ZVex Fuzz Factory 7 Review – Best Fuzz Distortion Pedal?

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The ZVex Fuzz Factory was already one of the best, if not the best, fuzz distortion pedal of the past 20 years. Not content with this established legacy, ZVex brought us the Fat Fuzz Factory in early 2013, same as the original Fuzz Factory but with 2 additional oscillation modes for even “fatter” fuzz sounds. The Fat Fuzz Factory took a great thing and made it better. And if that wasn’t enough, Zachary Vex found a stash of old 1956 Amperex black glass germanium transistors and thought it would be a cool idea to create yet another Fuzz Factory pedal to show them off. The result is the Fuzz Factory 7.

The Fuzz Factory 7 features 2 additional knobs when compared to the original Fuzz Factory and Fat Fuzz Factory, a 9-position Sub knob and a Tone control that’s activated by its own dedicated foot-switch. The Sub knob expands upon the Fat Fuzz Factory’s 3-position Sub flip-switch with even lower oscillation modes and well as a few ultra high positions that approach dog whistle territory. The Tone knob is a passive tone control that acts like a low-pass filter to reduce the high end content of the fuzz. Theoretically, there will also be some slight tonal variations between the Fuzz Factory 7 and the original/Fat Fuzz Factory pedals thanks to the unique transistors in this pedal. The other Fuzz Factory pedals are classics. Is the Fuzz Factory 7 the new best fuzz distortion pedal available? Read on fuzz lovers and find out in our ZVex Fuzz Factory 7 review.

ZVex-Fuzz-Factory-7-Review-Best-Fuzz-Distortion-Pedal-04Features:

2 ultra rare 1956 Amperex black glass germanium transistors.

9-position rotary sub “FAT” knob for dialing in oscillation and character response.

Foot-switchable Tone control and dedicated knob unique to the Fuzz Factory 7.

Has all 5 original Fuzz Factory controls: Volume, Gate, Comp (compression), Drive, & Stab (stability).

True bypass foot-switch for letting your signal pass unaffected when disengaged.

Powered by 9VDC power adapter or 9-volt battery (current draw typically less than 10mA but may be as high as 50mA on some settings).

Visit ZVex for more info about the Fuzz Factory 7.

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Sound & Performance:

ZVex-Fuzz-Factory-7-Review-Best-Fuzz-Distortion-Pedal-02

This pedal is a beast. After playing so many different fuzz pedals, I’ve come to realize certain things I like and dislike about them. The Fat Fuzz Factory already nailed most of the things I like: heaps of gain, clean up (on some settings!), a gate function, saturated fuzz and buzzy velcro fuzz tones, tightness for rhythm playing, and plenty of volume output and headroom (more than any guitarist will ever need). Check out our ZVex Fat Fuzz Factory review to get some history if you need to. So the Fuzz Factory 7 is essentially a variation on a very good theme, one of the most solid fuzz foundations ever created. There are 3 essential points to cover here, the sound and feel of the Fuzz Factory 7’s Amperex transistors versus the standard germanium transistors found in the original/Fat Fuzz Factory, the merits of the FF7’s Tone control and implementation, and the 9-position Sub oscillation knob.

First, let’s talk about the tones of the FF7 compared to the FFF. Mr. Vex himself was impressed with the characteristics of the rare batch of transistors he found. I am in agreement here. The Fuzz Factory 7 sounds awesome. The 12 o’clock Sub position on the Fuzz Factory 7 generally sounds closest to the stock Fuzz Factory (FFF Sub setting 1), so that’s where I did most of my comparing. To sum up my tone comparisons of the Fuzz Factory 7 vs Fat Fuzz Factory, I’d have to say that they’re quite similar although I hear a slightly more aggressive yet warm fuzz tone from the FF7. (Descriptions can’t compare to hearing for yourself. Watch our YouTube video!) Also, while the gain drops sharply on the Fat Fuzz Factory when turning the Drive down past around 3 o’clock, Fuzz Factory 7 has a smoother sweep of gain throughout its Drive knob’s range. Even on its lowest Drive setting, the FF7 still delivers plenty of saturation, a little more than the Fat Fuzz Factory even. Also, when cutting back my guitar’s volume knob slightly with the FF7 on extreme gain settings, the pedal actually opens up a little, revealing an even more “open” sound with less noticeable compression. While it’s hard to say one pedal sounds “better” than the other, there’s a little extra mojo in the FF7 that wins my favor. In most cases it seems that they sound quite similar on around the same settings with a slight movement of a given knob helping one to emulate the other a little better. But the Fuzz Factory 7 does have a couple bonuses that expand its tones into completely new territory: the 9-position Fat sub dial and Tone control. Just know that the FF7’s black glass transistors are golden, and whether or not you personally think they’re “better” than the standard NOS germanium transistors in the Fat Fuzz Factory, you’ll be happy to hear that this pedal still sounds generally like the Fuzz Factory you may already know and love. That’s a very good thing.

ZVex-Fuzz-Factory-7-Review-Best-Fuzz-Distortion-Pedal-03The 9-position Fat sub knob draws inspiration from the Fat Fuzz Factory’s 3-position Subs switch but takes it further in both directions. The extended low oscillation range also makes the FF7 fun to use with octave pedals or bass guitars. Even rhythmic chord progressions will benefit from an overall added fatness on the lower Sub settings. The FF7 also maintains a bit more tightness on lower sub settings compared to the FFF. If you dial in some vecro style fuzz tones the Sub becomes integral in shaping the overall timbre of your sound. On the higher Sub settings you can really thin out the low-end to make room or your other guitarist or bass player or to just achieve some wickedly cool, piercing fuzz tones. The original Fuzz Factory and Fat Fuzz Factory were already a couple of the most versatile fuzz pedals around. The Fuzz Factory 7 is perhaps the most overall flexible fuzz pedal I’ve ever plugged into.

The Tone control is a vital asset to the Fuzz Factory 7. It’s actually surprisingly transparent, too. I was concerned that since it was given its own dedicated foot-switch, perhaps it would color the sound in a way that might make guitarists want to bypass it when not needed. That’s not the case at all. If you leave it on at the fully clockwise position, you most likely will not hear any indication that it’s in your signal chain until you turn it counter-clockwise towards noon and lower. The knob has a utility mainly for cutting the treble frequencies if the high Sub positions are too painful for your ears (or those of your audience). But the knob adds a general utility to the FF7’s fuzz even at the central or lower Sub positions. I’ve never had issues with the Fat Fuzz Factory’s high end being too shrill or harsh, but the Fuzz Factory 7’s Tone knob is quite handy for rolling off the treble for a warmer fuzz sound. And if you ever did think the other Fuzz Factory pedals were too bright for your tastes, the Fuzz Factory 7’s Tone knob may be just what it needed to make the FF7 your next must have fuzz pedal. I am very happy that it’s here as will be any guitarist who appreciates the additional control over their upper frequencies.

If you’ve never played a Fuzz Factory pedal it’s important to understand that the Fuzz Factory 7 is a bit different from your typical distortion or fuzz pedal. Using this pedal isn’t a matter of simply cranking the Drive control and setting your output level. The controls of the FF7 are highly interactive and offer an infinite palette of sounds therein. The Comp (Compression) and Stab (Stability) controls affect the transistor bias and voltage of the pedal, affecting your sound in interesting and sometimes bizarre ways. The Gate control is handy in that it eliminates background noise in your signal, useful with higher Drive settings. It also reigns in the insanity if you stumble across some crazy oscillating tones unexpectedly (although this can sometimes be a good thing!). But these controls behave differently depending on the settings of other knobs. A little experimentation will go a long way towards coaxing traditional tones and unorthodox noises from this pedal. These wildly diverse sounds are part of the beauty of the Fuzz Factory 7 and help make it the kind of pedal that every guitarist can tweak to their individual liking.

