I love a good overdrive. I also love strange and bizarre fuzz pedals. And anytime a company puts some kind of creative spin on a classic design, it gets my attention. The Cusack Music Tap-A-Fuzz takes their great-sounding Screamer Fuzz pedal and combines it with waveform modulation that adjusts the gain of the pedal in real-time at a rate set via Tap Tempo. You can use the Screamer Fuzz mode by itself for more practical fuzz and overdrive applications or get some wild modulation-like effects by combining the distortion with a rhythmic variation of the gain through selection of one of 24 available wave patterns. It’s a pretty extreme concept. What started out as a joke at Cusack Music has taken form to become the Tap-A-Fuzz. Is this the best overdrive fuzz pedal around? You’ll find out in our Cusack Music Tap-A-Fuzz review.
The Screamer Fuzz is derived from Cusack Music’s own Screamer with is itself derived from a Tube Screamer. The Screamer is known for its exceptional clarity and for having about twice as much gain as a typical Tube Screamer. The Screamer Fuzz replaces the Tone knob of the Screamer with a Fuzz control. This allows the Screamer Fuzz to act as a hybrid fuzz/overdrive pedal with “broken op-amp” fuzz tones available. The Fuzz and Overdrive gain may be combined in various amounts for achieving the perfect fuzzy drive tones. A 3-way selector switch lets you toggle between 3 different modes of clipping to alter the sound and response of the pedal for additional versatility.
Tap Tap Fuzz
Now if having a combination of overdrive and fuzz pedal isn’t enough to satisfy for need for twisted gain, Cusack Music combined the Screamer Fuzz with their Tap-A series to create the Tap-A-Fuzz. It’s like several different guitar pedals in one stompbox. Imagine modulating your gain to create tremolo-like effects and other wild, mechanical, and musical stuttering effects. It’s a lot to take in, so I’ll cover it slowly in the review. But first, let’s run down the features of the Tap-A-Fuzz before we dive in.
Option 8-position selector knob can be used to select Tap Divide, Fade-In of the effect, and Brake Speed.
Level control knob adjusts the overall output of the pedal.
Fuzz control knob adjusts from no fuzz to “Broken Op-Amp” fuzz.
Scream control knob adjusts the maximum gain of the Overdrive which is modulated by the waveform. The minimum gain is dependent on the waveform.
Wave 8-position selector knob selects from 8 different waveforms from the 3 available banks. There are 24 different options available.
Bank 3-way toggle-switch selects from 3 available banks of waveforms which are selected by the Wave knob.
Clip Mode 3-way toggle-switch selects from 3 different diode clipping options: “Stock”, “LED”, and “Crushed”.
Internal Mode Jumper selects between Preset and Live modes. Preset modes allows you to recall specific parameter presets for individual waveforms while in Live mode the current settings apply to all waveforms.
Tap Speed foot-switch adjusts Tap Tempo. It may also be used to slow down and speed up the tempo when held down.
External Tap Tempo RCA jack can be used to Tap In or Out. An external momentary switch may also be used to set tempo remotely.
Sound & Performance:
I grabbed my Strat and dialed in a flat clean amp tone to get acquainted with the Tap-A-Fuzz. By turning the Wave knob all the way to right and setting the bank switch to “C”, you can use the Tap-A-Fuzz without modulation to get a feel for the drive tones this pedal offers. I set the Volume and Scream to noon with the Fuzz rolled down and kicked in the pedal.
The Tap-A-Fuzz instantly produces a very smooth overdriven tone with a hint of bite when you dig in. Flipping between the 3 available clipping modes seems to affect the compression and headroom of the overdrive. It’s good to check out all 3 modes to see which one has the best “feel” for your style of playing. I personally really enjoy the more open sound of the LED (middle) position. Pushing up the Scream knob a bit brings in some edge to this fuzz pedal. It becomes instantly apparent that the Tap-A-Fuzz offers a lot more gain than many overdrives out there, a welcome upgrade if your green “Screamer” isn’t cutting it.
Then there’s the Fuzz. I rolled back the Scream and brought the fuzz to noon. Suddenly, it’s like a whole different pedal. Again, selecting the different clipping modes will offer subtle variations in character. I found some really cutting tone using the “Crushed” mode. The Fuzz at moderate settings also yields some impressive overdrive-type tones. Maxing out the Fuzz delivers some “broken op-amp” fuzz that sputters a bit and fizzles out in a really cool way. The point where this kicks in is right past 3 o’clock, so tweak the Fuzz knob a little to find your preferred sweet spot.
Using both Scream and Fuzz knobs together adds even more interesting results. For all the complexity this pedal offers, the Tap-A-Fuzz really shines as a high-gain overdrive with a bit of fuzzy flavor sprinkled on top. You can get some really great sounds through the combination of fuzz and overdrive just like with the Screamer Fuzz.
Now, there’s a whole other side to this pedal which takes it to entirely different extremes. Using the Wave selector on any other setting in any of the 3 banks produces a modulated pattern that affects the gain level set by the Scream knob. This essentially produces various degrees of throbbing, wobbling, and glitched-out stuttering effects. It can be intense and challenging to wrap your head around at first, but it pays off if you’re the kind of guitarist who loves tempo-synced rhythmic effects. It’s much easier to grasp than you may think.
I recommend starting with the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, waveform in the second bank as these start with full gain on the 1st beats and have more straight-forward rhythm patterns. One of the best things about the Tap-A-Fuzz is how it starts the waveform from the beginning when you engage the effect. Tap in a tempo and activate the effect to hear what I mean. This is extremely useful when playing to tempo-synced music.
There are plenty of strange and bizarre waveforms that may inspire some very interesting riffs. You can use the Tap-A-Fuzz to build entire sections of songs with the inspiration it provides. The Option knob will allow you to select the tap divide rate for a straight or triplet feel. There are 8 tap divide options available, so you’ll have no problem finding what you need to lock into the rhythm of a song.
The Option knob also serves a few different functions. With the effect disengaged, you can use the Option knob to set the speed at which the effect fades in after engaging the Tap-A-Fuzz. Push and hold the Tap Speed foot-switch, and the Option knob will set the Brake Speed.
While using modulation you can push and hold the Tap Speed foot-switch to engage the Brake Function, slowing down the tempo of the modulation while the button is held down. Release the button and the tempo stays where you left it. Push and hold the button again and it speeds up. This is another nifty little performance feature.
It’s also worth mentioning that you can save presets to each waveform. When you work out which settings you use on a waveform, you may want to save the settings to recall for use in a particular song. You can save the Fade-In, Brake Speed, Tap Divide, and Tempo. After saving some settings you like, you can switch to Preset Mode via an internal Jumper switch. Then picking a waveform instantly recalls its preset. The Tap-A-Fuzz will be a powerful performance tool for those who harness the creative potential of this pedal.
I really like the Tap-A-Fuzz. It’s full of interesting performance possibilities. As a fuzz/overdrive it excels. The modulation possibilities make it one of the more interesting pedals out there. Let’s see the final result.
The Cusack Music Tap-A-Fuzz is pedal for those who want all-out overdriven fuzz and can appreciate the innovative real-time gain modulation abilities this pedal offers. The distortion sounds are great and usable in a wide range of applications while the modulation takes this pedal to new horizons of creative potential. The Screamer Fuzz, from which this pedal is derived, is already one of the best overdrive/fuzz pedals around. If you like great fuzz and distortion sounds and crave interesting modulation effects, definitely check out the Cusack Music Tap-A-Fuzz.
That concludes our Cusack Music Tap-A-Fuzz review. Thanks for reading.
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