Way Huge: Fat Sandwich, Pork Loin, and Swollen Pickle

February 1, 2009

We tested these pedals using a Gibson Historic Les Paul, a Fender Stratocaster, and PRS Modern Eagle II. Our amp lineup included a Rivera Venus 3, Victoria Golden Melody, and a Trillium Signature 2x10 combo.

FAT SANDWICH

Designed to satisfy your appetite for distortion, the Fat Sandwich ($179 street) is a high-calorie distortion/overdriver that sports Volume, Distortion, Tone, Presence, and Resonance controls. By removing the four rubber feet, the box halves come apart to reveal three additional controls: Curve (fine tunes the corner frequencies of the first distortion stage), Highs (adjusts the high-end response between the two drive stages), and Drive (varies the gain of the second distortion stage). This pedal has a wide gain range and also a lot of output, and with a Les Paul, I found that putting the Distortion control at nine o’ clock, the Tone knob at one o’clock and the Presence at 11 o’clock yielded smooth, tube-amp-like overdrive and plenty of sustain for bluesy solos. And thanks to the Sandwich’s multi-stage clipping circuit, the tones remain balanced and smooth when using higher Distortion settings for more aggressive rock tones. With a Strat’s bridge pickup, it was easy to obtain humbuckerlike richness by also turning up the Resonance control to around three o’clock. Once you get things in the ballpark using these knobs, you’re ready to delve into the internal trimmers to fine-tune the response. The Curve control significantly beefs up the low mids and puts a little more hair on the tones when turned upward from its detented center position. The Highs pot also has a center detent, though adjusting it either way didn’t make a huge difference in the sound. The most active of the three is the Drive trimmer, which, when turned north from its zero setting, starts piling on gain fast. Think of it as the “more” knob for the Overdrive circuit, and it helps to make the Fat Sandwich excel as an über-distortion box for those who want a pedal that can turn pretty much any guitar amp into a superhigh- gain tone machine.

 

KUDOS Ultra flexible distortion. Tons of gain. Massive output. Clever controls.
CONCERNS None.
CONTACT (707) 745-2722; jimdunlop.com

PORK LOIN

Ever since Voodoo Lab introduced the Sparkle Drive many summers ago, the ability to blend clean and distorted signals to create a more defined type of grind has become popular with effects makers. At the center of the Pork Loin ($169 street) are its blendable Clean and Overdrive circuits. But this pedal does things a bit differently by using a “modified classic British preamp” on the clean side that’s designed to distort when pushed hard. The difference may seem somewhat insignificant, but, by turning down the internal Drive Mix trimmer (thus defeating the BiFet overdrive section entirely), you can definitely hear how the clean preamp transitions from sounding warm and clear at lower settings to clipped and more compressed when cranked up. The net result is to give the Pork Loin the ability to deliver a very broad range of textures: everything from amp-clobbering overdrive (courtesy of its high output) to the soft distortion you’d get from overdriving a vintage recording mixer (think Abbey Road-era Beatles) to densely saturated tones (with the Overdrive cranked and the Clean control turned down) to the more articulate distortion that’s heard as you start blending in clean signal. On one gig, I found that with the Clean knob all the way up and the Overdrive and Volume controls at about nine o’clock, I had plenty of thick, juicy distortion and just enough boost in volume for solos using a PRS Modern Eagle II and a Rivera Venus 3 amplifier. The Porker’s Tone control is subtle, so I just bypassed it by turning it fully clockwise and put the Curve control halfway up to obtain rich, throaty grind with a syrupy top-end wail. To accommodate guitars with less output than the PRS, I eventually just kept the aforementioned Drive Mix trimmer at its maximum setting, and made some minor adjustments of the Presence trimmer (which alters the high end of the overdrive circuit) and the Filter trimmer (a tone control for the clean preamp) to get just the right amount of brightness from either single-coils or humbuckers. From there, all it took were little tweaks the guitars’ tone controls to dial in the optimum blend of ballsiness and slice for whatever pickup configuration was selected. The Pork Loin is a unique device, and the degree of control it offers is outstanding. Distortion connoisseurs who like to get micro with their tones should definitely give it a shot.

KUDOS Delivers richly detailed and defined distortion. Massive output. British-voiced clean preamp is a hip feature.
CONCERNS None.
CONTACT(707) 745-2722; jimdunlop.com

SWOLLEN PICKLE MK II

The original Swollen Pickle was particularly adept at delivering high-gain fuzz with tons of bottom. The MkII version ($159 street) packs the same Sustain, Loudness, and Filter controls, but adds all new Scoop and Crunch controls, as well as two internal trimmers: Clip, which varies between two set of clipping diodes, and Voice, which adjusts the intensity of the Scoop control. The MkII Pickle has loads of output, can pump out massive volume boost even at low Sustain settings, and its Filter control is a powerful function that can sweep the tones from bottom heavy to pinched and nasally. Fuzz fans might have been happy to just have an affordable reissue of this boutique classic, but the new functions let you do things that go well beyond the original Pickle’s abilities. Take the Scoop control for example, which can either eviscerate the midrange for skull-sucking metal tones, or flatten out the mid response to give you a snarkier, more vintage-style buzz. Then there’s the Crunch control, which, though designed to vary the compression intensity of the Sustain circuit, also affects the low-end response. So you have many things to play with before even venturing inside the Pickle. Start messing with the frequency spectrum of the Scoop control, and you’ll see how easy it is to make those sucked mid sounds cut though an onstage mix. The Clip trimmer is subtler, though at one end of its rotation the fuzz sounds become somewhat more dense and squashed, while the opposite extreme yields a slightly more open and effusive vibe. Once you get these internal controls dialed for optimum sound with your rig, you can close the box and just use the Filter and/or Crunch controls to adjust the overall voicing and bottomend content. The Swollen Pickle’s ultrahigh- gain structure makes it less able to clean up when you turn down your guitar— at least compared to something like Dunlop’s Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Face replica— but that’s a minor quibble for having such a vast palette of crushing fuzz at your fingertips.

KUDOS Gargantuan sounding fuzz. Extremely flexible. A great choice for classic rock or hyper-metal tones.
CONCERNS None.
CONTACT (707) 745-2722; jimdunlop.comg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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