There isn’t much not to like about this pedal. Sure, stumbling upon ear-ripping noise may be jarring when you’re not expecting it, but once you’ve made sense of how the controls interact, you’ll be able to control the chaos. Be sure to memorize or write down settings you like as there are plenty of sweet spots that can be lost once you change the settings. The Fuzz Factory is worth the effort as few guitar pedals offer such a wide range of interesting fuzz effects for guitar.

Let’s see the final result.

ZVex-Fuzz-Factory-7-Review-Best-Fuzz-Distortion-Pedal-05

Overall-Rating-5.0

The ZVex Fuzz Factory 7 is one of the most flexible, unique, and inspiring fuzz pedals you’ll ever play. From smooth fuzz textures to buzzing velcro fuzz and even oscillating extreme fuzz insanity, the Fuzz Factory 7 provides an endless playground of tone for guitarists who appreciate the entire spectrum of colorful fuzz distortion. There are so many facets to this pedal that you will continuously find yourself discovering new sounds each time you pick up your guitar. The FF7 offers a very rewarding playing experience to those who like to experiment with new guitar sounds. Plug one in and see if you think it’s the best fuzz distortion pedal you’ve ever played. The Fuzz Factory 7 happens to be my new favorite fuzz pedal.

That concludes our ZVex Fuzz Factory 7 review. Thanks for reading.

 

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El Rey Effects Mystic Ouija Fuzz Review – Best Fuzz/Distortion Pedal?

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I’ve been really intrigued by El Rey Effects lately. James and Co. have a passion for creating great high-quality boutique effects that are within reach of guitarists on a budget. And the cool supernatural styling of their latest offerings, the Mystic Ouija Fuzz and Fuzz de la Muerte, adds to the unique vibe and growing reputation of their distinguished repertoire of guitar pedals.

The Mystic Ouija fuzz promises to span the range of overdrive to fuzz distortion and features LED and diode clipping options to augment the massive amounts of gain on tap. But how does it sound? Is it the best fuzz/distortion pedal around? You’ll find out in our El Rey Effects Mystic Ouija Fuzz review. Here’s a quick rundown of the features of the pedal before we consult the oracle of fuzz.

El-Rey-Effects-Mystic-Ouija-Fuzz-Review-Best-Fuzz-Distortion-Pedal-02Features:

“Yes” control knob adjusts fuzz level. Low settings produce slightly overdriven sounds. Clockwise settings produce more intense fuzz effects.

Center control knob adjusts the tone of the fuzz. Lower settings deliver more bass response. Clockwise settings produce tones with more treble.

“No” control knob adjusts overall output volume.

3-way selector switch adjusts the clipping of the fuzz between asymmetrical diode clipping (top), symmetrical diode clipping (middle), and asymmetrical LED clipping (bottom).

True bypass footswitch allows signal to pass unaffected when disengaged.

Powered by 9-volt battery or 9VDC power adapter.

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Sound & Performance:

The El Rey Effects Mystic Ouija Fuzz is one of those pedals that blurs distinction. Similar to how the Pro Co Rat2 and Electro Harmonix Big Muff Pi have a character that’s somewhere between fuzz and distortion, the Mystic Ouija Fuzz follows suit. This pedal has a voice that’s quite unique from most fuzz pedals. Considering this pedal’s standout appearance, it’s fitting that the Mystic Ouija Fuzz would boast tones that set it apart from the crowded market of fuzz and distortion pedals.

The 3-way selector switch up by the moon provides a basis for affecting the initial tone and response of the pedal. I find that the top-most position, asymmetrical diode clipping, produces a bigger, more open response. The middle symmetrical diode clipping option, while sometimes hard to discern from the top setting, provides a subtle variation from the top setting. The bottom-most position alters the sound of the pedal with asymmetrical LED clipping, resulting in a more focused fuzz tone. The LED clipping drops the volume a bit, so a slight increase in output (“No”) is necessary to compensate. The LED and diode clipping options are equally usable and which setting is best is subject to individual guitarists’ tastes. Since they all sound great, you’ll probably find yourself preferring one setting and going back to another later.

At the lowest fuzz settings the Mystic Ouija Fuzz still produces a hefty amount of overdrive tone to give your guitar sound some muscle. It’s definitely a step up from mild overdrive and has a distinctive coloring that will augment your tone in interesting ways. For the school of guitarists that appreciates how an overdrive with its own unique voice can compliment your tone, the Mystic Ouija Fuzz serves up some very enticing tones worth exploring. The center tone control serves the most in affecting your sound, and a setting somewhere in the 10 o’clock to 2 o’clock range will cover a wide range of sounds for most purposes.

Bringing up the “Yes” knob just a little wakes up the pedal with a brighter, grittier top end. From about 8 o’clock all the way to 3 o’clock, the distortion increases evenly and gradually. At moderate “Yes” settings the Mystic Ouija Fuzz produces a pleasing distorted saturation that has a hint of fuzzy roundness to the sound. The top-end cuts through with refined note definition for a distortion sound that’s great for tight riff stabs. The bottom end also has a softer, spongier feel that’ll be at home in “doomier” styles of heavy fuzz riffage. While I typically prefer a more percussive low end, something about the Mystic Ouija Fuzz’s slightly loose bottom just works. Whether used on it’s own as your sole fuzz/distortion pedal or layered on a recording with other dirt sounds, the Mystic Ouija Fuzz offers some seriously good tones here that can be used in all kinds of settings.

Cranking the fuzz by diming the “Yes” knob brings in the full wrath of this pedal. The Mystic Ouija Fuzz summons an aggressive fuzz distortion sound from beyond the world of the living, infusing your tone with a supernatural distortion sound like no other. With all the flavors of distortion and fuzz out there, it’s refreshing to discover a pedal every now and then that really offers something a little different from the standard fare. The noise floor comes up a little on the highest gain settings, but you’ll be rocking the Mystic too hard to notice. And again, the 3-way switch will let you open up the sound with the diode clipping settings or sharpen your tone a bit with the LED clipping.

El Rey Effects did a real fine job with this one. The Mystic Ouija Fuzz already had a good thing going with its superstition-inducing design, but I’m very happy to report that this pedal really delivers where it counts most in the sound department. It also happens to be one of my personal favorite distortion pedals. Let’s see the final result.

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Overall-Rating-4.5

The El Rey Effects Mystic Ouija Fuzz stands apart from other distortion pedals with a unique fuzz/distortion voicing all its own. Not to mention this pedal will certainly draw some attention with curious looks at your pedalboard thanks to its cool ouija board graphics. The versatility of this pedal lies in its wide range of gain sensitivity and excellent sweeping tone control that’ll help you find the perfect fuzz sound for your mix. An assortment of clipping options rounds out the sounds of this great sounding yet easy to use pedal. Looking for the best fuzz/distortion pedal? Consult the Mystic Ouija Fuzz for the answer if you dare.

That concludes our El Rey Effects Mystic Ouija Fuzz review. Thanks for reading.

 

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SolidGoldFX Formula 76 Review – Best “Super/Standard” Fuzz Pedal?

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There are plenty of octave up fuzz pedals out there, but few of them offer as much raging fuzz tenacity as the SolidGoldFX Formula 76. This pedal was inspired by classic mid 70’s Japanese octave up fuzz pedals such as the Super Fuzz and Standard Fuzz but adds more control and extreme sound-mangling capabilities for a take-no-prisoners onslaught of fuzz.

Guitarists familiar with iterations of the Super Fuzz/Standard Fuzz will immediately notice the sonic similarities between those pedals and the sounds of the Formula 76. The Formula 76 features a similar Germanium Diode clipped fuzz sound, hot-rodded with the ability to sculpt unique fuzz tones of its own. While those classic pedals were limited by few control parameters, SolidGoldFX have refined on the classic template by allowing you to dial in settings for Compression and Tone levels. A foot-switch operated Tone switch also selects between a bottom heavy mid-scooped sound and a slightly higher output mid-boosted tone that may be used in conjunction with the Tone knob for shaping your overall fuzz sound.

