Stompbox Fever(17)

November 1, 2008

DESIGNED AND BUILTBYFU MANCHU BASSIST Brad Davis, Creepy Fingers effects sport bitchin’ silk-screened enclosures and bulletproof, handwired construction. The Creepyface fuzz ($200 direct) spews its wonderful filth via NOS germanium transistors from the ’60s—a boon for guitarists who are into blown-out, old-school gnarliness, replete with a sweet, musical response. Sonically, the Creepyface rules with a mighty fist. With single-coils or humbuckers, I conjured everything from subtle, mildly fuzzed chirps with lacey top-end detail and bountiful harmonic complexity to an all-out, amp destroying fuzz bomb that begged for heavy, depraved riffery. Even when I slathered the fuzz on thick, the beefy low-end definition stayed coherent, and the all-telling treble frequencies were sweet and singing with the perfect amount of raucous rasp and hair. Even cooler, the Creepyface soulfully interacts with your guitar’s volume control, cleaning up impeccably even in the highest fuzz settings. This allows for all sorts of tonal shadings when you factor in your playing dynamics and pickup settings.

Packing a buttload of output, the Creepyface slammed my 50-watt Marshall plexi and Fender Deluxe Reverb with a huge, juicy signal. In fact, some of the best tones were obtained with low Fuzz settings and the Volume control dimed. You can fine-tune the pedal’s overall voice via an internal bias trimpot, however, when the Off/Creepy switch is engaged, the internal bias pot is bypassed. In this mode, the Off/Creepy control provides a huge range of bias adjustment, and can yield everything from spitty lofi tones to crazy gated fuzz to bizarre sitar/synth simulations. Suffice to say that whether you’re fiending for more traditional fuzz tones, or true tonal perversion, the Creepyface has your fuzzy needs more than covered. —Darrin Fox

KUDOS Dynamic, fat-sounding, ultra-musical fuzz. Covers the gamut from classic to wild tones. CONCERNS None. CONTACTCreepy Fingers; myspace.com/creepyfingerseffects

Creepy Fingers Sugarboost

SPORTING A SINGLE, NOS GERMANIUM TRANSISTOR, as well as Boost and Fat/Thin controls, the Sugarboost ($175 direct) is the perfect elixir for subtly vibing-up—or completely violating— your tube amp. With enough output to choke a horse, the Sugarboost hits unity gain barely a quarter of the way up. After that, the harmonics come flooding in, and expressive grind is at your fingertips as your dynamic palette grows exponentially. For example, in a low-volume situation at a restaurant gig, I put the Sugarboost between a Telecaster and a Fender Princeton Reverb to afford me more dynamic range, as the amp was barely up past two. The Sugarboost’s luscious, touch-sensitive grind allowed me to use my guitar’s volume knob to go from clean chime to milky lead tones—as if the amp were cranked, but at a polite, easily controlled volume. Conversely, with the lethally classic Gibson SG/Marshall rig, I set the Sugarboost full-on as the final ingredient to a deliciously wicked recipe that was bursting with corpulent, fuzzy grind. Still, back down your guitar’s volume, and you’re back in the clean zone. Sweet!

The Fat/Thin control is subtle, yet hugely effective in fine-tuning the pedal’s overall character to optimize it for different guitars. Most important, the inherent tones of my guitars and amp always remained intact—the most essential feature in a booster—making the Sugarboost one of the best-sounding, most musical boost boxes I’ve heard in a long, long time. —Darrin Fox KUDOS Supremely musical. Adds subtle harmonic richness or amp-blasting grind. CONCERNS None. CONTACTCreepy Fingers; myspace.com/ creepyfingerseffects

65 Colour Boost

THE 65 AMPLIFIER COMPANY’S motto, “The Unmistakable Sound of a Generation,” refers to the British guitar tone revolution that began in 1966 with Eric Clapton’s Bluesbreakers breakthrough. Clapton reportedly used a Dallas Rangemaster boost pedal to push his Marshall combo into the distortion sound that changed the world. The basic design for the Colour Boost pedal ($229) originated with the old Rangemaster circuit from the ’60s. 65 Amps owners Peter Stroud and Dan Boul wanted to find a Rangemaster- type pedal that had more voicing options than the original, so they turned to Don Butler—who was making excellent Rangemaster recreations—for advice on how to make a pedal that would complement their amps. Butler made a prototype for 65 using some of the same components found in their amps, but when he discovered he could no longer source the vintage transistors, Boul and Stroud arranged to have the correct Germanium transistors custom made, and worked with Butler to create a pedal that delivers all the top tones of ’60s England.

The sturdy Colour Boost offers a Gain knob, as well as a Voice switch that selects four tonal variations. I plugged the Boost between my DiMarzio Virtual Vintage-powered Strat and an Orange Tiny Terror and a Reverend Hellhound. With either amp, the far left notch produced dead-on Bluesbreakers tone with surprisingly little gain boost. The next setting sounded more like Jimmy Page à la Led Zeppelin I. Setting three conjured up George Harrison/Brian May Voxstyle voicings, while the last notch eerily revived Peter Green’s famous “out-of-phase” sound. Even at high gain settings, the pedal cleans up nicely when you back off your guitar volume, so you could conceivably leave it on at all times. The Colour Boost is a specialized sound—metal and fusion lovers look elsewhere. But if you are among those that revel in the glorious tones of the second British invasion, this pedal is a must-have.

KUDOS Accurately captures the legendary sound of late-’60s Brit rock. CONCERNS None. CONTACT 65 Amps, (818) 760-5089; 65amps.com

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