High time I did a gear review around here again. In keeping with things I’ve obsessed about in the past, this time around it’s a stereo fuzz box, as in two inputs, two outputs, one box.
Now sure, the average punter might say “Stereo fuzz? WTF is the point of that?” but hear me out on this. I could net the same result with two regular fuzz pedals, but I have three reasons for wanting a self-contained stereo fuzz effect box: 1) fuzz on two channels, but runs on a single 9-volt power source; 2) I use two samplers that each have only stereo outputs, so a single stereo effects box is a lot tidier when used as an in-line effect; and 3) since what I use is a portable, modular, tabletop-based and mostly stereo set up, I’d like new things to match that description. It has always irked me that some effects just aren’t available as non-racked stereo effects, especially distortion. This actually fills out most of what I’ve been looking for in stereo effects, as I now have a delay, two filters, a compressor, a digital reverb and a spring reverb all in stereo (and a DSI Evolver, which, though I rarely use it, can be a stereo multi-effect). It’s a shame my Bugbrand Bugcrusher and Devi Ever Aenima aren’t stereo, but what can you do.
This fuzz is a clone of the Ampeg Scrambler circuit modified with a gain boost at the end. The Scrambler is a crazy sort of fuzz. When all settings are dimed, it has this ring mod/phase distortion-like effect that seems completely atypical of the guitar music being made at the time the pedal was first manufactured (late 60s, early 70s). Since nothing like a stereo fuzz actually exists on any manufacturer’s docket, I had this custom made by Brad at Creepy Fingers Effects. Brad does really nice work, this pedal is really solid and the guts are very tidy. One thing I like about it is that it has a reasonably low noise floor, so doesn’t add a lot of noise to the signal. I’d highly recommend anyone deal with Brad, really good guy. He’ll be making a mono version of this effect soon, called the Pink Elephant Fuzz.
Here’s what it looks like, in all its orange glory:
Since it’s a custom job, there are no markings on the face. I’ve considered marking the I/O jacks, but I think I’ve got their configuration memorized (it’s essentially two pedals in one box, so goes from right to left input #1, output #1, input #2, output#2). The outside knob on either side is that fuzz’s character control (from normal fuzz to the weirdo ring mod). The two inside knobs are shared controls between the two fuzzes (reason #4 for wanting a stereo effect box, shared parameter controls). Inside right is the output gain. Inside left is the wet/dry blend, which is one of the reasons I went with a Scrambler clone. I’d wanted a fuzz with wet/dry since I will often use this as an in-line effect, and the Scrambler works well with buffers. The flip switches turn each channel on and off. I opted for flip switches over standard pedal switches as they suit my way of working better.
Here are some examples of what it sounds like. I haven’t quite sussed what material I’ll tend to use with it, but I’ve varied the material here to give a reasonable idea of what the effect is like. To start, here’s a two-bar drum beat I put together, first dry, then run through various settings:
Stereo fuzz beat
These next two examples show the effect on more complex, tuneful material. In each case, the signal starts out dry, and then moves to various affected forms. I’m inclined to use this effect more subtly, with blend set only around 30%, since I’ve come to like how it sounds there, and the effect of different distortion settings on each channel makes for a nice stereo field:
Stereo fuzz tune
Stereo fuzz viola
This last one is a plain synth drone with the two effects run in serial, so I don’t have to use it as a stereo box if I don’t wish to and now have two Scrambler clones at the ready. This clip shows some of the waveshaping possibilities the Scrambler circuit offers:
Synthdrone serial fuzz
I’m pretty excited with how this turned out. I still can’t really understand why nothing like this exists on the market, sending me off in search of a bespoke solution instead. There are at least a few manufacturers of stereo analog effects for electronic musicians (Jomox, eowave, The Squarewave Parade), seems reasonable that there’s a boutique market for a range of distortion effects aimed at the same intended use.