For a fuzz in the vein of those classic pedals, the SolidGoldFX Formula 76 looks like it’s taking it to a whole new level. Is this the best Super Fuzz/Standard Fuzz pedal clone around? You’ll find out in our SolidGoldFX Formula 76 review. Let’s run down the features of this raucous pedal and crank it up.

SolidGoldFX-Formula-76-Review-Best-Super-Standard-Fuzz-Pedal-02Features:

Modern take on classic 70’s octave up pedals such as the Ibanez Standard Fuzz and Univox Super Fuzz.

Fuzz control knob for adjusting amount of distortion.

Comp control knob adjusts overall compression and response.

Tone control knob adjusts the amount of top end.

Level control knob adjusts the output volume level.

Tone foot-switch selects between a mid-scoop and mid-boosted tone.

True Bypass foot-switch allows signal to pass unaffected when disengaged.

Powered by 9-volt batter or 9VDC power adapter.

Visit SolidGoldFX for more info about the Formula 76.

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Sound & Performance:

If you’re not familiar with the Super Fuzz and Standard Fuzz pedals that are the inspiration of the Formula 76, have a quick gander around the web at some of the videos available. These pedals have become highly regarded for their great octave up fuzz tones and aggressive fuzz sounds. While many clones exist (even the Standard Fuzz is a variation of the Super Fuzz), SolidGoldFX have really made a great effort to create a unique design inspired by these classic pedals. While the Formula 76 is great for capturing the vibe of the classic Standard Fuzz and Super Fuzz pedals, it really excels in taking that concept to the next level in terms of tone-tweaking and aggressive fuzz chaos.

I ran the Formula 76 straight into a flat sounding clean amp and fed it various combinations of single-coils and humbuckers. It chewed them up accordingly and spit out massive amounts of fuzzy carnage. SolidGoldFX warns that this is a “rude” fuzz that is in no way “polite” or “refined”. But don’t worry. That’s a good thing. This pedal is a monster, a beast worth taming if you like your fuzz extreme.

With the knobs at noon, I fired up the Formula 76 to get a taste of the pedal’s unique flavor. It is unmistakeably apparent that this pedal serves up heaps of in-your-face fuzz. The Formula 76 has a thick, splatty fuzz sound that delivers plenty of punch even on more restrained settings. When playing low on the neck through your bridge pickup, you’ll get some nice fuzzy rhythm tones. When playing single notes through your neck pickup high up the neck, you’ll hear the octave up sounds really come through.

The Tone knob is actually a high-end cut, so having it around noon provides a bit of a darker character. Pushing it all the way to the right opens up the pedal a bit, so its full range of sound can come through. I rather like the wide-open sound of the Tone knob all the way clockwise, but if it gets a little too harsh on the top, you can easily attenuate it to your liking.

The Comp knob will also help with opening up your sound a bit or completely squashing it, depending on your twisted fuzz needs. Between the range of 2 o’clock to maxed out is where you’ll notice the most effect on the feel and response. When maxing it out, a little boost of the Volume knob with compensate for any loss in volume. The compression sounds surprising good and is useable throughout its range for rhythm and lead sounds. It also seems to reduce the high-end response when you really put the pressure on at extreme settings.

The fuzz sounds range from quite dirty to pretty extreme. There’s nothing really mild about this pedal. At lower Fuzz and Comp settings with the Tone rolled clockwise, you can achieve more articulate fuzz rhythm tones. Pushing the Fuzz clockwise past noon yields a sound that starts to gel together your notes a bit more. The Fuzz, Tone, and Comp controls really work together to effectively shape the sound and response of the Formula 76, resulting in a very wide range of tonal variety. And that’s before even kicking on the Tone foot-switch.

The Tone foot-switch takes the tone-shaping power of this pedal to new territory. Kicking in the switch produces a fat bottom end sound that really beefs up the low-end of the frequency spectrum. While octave up effects are typically used for single note phrases, try playing notes high up the neck on 2 adjacent strings to hear the 3rd ring-mod like tone produced. With the Tone Switch engaged, the extra bottom end really accentuates that sub frequency for some really cool fuzz effects. You can also try cutting back the Tone knob for a really bass-heavy fuzz sound. Crank the Comp knob to lock it down even more. The Tone Switch reshapes the EQ of the pedal for instant access to an entirely different sound and rewards experimentation with the other control knobs.

The Formula 76 is a killer fuzz (as is their If 6 Was 9 if you’re looking for something more “Fuzz Face” style). The Canadian guitar pedal experts at Solid Gold FX certainly know a thing or two about making awesome guitar fuzzes. Let’s see the final result.

SolidGoldFX-Formula-76-Review-Best-Super-Standard-Fuzz-Pedal-03

Overall-Rating-4.5

The SolidGoldFX Formula 76 captures the vibe and appeal of the classic Super Fuzz and Standard Fuzz pedals while offering far more possibilities for crafting extreme fuzz tones. More than just a clone, the Formula 76 takes the concept to a whole new level for those who want radically aggressive fuzz tones. If octave up fuzz tones are what you’re after, the Formula 76 features some of the best I’ve ever heard. Want the best Super Fuzz / Standard Fuzz pedal? Audition the SolidGoldFX Formula 76 first.

That concludes our SolidGoldFX Formula 76 review. Thanks for reading.

 

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Dr. Scientist Frazz Dazzler Review – Best Fuzz Distortion Pedal?

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There’s something quite alluring about the peculiar pedals coming from the Canadian husband and wife duo collectively known as Dr. Scientist. Their guitar pedals are hand-made from the highest quality components, are superbly functional, and are simply stunning to behold. The Dr. Scientist Frazz Dazzler is no exception. It’s a modern take on a Silicon-based fuzz with several enhancements such as soft touch switching, a Mix control, and dual gain modes, resulting in quite an interesting little fuzz box. It’s always refreshing to see companies putting a modern spin on classic designs, and the Frazz Dazzler looks like it has a lot going for it. Is it the best fuzz distortion pedal around? We’ll blast off in space to find out, but first let’s run down the features before we proceed to our in-depth Dr. Scientist Frazz Dazzler review.

Dr-Scientist-Frazz-Dazzler-Review-Best-Fuzz-Distortion-Pedal-02Features:

Gain knob controls the amount of distortion imposed upon your signal.

Sizzle knob controls the amount of treble content on the wet signal.

Volume knob controls the level of the wet signal.

Mix knob blends between your dry/clean signal and the wet/distorted signal.

Toggle switch adjusts between 2 fuzz gain settings: low/medium gain and medium/high gain with gating effect.

Internal trim pot adjusts bass response +/- 15dB at 100Hz.

True Bypass using soft touch switch and relay.

Powered via 9VDC adapter.

Visit Dr. Scientist for more info about the Frazz Dazzler.

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Sound & Performance:

I went for the Strat as per usual when testing a fuzz pedal for the first time. I dialed in a flat, clean amp tone and set the knobs on the Frazz Dazzler to noon with the exception of the Mix control which I rolled clockwise for a 100% wet sound.

Upon activating the Frazz Dazzler, it becomes immediately apparent that this pedal has a very refined and modern fuzz tone. Translation: this pedal totally rocks and produces wicked fuzzy overdrive sounds with ease. The Frazz Dazzler has a full, thick sound that packs plenty of punch and authority while remaining tight and focused.

