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.
Janus 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.
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.
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.
After 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.
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.
Want to buy the Walrus Audio Janus?