Field Test: Unorthodox Distorted Tones

 I love a good, meat-and-potatoes dirty tone. A Les Paul into a Marshall has become a “cliché” because it works every time. If that’s the sound you want, that’s how you get it. But what if you want something different? Something left-of-center? What if you want something downright freaky?
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 That’s what I wanted last night and I was pretty sure how I could get it: with two of the coolest pedals we’ve seen here at GP—the Visual Sound Angry Fuzz and the Multiwave Distortion from Source Audio. Both of these boxes are capable of generating traditional dirty tones but they can also get way outside. These pedals are very different from one another, with the Angry Fuzz being an octave/fuzz device and the Multiwave Distortion having the ability to separate the input signal into several bands and then distort them individually. (Because the Multiwave has octave settings as well, it can produce tones that are somewhat similar to the AF.)
I ran these pedals into a Fender Princeton and I also had another overdrive, a Line 6 delay, and a chorus pedal along for the ride. First, I stomped on the Angry Fuzz, set for maximum fuzz and maximum Anger (octave). This was cool, but a little “normal.” So I did something that is very hard for me to do: I turned the fuzz level down. But I didn’t stop there. I also rolled my guitar volume and my tone control down. That changed the sound from a full-blown fuzz tone to something more like a ring modulator. I had to adjust my playing style—certain voicings work much better than others—but I found that to be refreshing as well. You have no choice but to play to the tone, rather than the other way around like I normally do.
Next up was the Multiwave from Source Audio. As I’ve said before, this is a really groundbreaking device that is unlike anything I’ve tried. Because it distorts various frequencies separately, you don’t get the intermodulation that you normally would. That makes certain voicings that would sound crazy through a standard distortion not only possible but really musical and cool. Double-stops and chords lost that clashy quality and rang in a whole new way. It’s fascinating and addictive. The Multiwave also has octave and foldback settings that are pretty bold and that’s where I went next. To my ears, these presets benefit from rolling down volume and tone on the guitar and when I did, I was greeted by wild shards of music that almost sounded like church bells or pipe organs at times. It got me out of my same-old same-old instantly and was just a blast to play. Putting a Leslie-style chorus and some delay on it made it even dreamier. One more cool benefit is that when I did go back to a conventional dirty tone, it felt exciting and new! All in all, this was a real eye-opener for me. The lesson here is, when you come across an effect that is capable of making new sounds, don’t just play your old licks through it. If you take a moment to listen, you’ll figure out what you should play and it might just surprise you. In fact, I’d be surprised if it didn’t.