The Frazz Dazzler also cleans up very well with a subtle twist of your guitar’s volume knob. It’s remarkably dynamic and expressive. There’s enough versatility here for full-on rock power chords and tasteful lead playing. The sensitivity of the Frazz Dazzler to your playing dynamics makes this pedal very conducive to those moments when inspiration strikes and your music is suddenly taken in a different direction.

The Sizzle knob is very useful for shaping your tone by allowing you to dial in your preferred top-end response. You can roll it fully clockwise for some full-range tones or back off a bit to darken your sound for some warm vintage-like flavor. I like it maxed out for a full top-end that compliments the full bass response of the pedal. It has a very vintage, yet modern tone that is classic and cutting edge at the same time.

Flipping the Toggle-switch brings in a higher dose of gain for you fuzz extremists out there. It has a massive tone that is absolutely crushing. If the low-end is too extreme for you, you can use the internal trim pot to cut it back a bit. The Frazz Dazzler also allows you to boost the bass to punish your audience with a massive low-end onslaught. The Frazz Dazzler’s higher gain mode also benefits from a built-in gate function which will keep this apocalyptic robot of doom from running rampant. It’s certainly one of the more intense fuzz pedals out there.

Another intriguing feature of the Frazz Dazzler is the Mix control which allows you to blend the dry and wet signals to taste. This is useful for adding in some clean dry tone to your fuzz for extra clarity. You can also use an expression pedal to fade the fuzz in and out of your signal, a very useful option for those who like to get creative with their distorted textures. The Mix knob also makes this pedal a great choice for use with bass as you can preserve your low-end and still have plenty of fuzz present in your overall sound.

The Frazz Dazzler even works well when stacked with with other pedals. I used the Frazz Dazzler in conjunction with Dr. Scientist’s The Elements for distortion and EQ and achieved plenty of great sounding tones. It’s definitely worth trying with your favorite dirt pedals or in front of an overdriven amp.

Let’s see the final result.

Dr-Scientist-Frazz-Dazzler-Review-Best-Fuzz-Distortion-Pedal-03

Overall-Rating-4.0

The Dr. Scientist Frazz Dazzler is a space-age fuzz of intergalactic proportions. It can do higher gain fuzz and still clean up well with a twist of your guitar’s volume knob. If you want more extreme fuzz, flick the gain switch and enjoy the gated fuzz chaos that ensues. Guitarists and bassists alike will enjoy the ability to blend in your dry tone via the Mix control for fuzz sounds with added clarity. All in all, if you’re looking for the best fuzz distortion pedal around, the Dr. Scientist Frazz Dazzler may be just the pedal to fit your needs.

That concludes our Dr. Scientist Frazz Dazzler review. Thanks for reading.

 

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Rainger FX Dr Freakenstein Fuzz DrFF-3 (and Igor) Review – Most Extreme Fuzz?

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There’s something about Rainger FX that stands apart from most manufacturers of guitar pedals. While some companies design outlandish effects every now and then, they primarily do that on the side it seems while providing more traditional effects as standard. Not Rainger FX. Everything they make is extreme, otherworldly, and not traditional by any standard. And their pedals are just simply downright “cool”. The Rainger FX Dr Freakenstein Fuzz DrFF-3 (and Igor) is one of their flagship offerings, being an extreme fuzz pedal with a few very non-traditional uses. It just might be the most extreme fuzz pedal around.

It’s Alive!

This pedal is not for the faint of heart. It has one primary fuzz distortion setting: Full on! In the Rainger FX F.A.Q., when asked if the fuzz could be turned down, David replied, “No. Why would you?” When approaching this pedal, just know that the Dr Freakenstein Fuzz DrFF-3 is a monster. Be weary of awakening this beast. Once you throw the switch, all hell will be unleashed. Before we bring this monster to life in our full Rainger FX Dr Freakenstein Fuzz DrFF-3 (and Igor) review, let’s run down the features real quick.

Rainger-FX-Dr-Freakenstein-Fuzz-DrFF-3-Review-Most-Extreme-Fuzz-02Features:

Colossal wall-of-fuzz sound.

Gated fuzz for total silence between notes.

Knifeswitch powers up the unit by throwing the knife switch manually. In the “Up” position no power is drawn from the battery.

VOL. control knob adjusts the output volume.

OSC. control knob changes the harmonic overtone of the sound, producing various filtered effects.

MOD. Switch disables OSC. Control knob, switching the on RATE control knob to allow the Oscillation to move back and forth.

RATE control knob controls the speed of the MOD oscillator, it’s frequency shown by the flashing white and red meter backlights.

HI/LO pushbutton changes the effect from a low intensity to a high intensity overtone.

IGOR:

Dr Freakenstein’s assistant is Igor. It’s a foot-controlled pressure pad. Igor may be plugged into the OSC. Input on the back panel to control the OSC. (bypassing the knob). Igor may be plugged into the MOD. RANGE Input to control the bias of the modulation oscillator; the harder you press, the higher the range sweep.

Powered by 9-Volt batter or 9VDC power adapter.

True Bypass footswitch for letting your signal pass unaffected when disengaged.

Visit Rainger FX for more info about the Dr Freakenstein DrFF-3 (and Igor).

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Sound & Performance:

I pulled out my Strat, dialed in a nice clean amp sound, and put the Dr Freakenstein between. Then I threw the Killswitch and brought the monster to life. It’s Alive!

This pedal roars with a massive barrage of fuzzed out noise. It’s all or nothing with the DrFF-3, but all is certainly a good thing. The Dr Freakenstein delivers wave and wave of thick fuzz that’s loose and spongy, yet abruptly tight thanks to the gate effect that cuts off the sound between notes. It’s this gated effect that keeps the monster from running free, added a certain amount of dynamic control to this chaotic fuzz pedal.

The OSC. knob is the key to dialing in your sound. Moving the knob through its range lets you hone in on certain frequency overtones that sound appealing according to how you’re using the pedal at any given time. The amount of complex tones available by adjustment of the OSC. knob makes the Dr Freakenstein DrFF-3 a real gem to have in the studio for layering some really unique-sounding textures. But it’s even more rewarding in a spontaneous jam situation. Simply find a tone that sounds cool and see what kind of playing it inspires. The DrFF-3 is the kind of fuzz for the guitarist who likes to defy tradition in favor of radical new sonic territories.

Rainger-FX-Dr-Freakenstein-Fuzz-DrFF-3-Review-Most-Extreme-Fuzz-03The sounds produced are certainly intense, but with careful attenuation of the pedal’s VOLUME knob, you can match unity gain for a sound that isn’t too overwhelming. The Dr Freakenstein sings with a smooth fuzz saturation that’s great for lead lines and solos as well as thick chordal rhythms. Since the pedal is heavily-gated, you’ll typically want to play with your guitar’s volume knob all the way up. However, cut it back a little if you like that splatty, dying signal effect.

Flipping the RATE switch makes things even more interesting by adding some movement to your sound. This switch overrides the OSC. knob, sweeping through the range of oscillation in a rhythm set by the rate knob. The RATE and MOD. functions allow the Dr Freakenstien Fuzz to add phasing-like movement to your sound that’s quite unlike any traditional modulation effect.

The HI/LO pushbutton is useful for shaping the overall character and sound of the Dr Freakenstein by simply switching the harmonic overtone from high to low intensity. In the HI position the OSC. is more intense and higher pitched. When using the MOD. function on the HI setting, the sweep extends to much higher range for more extreme sounds. The LO function is lower in frequency as is to be expected. The MOD. effects are bit more subtle in this setting.

Before we dive into the full use of the Igor functionality, there’s a neat trick I discovered using the Igor to extend to the low-end tonal range. Simply plug in the Igor to the MOD. RANGE Input with the HI/LO switch set to Lo. You can get some really cool sub-octave fuzz tones this way. Try using your neck pickup with the tone rolled back for best results.

