Ultimate Pedal Effects Special: Fuzz and Preamp Pedals

Warm and Fuzzy

This month we have already taken a look at the best of the best when it comes to Distortion, Delay and Overdrive. Now it's time to dig a little deeper and find some hidden gems in the pedal world. Let's take a look at some Fuzz and Preamp Pedals..

Earthquaker Devices Acapulco Gold

EFFECT: FUZZ | RRP: $185 | DISTRIBUTOR: GLOBAL VINTAGE

RECOMMENDED FOR:

Rock, punk, indie and experimental players.

 

SOUND AND VERSATILITY:

Based on the sound of a cranked vintage Sunn Amplifier, the Acapulco Gold is
 an easy to use fuzz pedal in the rockin’ warmish retro camp. With only one control – level/output, it’s really up to your guitar and amp to tweak your overall tone. Rolling guitar volume off cleans up the AG a lot for retro type cleans. Add some more volume and you’ll get a nastier driven sound that’s great for rock and punk. More extreme levels then take you into ‘splatty’ mayhem and beyond.

 

USABILITY:

It has one big knob that essentially controls the level/volume/output. If you’re talking usability in a playing situation then the AG gets a big tick. Fuzz can be an interesting beast at times and dependent on a range of factors. There’s a lot of tone asking to be found within this unit. It’s screaming out to be experimented with.

 

CONSTRUCTION:

Nothing ground breaking in terms of design or construction, but the Acapulco Gold looks cool and feels like it’ll survive just about any gig conditions imaginable. The big control knob is handy as it’s easy to maneuver with the added bonus that you can also tweak it somewhat with your foot from a standing position.

 

OVERALL:

More fuzz from the Earthquaker Devices folks, this time in a straight up one knob design that has covers quite a bit of tonal territory. Great for that retro sound that just wants to kick out a little.

BY NICK BROWN

 

Keeley Monterey

EFFECT: FUZZ + VIBE + ROTARY | RRP: $410 | MADE BY: KEELEY ELECTRONICS

RECOMMENDED FOR:

Rock, blues and psychedelic players.

 

SOUND AND VERSATILITY:

Serving up fuzz, vibe, rotary and wah, the Monterey evokes a certain classic gig thanks to its name as a starting point. With the option of fuzz on the right side and then the left as the ‘modulation’ on/ off switch you’ve got a heap of classic ‘60s and ‘70s rock guitar tones available. Then add in the octave setting and expression pedal input and you can also take a futuristic take on Hendrix and the like.

 

USABILITY:

For some players this could be their sole gig pedal offering fuzz and a range of mod sounds at the stomp of a button and flick of a switch. The control layout is easy to become familiar with but it will take a little work to get your favourite settings – especially when combing effects together.

 

CONSTRUCTION:

Rugged with a psychedelic look to it, the Monterey should serve you for many a gig or jam session.

 

OVERALL:

A cool combo from Keeley, the Monterey puts some classic effects together in a pedal and makes them work. The fuzz, auto wah, vibe and rotary are all very usable with the octave setting taking you into doubling and octave fuzz screamer territory. Although you may be thinking just Hendrix, it can do so much more – very hip!

 

BY NICK BROWN

 

Dr.No Effects Madfly Vintage Fuzz

EFFECT: FUZZ | RRP: $319 | DEALER: TONE PROSHOP

RECOMMENDED FOR:

People who wish music ended in 1979.

 

VERSATILITY:

The Dr.No Madfly Vintage Fuzz isn’t exactly a box of tricks, but then, who really needs that out of a fuzz box anyway? All three dials, distortion, tone and volume, do exactly what they say they’ll do and leave it up to the player to find the tonal nooks and crannies. Dial down the gain and you’ll find yourself in that creamy warmth that makes people still believe in Clapton, push it up to 11 and you’re standing in an ankle deep pool of melted faces!

 

USABILITY:

The functionality is achingly simple. If you want more of anything you can dial it in, but everything you get it filtered through that classic woofy, rolled-off, petrol soaked fuzz tone. Dr. No himself describes it as perfect for anything from “outright doom metal or a more subtle Stoner sound,” and he’s absolutely spot on.

 

CONSTRUCTION:

Hand-built and numbered by the good Dr. himself in the Netherlands, the housing is immaculately decorated in swinging-six-ties orange and blue and comes housed in some of the best packaging you’ll see (think pizza box meets a Jetsons-era tin toy robot.)

 

OVERALL:

If you’re after a bowel-rupturing fuzz tone with one job and one job only then look no further. This is a pedal that plays you more than you play it, foot up on the fold back, tasseled leather jacket ailing in the wind. Just remember, don’t take the brown acid.

