Based roughly on the soft-clipping circuitry of vintage Tube Screamers but designed to deliver more drive and greater frequency control than traditional distortion pedals, the Stupid Box ($125 retail/street N/A) easily traverses both overdrive and fuzz territories. The pedal’s sturdy metal casing sports a bright yellow paintjob, and its green LED and Level, Tone, and Gain knobs combine with a mouth graphic to form a smiley face that, according to the manufacturer, “you will never get tired of stepping on.” True-bypass switching via a metal footswitch completes the package. (Note: the latest version of the Stupid Box is housed in a considerably smaller enclosure than that of the review unit.)
The Stupid Box produces sounds ranging from tube-amp-like crunch to tight but generally polite fuzz tones—all with a wonderful smoothness. There’s plenty of low-end and midrange warmth, but little brightness or overt edginess—even with the Tone control maxed out—making the Stupid Box more suitable for blues and classic rock sounds than searing psychedelic sizzle. Individual note definition is quite good, and the distortion cleans up very much like a tube amp when you back off the guitar volume. The unit is relatively quiet overall, even with the Level control turned all the way up—and there’s lots of level. The Stupid Box is a smart choice for anyone seeking a superior distortion pedal with a fuzzy edge, though it isn’t wild and crazy enough to crank out, say, a Count Five “Psychotic Reaction”-type blast.