Plugging in the Igor extends the creative potential of the Dr Freakenstein even further. The Igor is a little, stomp-able… “thing” …that plugs into the back of the DrFF-3 via either of the two 1/8” input jacks on the back of the pedal. Plugging Igor into the OSC. input allows you to control the oscillation of the pedal in real-time as if you were turning the OSC. knob manually. This is very cool for generating real-time filter sweeps. I find it especially useful while when the HI/LO switch is set to HI. Using Igor in the MOD. RANGE input allows you to press Igor with your foot to bring in the modulation effect. You can still use the RATE knob to preselect the rate. The Igor simply makes the oscillator modulation audible in your overall sound.

There’s certainly a lot of serious potential for you sonic sound-manglers to assemble your own monstrous sounds with the the Rainger FX Dr Freakenstein DrFF-3 (and Igor). One of the coolest pedals I’ve heard. Let’s see the final result.

Rainger-FX-Dr-Freakenstein-Fuzz-DrFF-3-Review-Most-Extreme-Fuzz-04

Overall-Rating-4.0

The Rainger FX Dr Freakenstein Fuzz DrFF-3 (and Igor) is a pedal for those seeking the most twisted and extreme sound sculpting implements. This pedal will absolutely punish your audience with a full-on fuzz assault, yet it can sing with smooth fuzzy lead saturation for those who can tame this beast. The manual oscillation adjustment lets you dial in some very interesting, filtered textures, while the modulation will allow you to add movement and depth to your sound. Dr Freakenstein’s helpful assistant, Igor, will add further expression to your sound by allowing realtime foot-controlled tone and modulation adjustments. And just face it: this pedal looks cool as hell. For those who like their dirt pedals intense, the Rainger FX Dr Freakenstein Fuzz DrFF-3 (and Igor) might be the most extreme fuzz pedal around.

That concludes our Rainger FX Dr Freakenstein Fuzz DrFF-3 (and Igor) review. Thanks for reading.

 

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EarthQuaker Devices Hoof Reaper Octave Fuzz Review – Best Fuzz Pedal?

EarthQuaker-Devices-Hoof-Reaper-Octave-Fuzz-Review-Best-Fuzz-Pedal-01

EarthQuaker Devices has built a solid reputation for creating some of the most innovate guitar pedals around. EQD pedals such as the Arpanoid, Rainbow Machine, Bit Commander, Organizer, and The Depths are expanding the boundaries of effects pedal design into new realms of creativity. And so when EarthQuaker Devices makes a more traditional effect like, say, a fuzz pedal, you better believe it’s going to be created with the same ambitious mentality as their other cutting edge effects. The Hoof Reaper Octave Fuzz is certainly no exception.

EarthQuaker Devices has several noteworthy fuzz pedals in their roster including their flagship pedal, the Hoof, and the Tone Reaper fuzz, both offering interesting twists on classic silicon/germanium fuzz pedal designs. And with these two pedals already being a couple of the most sought-after and reputable modern fuzz pedals around, what better idea could there be than to offer both of these epic fuzzes in one enclosure with the addition of a classic analog octave up feature?

The Hoof Reaper Octave Fuzz is the pinnacle of epic EQD fuzz awesomeness. With such a wide assortment of fuzz tones on tap, this pedal is a force to be reckoned with. Is it the best fuzz pedal out there? We’ll put it to the test in our in-depth EarthQuaker Devices Hoof Reaper Octave Fuzz review. But first, let’s run down the features of the Hoof Reaper before the seismic sonic meltdown.

Features:

Includes EarthQuaker Devices Hoof and Tone Reaper pedals with an old-school analog octave up function.

All 3 options may be used together or separately in the following configurations:

EarthQuaker-Devices-Hoof-Reaper-Octave-Fuzz-Review-Best-Fuzz-Pedal-02Hoof Alone
Tone Reaper Alone
Octave Up Alone
Tone Reaper + Octave Up
Hoof + Octave Up
Hoof + Tone Reaper
Hoof + Tone Reaper + Octave Up

Controls:

Tone Reaper

Fuzz control knob adjusts the sustain and nature of the distortion.

Level control knob adjusts the overall output volume.

Tone control knob adjusts the treble and bass character of the effect, bass to the right and treble to the left.

Hoof

Fuzz control knob adjusts the level of sustain and gain.

Level control knob adjusts the overall output volume.

Tone control knob adjusts the treble and bass character of the effect, bass to the left and treble to the right.

Shift control knobs adjusts the mid frequencies, from more pronounced on the left to more scooped to the right.

Powered via 9VDC power adapter, 100ma or greater.

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Sound & Performance:

The Hoof Reaper Octave Fuzz has a lot to offer, but don’t worry, it’s very easy to use and is loaded with an extensive range of fuzz tones. I’ll cover both the Hoof and Tone Reaper sections independently and go over the Octave Up and combined effect options as well. I used the Hoof Reaper primarily with an American Stratocaster and a flat, clean amp channel. This is what ensued.

With the Tone Reaper knobs all set to noon, I hit the right foot-switch to fire up the pedal and was treated to a mild, gritty drive tone. The Tone Reaper side offers exceptional dynamic clarity and makes a great overdrive. The pedal responds to your picking dynamics, so you can really dig in for some extra grit. Rolling back your volume smooth cleans up the sound nicely. Very expressive, mildly distorted tones are abound.

The Tone knob of the Reaper side nas a unique feel compare to most tone controls. Rolling it to the right seems to generally fatten your tone with more low-end. It doesn’t cut the highs so much as it simply beefs up your sound. And the Tone Reaper still retains its definition and tight response at fully clockwise Tone settings. It’s really worth getting familiar with how the various controls of the Hoof Reaper affect your sound as this will help you later when sculpting your perfect Hoof/Reaper combined fuzz tones.

The Fuzz knob of the Tone Reaper will really let you hone in on your preferred drive response. While the range of smooth overdrive extends from the far left all the way past noon, increasing steadily in gain as your turn the knob clockwise, something interesting happens once you hit 3 o’clock. At its most extreme settings, the Reaper Fuzz knob transforms the nature of this pedal, delivering a full-on, blazing fuzz tone. It’s great for fuzzy leads and retains plenty of clarity for rhythm use as well.

Excellent tones all around on the Tone Reaper side. Let’s check out the Hoof.

With the knobs at noon, I activated the Hoof by itself for more fuzz mayhem. The Hoof has more gain than the Tone Reaper at this 12 o’clock setting, and the overall tone has a deep, yet filtered sound. The Shift knob is one of the main highlights of the Hoof fuzz and really works well in tandem with the Tone control for shaping a fuzz sound that will sit perfectly in the mix.

The Tone and Shift knobs of the Hoof yield a range of EQ-shaping control that few other fuzz pedals can contend with, and that’s before combining the Hoof and Tone Reaper. The Shift control dramatically alters the midrange response of the Hoof and can produce deep scooped rhythm sounds and aggressive mid-boosted lead tones. Since EarthQuaker Devices have obviously thrown out the rulebook in designing this pedal, I’d recommend approaching the Hoof Reaper with that same mentality to unearth the most original and inspiring tones.

The Octave Up function is a brilliant little extra touch that adds some icing to the cake, giving you a useful option not found on either of the two pedals that make up the bulk of this beast. While EQD could have just included the Hoof and Tone Reaper as is, including the great-sounding Octave Up function is an example of how much these folks strive to release the best possible product they can muster up. The Octave Up will produce classic Octavia-style tones and sounds simply fantastic. Using it with the Hoof, Tone Reaper, or both together produces expected awesome results. You can get some searing, violin-like lead tones instantly. I even find using the Octave Up by itself surprisingly interesting for generating bell-like, metallic clean tones. You’ve gotta hear this firsthand to experience how cool it sounds.

