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Fender Dual Marine Layer Reverb and Duel Pugilist Distortion review

Fender scales up two of its pedalboard favorites and presents players with some seriously tweakable stompbox essentials

Fender Dual Marine Layer Reverb and Duel Pugilist Distortion
(Image: © Fender)

Our Verdict

The Dual Marine Layer Reverb and Duel Pugilist Distortion double up on the control set of their original namesakes as 2-in-1 stompboxes with exceptional tones and versatility.

For

  • The Duel Pugilist offers a unique blend of overdrive and distortion.
  • It's hugely versatile, too.
  • The Dual Marine is a superb option for everyday reverb.
  • Hardy builds.
  • Expanded feature sets.

Against

  • Soundscape artists might want a more niche reverb.
  • Metal maniacs might want a more crazy high-gain distortion.
  • They are quite large pedals.

Once you discover the bevy of stompboxes Fender has brought to the effects party since 2018, you may wonder, where was my invitation? Well, I say it’s never too late to get in on the action, because two of them – the Marine Layer Reverb and the Pugilist Distortion – seem to have noticeably struck a chord among many players in the know.

But now Fender has decided to take a “more the merrier” approach to this shindig by releasing the Dual Marine Layer Reverb and Duel Pugilist Distortion. Both duplicate the original pedals’ control sets (combined with unique options and special features) for two independent settings or voicings that you can footswitch between in a single dual-format stompbox, proving it’s much better to double your pleasure.

Features

Both stompboxes come in a lightweight anodized aluminum housing with Fender’s standout fitting of LED-backlit knobs that illuminate brightly.

Like the original, the Dual Marine Layer Reverb offers the same Hall, Room and Shimmer reverbs selected via a three-position “Type” mini-switch; but you can now set up separate reverb channels (Reverb A and B) using the two sets of identical controls for Damping, Time, Mod (chorus modulation) and Level, and engaging the “Reverb” footswitch to toggle between those presets. 

There’s no stereo out for the DMLR, but the novel “Sustain” momentary footswitch and its knob is a thoughtful inclusion for ambient prolonging of the reverb’s decay time.  

Fender Dual Marine Layer Reverb and Duel Pugilist Distortion

(Image credit: Fender)

The Duel Pugilist Distortion offers the same heavy-duty dual gain as the original, but now arrives with two independent distortion circuits (Distortion A and B) with Level, Tone and Gain controls for each and separate footswitches (A and B). 

The real show-stopper is the “Mode” switch for three versatile “routing” options: Mute, Series and Bypass (Parallel). Mute allows for crafting one distortion (A) and the ability to layer an additional one (B) on top of it for more burly complexity similar to a boost.

Series is your typical mode for stacking two distortions as if they were two separate pedals, and Bypass enables you to blend two different distortions from the A and B circuits using the onboard Blend knob, or even a clean sound with a distorted tone. For additional tonal sculpting, the DPD includes a master shelving EQ with High and Low controls.

Fender Dual Marine Layer Reverb and Duel Pugilist Distortion

(Image credit: Fender)

Performance

There’s been an uptick and fervor for reverb pedals that go past the cavernous depths in favor of ones that reach deep space and beyond. And if the outer limits of ’verb is your destination, then the Dual Marine Layer Reverb may fall short of your expectations, but that’s not to say it should be overlooked. 

If anything, the Dual Marine Layer Reverb is an immersive reverb meant to enhance your guitar tone, and one where you can easily craft expressively ambient and dreamlike ’verbs that can be infinitely sustained. 

The way I hear it, deep, deeper and deepest (with reflections), is the best way to describe the Room, Hall and Shimmer reverbs respectively – but keep in mind, you can only choose one reverb “type” to footswitch between your two presets. 

No matter what reverb you select, turning the Damping and Time knobs clockwise will generate a chasmic and dimensional sound with shorter and tighter reverb tails, but decreasing the Damping knob counterclockwise (toward no damping) will provoke a sustained and drifting reverb tail that many shoegazers will find musically useable, and holding down the Sustain footswitch will hold down that regenerative shimmer endlessly.

Another highlight is the Mod knob for its warm choral effect that never leans toward syrupy or detuned, and keeping it midway makes your reverb tone lush without sounding overly affected. For its airy wash of reverbs it provides, not to mention having two footswitchable settings at your disposal, I find the Dual Marine Layer Reverb to be an essential bread-and-butter reverb rather than one of those special-effects generators.

For the pedal purveyors that deal in dirt, most (like myself) will find the Duel Pugilist Distortion a satisfyingly worthy contender in the middleweight distortion division. Obviously, more is more, and having two distortions in one pedal with multiple operating modes makes the DPD an enticing gain box.

For one, the DPD doesn’t sound like anything else as far as other distortions go; it sits somewhere between a beefed-up overdrive and a fat distortion that crunches with plucky grind, all while retaining firm note definition.

The DPD doesn’t sound like anything else as far as other distortions go; it sits somewhere between a beefed-up overdrive and a fat distortion that crunches with plucky grind

It’s quite a musical gain that could replace your favorite overdrive because you can dial it back to achieve much of that Screamer-vibe but without the mid-heavy coloration. And, of course, if you want it to sound ferocious, it does that too, but metalers may want to look elsewhere. 

It has quite a spectrum of gain, and depending on how you route its signal path from its Mode switch, you can use it as a boost or blend or stack it to get plenty of chunky sustain. I loved using it as two separate distortion pedals with the ability to get more filthy as I switched between the A and B footswitches.

Specs

Fender Dual Marine Layer Reverb

  • PRICE: $229 / £199 street
  • TYPE: Reverb pedal
  • FEATURES: Three reverb algorithms and two independent footswitchable settings, plus a sustain switch to trigger infinite shimmering reverb
  • CONTROLS: Three-way Type switch, two sets of Damping, Time, Mod and Level controls for both Reverb A and Reverb B; Sustain; Bypass, Reverb and Sustain, LEDs on/off
  • CONNECTIONS: 1/4" input/output jacks
  • BYPASS: Buffered
  • CONTACT: Fender (opens in new tab) 

Specs

Fender Duel Pugilist Distortion

  • PRICE: $229 / £199 street
  • TYPE: Dual distortion pedal
  • FEATURES: Two independent gain channels with separate footswitches, and three modes for stacking, layering or blending the distortions
  • CONTROLS: Both distortions A and B have controls for Level, Tone and Gain. Global controls comprise EQ, A/B Blend, Low, Mode toggle switch; Bypass, Distortion B, Distortion A footswitches
  • CONNECTIONS: 1/4" input/output jacks
  • BYPASS: True bypass
  • CONTACT: Fender (opens in new tab)

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Paul Riario has been the tech/gear editor and online video presence for Guitar World for over 25 years. Paul is one of the few gear editors who has actually played and owned nearly all the original gear that most guitarists wax poetically about, and has survived this long by knowing every useless musical tidbit of classic rock, new wave, hair metal, grunge, and alternative genres. When Paul is not riding his road bike at any given moment, he remains a working musician, playing in two bands called SuperTrans Am and Radio Nashville.