granting you access to completely opposing tones. The three notches of the mode switch offer a variety of ways to place the two sounds in the signal chain, opening up myriad opportunities to tweak, and that’s before we’ve even gotten to the blend and EQ knobs.
The mode switch is the heart and soul of this pedal and gives you three options for setting how the pedals interact with one another. In ‘mute’ mode, Distortion A takes the reins with Distortion B operating as a top layer. Although this mode serves up several usable tones when we experiment with it, we find it to be the least inspiring of the options available.
Knock the switch down to ‘series’ and you unlock the ability to stack the separate distortion sounds just as you would with multiple distortion units on a pedalboard. With this mode engaged, we get everything from smooth, creamy, overdrive to high-gain tone that’s verging into fuzz-like territory. Setting Distortion A as your base tone then knocking Distortion B on top for an extra helping of dirt works a treat in this mode.
Lastly, we have the bypass mode, which delivers another brilliant batch of tone-tweaking options, letting you mix the two different distortions together via the blend knob. Mix a heavily distorted tone with something cleaner to obtain better note definition or use it even more adroitly by mixing distorted and clean tones together. Doing the latter serves up a delightful clarity to our guitar tones, with the disengaged channel working as a dry output.
We had a lot of fun playing with this pedal. The mass of sound-sculpting options for each channel is really incredible, further augmented by the two EQ knobs for extra boosting or cutting. As with the other units in the series, player-centric functionality features heavily, with the result being an adaptable stompbox that will find its fit in a variety of settings.
- PRICE £179
- DESCRIPTION 2-channel distortion pedal, made in China
- CONTROLS 2x level, tone, gain, EQ high, EQ low, blend
- FEATURES True bypass switching, 9V DC centre negative mains power
- DIMENSIONS 76 x 140 x 191mm
- CONTACT fender.com