With 2 of EQD’s best fuzz pedals and the octave up function, the Hoof Reaper offers an extremely wide range of tone-sculpting power. EarthQuaker Devices really went the extra mile with the Hoof Reaper Octave Fuzz. Let’s see the final result.

EarthQuaker-Devices-Hoof-Reaper-Octave-Fuzz-Review-Best-Fuzz-Pedal-03

Overall-Rating-4.5

The Hoof Reaper Octave Fuzz by EarthQuaker Devices is one of the most versatile fuzz pedals around. You’ll find just about any fuzz sound you could ever want with this pedal. It features the awesome Tone Reaper and Hoof fuzz pedals and lets you combine them in tandem for some of the most extreme fuzz sounds available in a single enclosure. It even has an octave up function for good measure which you allow you to push the utility of this amazing pedal even further. If you’re looking for the best fuzz pedal around, it doesn’t get much better than the Hoof Reaper Octave Fuzz. Definitely check this one out.

That concludes our EarthQuaker Devices Hoof Reaper Octave Fuzz review. Thanks for reading.

 

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Walrus Audio Janus Review – Most Innovative Fuzz/Tremolo Pedal?

Walrus-Audio-Janus-Review-Most-Innovative-Fuzz-Tremolo-Pedal-01

I’ve played a lot of great guitar pedals. And I’ve played a lot of really great fuzz and tremolo pedals. And I’ve seen and played some really interesting conceptual pedals that capture a unique vibe unlike anything else around.

And still, every now and then, a pedal comes along that completely blows my mind in every aspect of its concept, design, and overall execution. The Janus by Walrus Audio is one of those pedals.

The Janus combines a fully-featured fuzz of the highest quality and an equally great tremolo in a single enclosure. Add in dual-joystick control to manipulate 2 key parameters for each effect, and you’ve got more real-time tone-bending options than you’ll find in a fuzz or tremolo pedal anywhere else.

Fuzz and Tremolo are a bizarre pairing you would think, but they yield surprisingly interesting results once you dig in and and get acquainted with the Janus. Having an understanding of who exactly Janus is may offer further insight into what Walrus Audio had in mind when designing this pedal.


Walrus-Audio-Janus-Review-Most-Innovative-Fuzz-Tremolo-Pedal-05Janus is a Roman god often associated with transitions, beginnings and endings, and war and peace. Janus is usually depicted with two faces which look towards the future and to the past. This pedal certainly is a throw-back to such classic effects as tremolo and fuzz while bringing them into the future with ultra-modern design innovation. Notice how the faces of Janus look towards the different effects, the war-like chaos of fuzz and the peaceful and soothing tremolo. His eyes are fixated on the Level controls which are the swinging doorways to unleashing these effects. The efficient design and beautiful presentation of this pedal are a testament to a dedicated creative vision brought to life in a masterfully executed product. Walrus Audio have really raised the bar with this one. Let’s run down the features and transition to our in-depth Walrus Audio Janus review.

Features:

True Bypass Dual-Joystick Controlled Tremolo/Fuzz

Trem Level control knob adjusts the output level of the Tremolo effect.

Trem Joystick: Left to Right adjusts the depth from minimum to maximum depth, Down to Up adjusts the rate from minimum to maximum rate.

Trem On/Off True Bypass footswitch engages and disengages effect, letting signal pass unaffected when not in use.

Fuzz Level control knob adjusts the output level of the fuzz effect.

Fuzz Blend control knob adjusts the mix between clean signal and Fuzz signal, allowing for transparent, cleaner guitar tone with fuzz underneath.

Fuzz Joystick: Left to Right adjusts the amount of fuzz/gain/distortion from minimum to maximum fuzz, Down to Up adjusts the Tone of the fuzz effect from more bass to more treble.

Fuzz On/Off True Bypass footswitch engages and disengages effect, letting signal pass unaffected when not in use.

3-Way Mode Toggle-switch for selecting from 3 different arrangements of clipping diodes to create an assortment of fuzz tones.

Bass Toggle-switch boosts the low end/bass when switched to the left.

Powered by 9-Volt battery or 9VDC power adapter.

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Sound & Performance:

Just so you know, this review took me a while to write. I could barely stop playing the Janus long enough to write about it. Once you enter the realm of Janus, it can be hard to exit from whence you came.

For my review, I simply plugged in a humbucker-equipped American Strat and went into a flat, clean amp channel with the Janus standing guard, facing my guitar and amp.

I decided to approach this pedal slowly and tested out the Tremolo first. With the Level control at noon, I engaged the Trem side of Janus and gave the joystick a whirl.

The Tremolo of the Janus is smooth and musical, offering a nice gentle pulsing effect that can get pretty intense when you need it to be simply by adjusting the Trem joystick. At the lower left joystick settings the depth and rate are at their lowest for the most subtle effects. Bringing the joystick towards the center of its axis brings in a moderate tremolo sound for a bit more movement. The joysticks are stiff enough to maintain their position when set, so it’s easy to find a stationary setting you like on the fly. Pushing the joystick towards the upper right area brings in much deeper throbbing with a fast rate, great for intense pulsing effects. Taking the joystick to the right yields the deepest effect while pushing it straight up produces the fastest rate. I highly recommend using the Trem joystick in realtime, either with your hand or foot, to create some mesmerizing movement.

Walrus-Audio-Janus-Review-Most-Innovative-Fuzz-Tremolo-Pedal-03After getting a feel for the Trem side of this pedal, I switched over to the Fuzz side to experience the wrath and fury of Janus.

Even without the Tremolo functionality, the Janus is still one of the more versatile fuzz effects pedals around and packs in a lot of features for tailoring your ideal fuzz tones. The blend knob is incredibly useful for blending your dry signal into the overall sound for some extra clarity and definition. With the Fuzz joystick set anywhere around the left to center positions you can get some great overdriven fuzz sounds. You must try the Janus Fuzz in all 3 modes as they each have a voice and character of their own for a great “3-fuzz-pedals-in-1” appeal.

I’m a bit of a gain addict, so I really enjoy using the Janus with the Fuzz joystick set towards the right. From here, all 3 modes offer plenty of fuzz distortion in 3 delicious flavors. You’ve gotta try them all. Seriously, this pedal is overflowing with great fuzz tones. Pushing the joystick slightly up or down lets you set your high-gain fuzz tone just right. I personally find myself leaving the Bass switch on most of the time with the Fuzz joystick pushed upward a little bit to bring in more high-end for some great full-range fuzz sounds in all 3 modes.

At all levels of gain, the Janus Fuzz remains articulate and dynamic. Individual notes of chords can be heard clearly even at the highest gain settings. The pedal cleans up well when rolling back your volume knob, and it’s worth exploring the different mode options with various gain settings while attenuating your guitar’s volume knob to hear how expressive the Janus can be.

And of course the Janus must be experienced with both Tremolo and Fuzz engaged. This offers some truly unique sounds and performance options that you won’t find anywhere else. Both effects pair surprisingly well together and offer some very interesting modulated distortion sounds. With the Tremolo and Fuzz engaged, you can create some very dynamic textures by using the Fuzz Blend knob to mix your dry and fuzz signals, revealing both faces of Janus in a clean, yet dirty barrage of pulsating fuzz movement.

Things get really weird and wild when you try playing guitar while using your foot to control the joysticks in realtime. The Janus is truly a performance instrument in its own right and is made for the most adventurous guitarists who will appreciate all that this pedal is capable of.

Few companies are pushing the envelope as far as Walrus Audio have with the Janus. It’s a fuzz pedal like no other. It’s this kind of ingenuity, creativity, and risk-taking that sets apart the best from the rest. Much respect to Walrus Audio for releasing a pedal that’s so much fun to play and that offers a world of inspiration within. Let’s see the final result.