 

BY LUKE SHIELDS

 

Two Notes Le Lead

EFFECT: PREAMP | RRP: $499 | DISTRIBUTOR: INNOVATIVE MUSIC

RECOMMENDED FOR:

This is the beast in the range. For those of you looking for high gain, grinding overdrive and distortion, without that tied old solid-state emptiness; the Le Lead is going to 
get your attention. Valve tone with high gain ferocity in a pedal set for a range of recording and live applications.

 

SOUND AND VERSATILITY:

This is probably the most versatile of all the pedals in the range as it offers a front-end channel that ranges from clean through to crunch in gain range, but then goes well beyond anything else when you jump into the second channel with a high gain tone that is truly in your face. Even running from the DI output with speaker emulation, it sounds like a big amp rig turned right up to eleven and an half. The Le Lead really makes itself known within the room.

 

USEABILITY:

If controlling the unit from the extensive range on knobs on the top panel wasn’t enough, there is also the added benefit in all pedals in this range of MIDI implementation. Set up all your effects and channel switching via MIDI and you won’t ever have to touch the Le Lead in a tap dance across the pedalboard to change sounds.

 

CONSTRUCTION:

I love the lengthy design of these pedals. It allows you plenty of room to stomp on the A/B switches without fear of kicking any
of the knobs at all. Even for those of you adorned with pointy-toed shoes, like myself on this particular day, the recessed, far removed controls were safe from the reach of my extended soles.

 

OVERALL:

Its’ red, it’s loud and it’s pretty mean. This pedal gives you all the high gain drive you might have been missing in your rig, whether added in front of another amp, or as a sole drive device in a full range setup.

 

BY ROB GEE

 

Two Notes Le Clean

EFFECT: PREAMP | RRP: $499 | DISTRIBUTOR: INNOVATIVE MUSIC

RECOMMENDED FOR:

Guitarists looking for that classic Californian tone all crammed into one pedal for use in front of a PA system, recording device or clean amplifier will love the tones the Le Clean offers.

 

SOUND AND VERSATILITY:

If you want a rich, warm 6L6 styled clean sound that sparkles without taking the skin off your nose, then this pedal
is here to deliver that sound in spades. As a front end to a recording device, this is a superb way to get a big amp sound without the big volume. Running the gain up in Channel B allows you to access some smooth, yet slightly gritty overdrive tones to add extra complexity to your sound.

 

USEABILITY:

This pedal is right at home in front of a very clean amplifier. It really wants to go up front before a mixer and into a PA system with little or nothing else in its way for a truly pristine tone.

 

CONSTRUCTION:

The French don’t do things by halves when it comes to clarity, construction and cool. This pedal exhibits all of those traits and stands proud doing so. All the controls are assembled with first rate components, so it doesn’t feel like it will crumble between your fingertips with overuse.

 

OVERALL:

Valve pedals can often have an overbearing affect and not offer the clean tone that many players a really looking for. The Le Clean lives up to its name and offers cleanliness and tone in one. Your guitar will thank you for going with a pedal like this.

 

BY ROB GEE

 

Two Notes Le Crunch

EFFECT: PREAMP | RRP: $499 | DISTRIBUTOR: INNOVATIVE MUSIC

RECOMMENDED FOR:

It doesn’t take much to guess what this pedal is offering and so, it isn’t hard to figure out what you are going to use this pedal for. The gold colour is synonymous with the fascia of a certain amplifier and a certain crunch tone that many look for in their overall rig and often can’t achieve without volume.

 

SOUND AND VERSATILITY:

For those of you looking for that classic British crunch sound without the ear piercingly turbid volume, then this is one pedal worth looking into. The two-channel design gives you are screaming Plexi tone and then, even more with 
the second. But it is not just a two trick wonder, as you are able to sculpt the sound to fit in with any mix.

 

USEABILITY:

Running this pedal in line with a clean guitar amp, or into a cabinet emulator
 or PA system, you will find a number of versatile options for pulling a great tone. The important thing is that you just need to alter the settings to suit the setup that follows the pedal in your rig.

 

CONSTRUCTION:

A preamp valve is housed safely
and securely within the solid metal framework of this beast of a pedal. Like the Plexi amps of old that seem to keep on kicking on no matter what sort of a beating they get, this pedal is ready to take all the abuse you can give it in both the studio and on stage.

 

OVERALL:

The Le Crunch is not trying to pretend to be anything. It is at its heart a classic Marshall emulation and it does just that pretty darn well. If the British stack is your thing, you’ll love the Le Crunch.

 

BY ROB GEE 

 

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