The Dapper Dark from Valeton is a multi-effects strip that packs a ton of features into a small, sturdy package. You get a tuner, boost, high gain distortion, noise gate, chorus and tap tempo delay. Oh, and let’s not forget the FX loop and cab sim!

So who is Valeton? They’re a reasonably new company that comes from the design and build teams of well-known company MI, and specialise in compact effects pedals. There are several different models in the Dapper series to suit bass and various genres of the guitar. The Dapper Dark is specifically designed to suit the heavier end of metal.

What drew me to this pedal was the size, features, and price – at approx $260 (on eBay), the features alone are worth it. Standouts for me are the distortion, noise gate, and delay.

  • Distortion for me has been an eternal “chasing the flame” thing, and I’m very picky about it. The Dark’s distortion does not disappoint and the EQ takes you all the way from thick to cutting.
  • The noise gate, a single knob built into the distortion circuit, works very well!
  • I love delay, and delay pedals are kind of a fetish of mine. Going into it, I had low expectations of the Dark because of size and price, but was quickly put in my place! The tap tempo delay has a smooth analog feel and doesn’t get muddy, even when used with distortion. It is a quality delay that is more than capable.

So how does it play in a real world setting? I took it to our last out-of-town gig and we were all packed into my car, so space was a premium. The Dark was safely tucked away in my guitar case, power adapter and all. The venue provided a Randall modular head that I’d never seen or used before, so I dialed in a clean sound on it, tweaked the Dark’s distortion, and away we went! It actually sounded pretty sweet, and after the show, I got positive feedback from my bandmates, as well as folks in the crowd (there’s always guitar nerds at shows, I love it).

While I think the Dark sounds great and is total bang-for-buck, there are things that annoy me. I don’t want to get too picky because it really is decent value, but they do annoy me, so here goes.

  • The tuner is unreliable. I tuned up on stage, ready to start and the guitar wasn’t in tune. Tried a few more times and still had issues.
  • The EQ confuses me. Let’s take bass, for example: if it’s close to just being on, there’s no bass; turn it a little bit more and all the bass comes in. It’s like an all-or-nothing kind of scenario. Not sure if this is a design thing or just how it is.
  • On stage, the labels of the knobs are impossible to read which makes it difficult to bend down and tweak the pedal on the fly.

That’s the Dapper Dark from Valeton – a super small, feature-packed, excellent value-for-money multi-effects strip. If you’re into playing metal guitar, this little bad boy is worth checking out! Great for an emergency backup, practicing at home or clubbing home intruders in the head with because it is built like a tank!