Walrus-Audio-Janus-Review-Most-Innovative-Fuzz-Tremolo-Pedal-06

Overall-Rating-4.5

The Janus by Walrus Audio is one of the most ambitious fuzz/tremolo pedals ever released. It offers 2 high quality effects that are worlds apart yet may be combined to create sounds unheard of until now. It has plenty of amazing fuzz and tremolo sounds on tap that can be easily dialed in and used together or separately. And if you’re feeling bold, you can bring chaos to order via realtime dual-joystick control. While the joysticks are particularly well suited to studio use, you can still use them in realtime with a nimble foot as well. The Janus is a veritable wellspring of great tone and inspiration, and I highly recommend getting acquainted with the Janus face to face.

That concludes our Walrus Audio Janus review. Thanks for reading.

 

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Empress Effects Fuzz Review – Best Guitar Fuzz Distortion Pedal?

Empress-Effects-Fuzz-Review-Best-Guitar-Fuzz-Distortion-Pedal-01

While there is certainly no shortage of great fuzz pedals out there, a few of which have come to define some of the great sounds of fuzz, there are still many newer fuzz pedals that strive to improve on the classic designs and carve out new sounds entirely. The Empress Fuzz seems to be one of those pedals that offers subtle improvements in design over many of its predecessors while delivering an improved response for a classic, yet modern fuzz pedal.

This pedal caught my attention as it comes from the Canadian pedal gurus over at Empress Effects, makers of such esteemed guitar pedals as the Empress Vintage Modified Superdelay and Empress Heavy. The boutique pedal peddlers from up north have a great talent for packing pedals with plenty of useful functionality while keeping them user-friendly and pretty straightforward to use. The Empress Fuzz looks like it might be another solid release, and I’m guessing there’s more than meets the eye in its simplistic design. Is the Empress Fuzz the best guitar fuzz pedal out there? We’ll help you find the answer in our Empress Effects Fuzz review. But first let’s run down the features of this pedal before we dive in.

Empress-Effects-Fuzz-Review-Best-Guitar-Fuzz-Distortion-Pedal-02Features:

All-analog signal path.

Classic fuzz tones with lots of gain and smooth, rich sustain.

Gain control knob for adjusting fuzz distortion level.

Output control knob for setting overall volume level.

Treble control knob for attenuating high frequencies starting around 3 kHz, offering 10 dB of boost and cut.

Bass control knob for attenuating low frequencies starting around 150 Hz, offering 10 dB of boost and cut.

True Bypass footswitch for letting your signal pass unaffected when the pedal is disengaged.

Powered by 9VDC power adapter, 30mA or greater.

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Sound & Performance:

I always love plugging into a great fuzz pedal. I put the Empress Fuzz in my chain between am American Stratocaster and a flat, clean amp setting. With the knobs set at noon to start, I activated the pedal.

With the knobs at 12 o’clock, the Empress Fuzz produces a full-sounding distortion tone that’s tight and punchy with plenty of dynamic response to your playing. Try picking lightly or rolling back the volume knob to hear how expressive this pedal is. At moderate Gain settings the distortion isn’t too fuzzy, lending a great distortion sound to your tone that rewards articulate playing and full-on rock chord rhythms.

Cutting back the Gain makes the Empress Fuzz behave more like an overdrive, producing a pleasantly surprising amount of warmth and slightly gritty boost for biting lead tones. It’s already apparent that this pedal packs in a lot of versatility. You can tame the Empress Fuzz with the dynamics of your playing and dig in to really let loose some biting tones. 

I had to go ahead and crank the gain towards 9 o’clock to see what this pedal could do. Chords and riffs sound absolutely massive, and the pedal starts to really sing with even more bite and sustain all the while maintaining its responsiveness and not becoming overly muddy or saturated.

And the Empress Fuzz maintains its impeccable playability all the way to the highest Gain settings. With the Gain knob maxed out, the Empress Fuzz will treat you to a singing fuzz with loads of sustain.

I started to realize then which pedal the Empress Fuzz reminds me off. It has a decidedly “RAT-ty” style tone that offers a bit more variation thanks to the Empress Fuzz’s tone controls.

The Bass and Treble controls offer the means to finely tune the Empress Fuzz to your needs moreso than your typical single tone knob controlled fuzz pedal. Rolling up the Bass knob delivers massive low-end, while pushing the Treble will produce searing lead tones. I actually really like how the Empress Fuzz sounds when you roll back the Bass and Treble quite a bit and push up the Output for a thick mid-boost. Try this for some lead tones that’ll really jump out in a crowded mix.

Don’t be fooled the simple styling of this pedal. The no-nonsense design hides a serious fuzz within that should definitely be approached with caution. Let’s see the final result.

Empress-Effects-Fuzz-Review-Best-Guitar-Fuzz-Distortion-Pedal-03

Overall-Rating-4.0

The Empress Effects Fuzz offers an incredibly wide range of tones and uses in its humble enclosure. This pedal will deliver overdriven grit, mid-gain rock distortion, and searing fuzz lead tones with ease. It’s an exceptional pedal for anyone looking for a great fuzz with minimal fuss. On your quest for the best guitar fuzz pedal, give the Empress Effects Fuzz an audition as it just might be everything you’re looking for in a great fuzz.

That concludes our Empress Effects Fuzz review. Thanks for reading.

 

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Pro Co RAT2 Review – Best Guitar Distortion Effects Pedal?

Pro-Co-RAT2-Review-Best-Guitar-Distortion-Effects-Pedal-01

The RAT distortion pedals by Pro Co have attained legendary status for their distinct drive sounds and have become a standard by which other distortion pedals are measured. While many iterations of the RAT have existed over the years, most versions have distinctive similarities: that familiar RAT housing enclosure, 3-knob layout, and a characteristic distortion that has fuzz-like qualities, fitting since Pro Co started out repairing Fuzz Faces before designing the RAT. But after the original RAT pedals and their early 80’s incarnations set the foundation for the RAT legacy, Pro Co released the RAT2, offering classic RAT distortion tones with a convenient on/off LED, easy-access battery compartment, and carrying over true bypass switching and that signature Filter control.

The RAT2 is all about making noise. It’s a surprisingly versatile pedal, too, and covers a lot of ground from boosted overdrive to full-on raging fuzz distortion. Is the RAT2 still the best guitar distortion effects pedal around? We’ll put the legend to the test in our Pro Co RAT2 review. But first, let’s run down the features of the pedal before jumping into the review.

Pro-Co-RAT2-Review-Best-Guitar-Distortion-Effects-Pedal-02Features:

Distortion control knob adjusts overall gain level.

Filter control knob rolls off brittle high-end frequencies, producing a darker tone.

Volume control knob adjusts overall volume level.

On/Off LED light which the original RAT didn’t have.

Easy-access battery compartment.

True Bypass switching for bypassing the circuitry when the pedal is disengaged.

Powered by 9-volt batter or 9VDC power adapter with 1/8” plug.

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Sound & Performance:

I started off by dialing in a flat, clean amp setting with the RAT2 between my guitar and the amp. With the Filter rolled completely counterclockwise, I set the Distortion and Volume controls to noon and fired up the pedal.

The RAT2 instantly jolts your sound with some fat drive that’s full of crunchy rhythm tone. The pedal has a very familiar sound, not surprising since RAT pedals have been featured on so many famous recordings over the years. This is one of those few pedals that comes to mind when people think of great distorted rock guitar tone. The RAT2 has a vibrant top-end that isn’t too hairy or frizzy, and the bottom is nice and chunky, with some great low-end grind for chugging out some heavy riffage.

If the top-end is a little too bright, say if you’re using single coils or a very high-output humbucker, turning the Filter control clockwise a bit will help tame those treble frequencies. It usually doesn’t need too much filtering unless you’re specifically going for a very mellow tone.

