On a tour of the Roland Museum in Japan, I was able to glimpse
the rare Roland AF-100 BeeBaa boost/fuzz pedal. The first pedal
Barge manufactured was a faithful copy of the AF-100, right
down to the hard-to-adjust front mounted knobs. Responding
to customer comments, Barge designed the new BB-1 Standard
($170 retail) to have the three BeeBaa sounds in a more traditional
layout with top-mounted Boost, Volume, Tone, and Sustain
controls; as well as, Bypass, Fuzz/Boost, and Tone Select switches.
According to Barge, the BB-1 is electronically a clone of the
original BeeBaa. The only differences include the addition of
LEDs and external power, none of which are in the audio signal
path. In Fuzz mode the BB-1 offers plenty of smooth, Fripp-like
fuzz. I plugged the pedal into my computer using Native Instrument’s
Guitar Rig’s Twang amp model. Minimizing the sustain
and stepping on the Tone switch I got a cool raspy rhythm tone.
The Tone control works whether or not the Tone switch is engaged,
which toggles between the two different fuzz modes. With it off,
the fuzz sound is huge with plenty of low end, and the Tone control
effect is subtle. With the Tone switch on (green LED), the
sound is thinner and the control sweeps widely from warm tones
to paint–peeling edge. With the Sustain full up you can leave
your Ebow at home, as many of the notes continue seamlessly
into continuous controlled feedback. The BB-1 is also remarkably
At the opposite end of the spectrum is Boost mode, in which
the BB-1 proffers clean, transparent boost. The Boost level control
is active in this mode only. Helping a Danelectro Pro push
a Reverend Hellhound, the boosted sound was identical to the
unboosted sound—just more distorted. Its lack of coloration and
range of drive—from line buffering to amp pummeling—makes
the pedal worth owning for this effect alone.
KUDOS Super transparent boost. Smooth, quiet fuzz. Gobs
CONCERNS Not for fans of nasty fuzz.
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