Pulling the Distortion down around 9 o’clock produces some great overdrive style tones. The RAT2 still packs plenty of bite even at low Distortion settings from 9 o’clock to noon. Dig in for some satisfyingly spanky attack with plenty of that characteristic RAT drive ripping out of your speakers.

Pushing the Distortion up around 3 o’clock and beyond unleashes the monstrous potential of this pedal. It has that fuzz-like distortion character that defines the “RAT” sound. The RAT2 produces a punishing distortion that manages to remain tight and refined even at the highest Distortion settings. This controlled chaos is a testament to the RAT2’s usability when high-gain distortion is needed without all of the uncontrollable feedback and noise. It’s surprising how the RAT2 is still so quite even at high Distortion settings.

One of the main reasons why the RAT has been around so long is that it’s just so damn fun to play. It has a real classic sound that has spawned countless imitations and variants. It’s easy to plug into this pedal and get lost in the inspiration it induces. It’s certainly one of those must-have pedals that offers a unique flavor of distortion for stage and studio use.

The RAT2 carries on a legacy that has been going strong for over 30 years and will most likely remain a staple among guitar pedals for years to come. Let’s see the final result.

Pro-Co-RAT2-Review-Best-Guitar-Distortion-Effects-Pedal-03

Overall-Rating-4.5

The Pro Co RAT2 is an indisputable classic in the realm of legendary guitar distortion pedals. It covers a wide range of overdrive to distortion tones with a sound that is unique to the RAT2. It has a fuzz-like character at high Distortion settings that still remains tight and full. The RAT2’s signature Filter control offers a great way to refine your top-end and mellow out your tone. If you’re seeking the best guitar distortion effects pedal for your hi-gain needs, the RAT2 is certainly worth auditioning.

That concludes our Pro Co RAT2 review. Thanks for reading.

 

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Free The Tone Heat Blaster HB-2 Review – Best Guitar Distortion Pedal?

Free-The-Tone-Heat-Blaster-HB-2-Review-Best-Guitar-Distortion-Pedal-01

Yuki Hayashi, an acclaimed engineer and designer of guitar pedals, once had a dream. In this dream he heard a sound, a distorted guitar sound unlike any he had heard before yet similar to a high-gain tube amp. Upon waking, he rushed to his design lab, mentally visualizing the circuitry schematic on his way, and began rushing to recreate the sound he had heard in his head before it was lost. The final output was the Heat Blaster. After further perfecting his original creation, the HB-2 was born. Is this product of inspiration from a dream the best guitar distortion pedal in manifest form? I’ll put it to the test in my Free The Tone Heat Blaster HB-2 review to find out.

The Heat Blaster pedal that Yuki Hayashi developed while working at Providence Effects has garnered a reputation for being a great distortion pedal, so I am very excited to try this updated, handmade version of that classic design. After already playing such high quality Free The Tone pedals including the Silky Comp Compressor, Gigs Boson Overdrive, and Matt Schofield MS SOV Special Overdrive, I have a pretty good feeling that Yuki has taken the Heat Blaster to the next level in this Free The Tone incarnation. It’s time to feel the heat, so let’s run down the features real quick and get to the review.

Free-The-Tone-Heat-Blaster-HB-2-Review-Best-Guitar-Distortion-Pedal-02Features:

Drive control knob adjusts the amount of gain.

Tone control knob adjusts the overall tone of the sound produced.

Level control knobs sets overall volume level of the pedal.

Hi Cut flip-switch reduces treble output for a sound that is great for soloing.

Low Cut flip-switch reduces bass response, useful for blending in a band setting with a full rhythm section.

Handmade construction.

Autographed by designer, Yuki Hayashi.

True Bypass for letting signal pass through unaffected when disengaged.

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Sound & Performance:

I dialed up a flat, clean amp setting, pulled out my American Strat, and plugged the Heat Blaster in between. I also brought along the Gigs Boson Overdrive, as I’m always curious to see if a particular distortion plays well with others.

With controls of the Heat Blaster set at noon, I fired up the pedal and struck a few chords. The Heat Blaster provides a satisfying boost to your signal with a great full-range distortion sound and lots of headroom. This pedal loves being fed plenty of fat rock ‘n roll chords.

At this Drive setting, pulling down the Level to around 10 o’clock brings the pedal to unity gain with a clean amp channel. After switching the pedal on and off a few times, something becomes apparent. The Heat Blaster is a stellar choice for adding a high-quality crunch channel to a clean single channel amp.

The sound of the HB-2 is full and responsive with a thick bottom and a vibrant high-end. The Tone knob helps you sculpt the perfect tone. I find the tone knob of the Heat Blaster a bit more tailored to the mid to high end range. Dialing the Tone in somewhere between noon and 3 o’clock yields the most pleasing results to my ears. But this pedal has a few more tricks up its sleeve that are sure to trump the old Providence version.

The Hi Cut and Low Cut switches are very useful for further suiting the Heat Blaster to your needs. While the pedal typically has a very deep low end, the Low Cut switch will significantly reduce the depth of the bass response so your bassist and drummer can fill in the low frequency range, great for use in band situations. The High Cut is also great for achieving a slightly more mellow, vintage-style tone. This is great if your pickups have a bit too much high-end response or you want to reduce the harshness of your pick attack. These functions are a welcome addition to the HB-2 and give it a one-up over the original design.

The Drive control adds a full range of versatility to this pedal. On lower Drive settings the Heat Blaster can be used as a superb overdrive. The HB-2 is a very dynamic pedal and responds well to expressive playing. Play gently for a cleaner sound, and dig in for a cutting overdriven bite. And yes, the HB-2 cleans up exceptionally well when you roll back your volume knob.

I, however, like to crank the Drive on the HB-2. This is where you’ll discover the Heat Blaster’s namesake. At full Drive levels the Heat Blaster doesn’t overpower with too much gain. It’s actually a little more mild than I was expecting, but my expectations were surpassed in the best possible way by how refined and tight the response of this pedal is even at high gain settings. Many pedals promise to emulate the response and feel of a high-gain tube amp, but the Heat Blaster is one pedal that actually delivers. And while many distortion pedals seek to recreate a particular amp sound, the HB-2 defines a sound of its own although I can hear a bit of Marshall crunch and top-end with some Mesa Boogie depth and bottom.

The Heat Blaster also produces great results when paired with a distorted amp or placed behind an overdrive pedal. I used the HB-2 as a raging overdrive in front of an already dirty amp for some killer lead tones. And while using the Heat Blaster to add some crunch to a clean channel, I used Free The Tone’s own Gigs Boson Overdrive to take the crunch into high-gain lead territory.

Free The Tone seem to be one of the few companies that consistently release products of only the highest possible quality, a testament to the vision of Yuki Hayashi and the dedication of the Free The Tone team. The Heat Blaster HB-2 is another standout in the Free The Tone effects pedal line. Let’s see the final result.

Free-The-Tone-Heat-Blaster-HB-2-Review-Best-Guitar-Distortion-Pedal-03

Overall-Rating-4.5

The Heat Blaster HB-2 by Free The Tone is easily one of the best high-end distortion pedals I’ve ever heard. It’s dynamic and expressive at all Drive levels and cleans up well when you need it to. It’s a very refined distortion pedal that certainly packs enough heat for most needs. The HB-2 will cover the range of overdrive to crunch, making a great instant second channel to your clean amp. Pair the Heat Blaster with a distorted channel or your favorite overdrive for great blended distortion sounds and lead tones. The Hi Cut and Low Cut functions also give this pedal more usability than your run-of-the-mill 3-knob distortion pedal. If you’re looking for a distortion pedal of the highest craftsmanship and sound quality, the Heat Blaster definitely deserves an audition. Better yet, before you try it out, go ahead and make space on your pedalboard. This one’s a keeper!

That concludes our Free The Tone Heat Blaster HB-2 review. Thanks for reading.

 

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