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Longterm Impressions of my original Blackhawk Amplifiers Trifecta - Balrog, Basilisk, and Fellbeast Fuzz / Distortions

Blackhawk AmplifiersDistortionEffects Pedal MakersFuzzFuzz-Drive and FuzzstortionGated and Velcro FuzzMetal DistortionOpAmp Fuzz+-
2021GPXBlackhawkAmplifierTrifecta700V4.jpg

So the first Blackhawk Pedal that won me over was the Balrog V3 High Gain Metal Distortion - actually being demo’d in a somewhat unusual fashion as a sludgy doom distortion - where it’s more typically deployed as a rather more classic pounding heavy metal distortion. I loved the grinding tones I heard in that first demo and that was my major gateway drug as such into the Blackhawk Amplifiers roster.

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2021GPXBossSY200Official700.jpg

Back on July 16th as part of my Boss Month coverage I did a speculative projection of a possible SY-200 variant - based on the current 200-Series pedals. My good friend Matt Knight emailed me back almost immediately with a visual of the actual SY-200 prototype to show that I was very much sort of ’on-the-nose’ in my speculation.

 

The new reality though is far more impressive than even I could have imagined as Boss has taken onboard my earlier critique of ’too little ...

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2021GPXBossIR200Official700.jpg

Readers will know that I’ve not yet put too much focus on re-amping or recording - while I’m well aware of the leading smart Amp & Cab Simulators - including of course Strymon’s Iridium, Walrus Audio’s ACS1, Two Notes Torpedo, DSM + Humboldt Simplifier, GFI System CabZeus, and Atomic Amplifier-Firebox among some of the leading choices.

 

I always thought I would eventually go with either the Iridium or ACS1 - while in that head-to-hear the Strymon came out ...

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Skreddy Pedals Compact Capsule Collection

Big Muff Style FuzzBoost and OverdriveDistortionEffects Pedal MakersFuzzFuzz Face Style FuzzFuzz-Drive and FuzzstortionOpAmp FuzzSilicon FuzzSkreddy Pedals+-
2021GPXMarcAhlfsSkreddyPedals700.jpg

I’ve been chasing down a Skreddy Zero Distortion for quite some time now and have suffered several near misses over those years, and quirky odd experiences along the trail too. Joe Light of Joe’s Pedals thought he had one buried somewhere in his store room - and it’s taken nearly a year of crate-digging to finally uncover it!

 

So this selection is in homage to that particular milestone, and the fact that my Skreddy Pedals collection is up to 10 now. The vast majority ...

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Joseph Maxwell's Demiurge Instruments Killer Pedal Pair - Original and Re-Engineered - Chroma Drive/Boost and Doomy O))) Octave Distortion

BoostBoost and OverdriveDemiurge InstrumentsDistortionDriveFuzzOctave FuzzOpAmp FuzzOverdriveRat Style Fuzz+-
2021GPXDemiurgeChromaDoomy700V2.jpg

I’ve actually been tracking Joseph Maxwell’s Demiurge Instruments for quite a while and had long been looking to add his superb Doomy O))) take on EQD’s Life Pedal - probably since autumn/winter of last year - it just never quite happened until now! I obviously already had an EQD Life Pedal 2, and love to be able to get that pedal in an enhanced and even more pedalboard-friendly format.

 

Joseph actually started down this path 15 years ago in sort of Brian May fashion -...

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Zander Circuitry Releases New and Improved V2 Junipero 8-Mode Stereo Aqueous Modulator with Enhanced Algorithms

Chorus and VibratoFlangerModulationModulation WorkstationMulti-FXPhaserRotary SpeakerTremoloZander Circuitry+-
2021GPXZanderJuniperoV2700.jpg

The original Junipero was already formidable, while the perfectionist in Alex Millar has meant that he’s spent over a year refining and improving every aspect of the pedal - which is now re-released as a V2 edition with a better mix of enhanced algorithms.

 

Most of the physical and technical aspects of the pedal remain the same - while the circuit and algorithms have been significantly evolved and enhanced.

 

The Key Controls are still Rate, Depth, CTRL (Detune / Depth / ...

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Vitalii Bobrov's Drunk Beaver Standard Vintage + Modern V2 Bat Distortion Pedal Completes the Trifecta!

DistortionDrunk BeaverEffects Pedal MakersFuzzOpAmp FuzzRat Style Fuzz+-
2021GPXDrunkBeaverPinkBat700.jpg

My good friend Vitalii has somewhat emerged as the master of Rat Distortion with his incredibly compelling series of Bat Distortion pedals.

 

My first of the series was the Compact V1 Cold War Bat which delivers two flavours of Opamp - Classic Western US LM308AN, and Eastern Soviet UD1408A - which renders a little more gritty. You get 6 Clipping Modes - Boost / Soft MOSFET / Soft Ge / Hard Si / Hard LED / Hard Ge - where one of the Red LED’s doubles up as the Bat’s eye! ...

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The Expandora Distortion Fuzz Overdrive Pedal is Back!

BixonicBoost and OverdriveDistortionEffects Pedal MakersExpandora PedalsFuzzFuzz-Drive and FuzzstortionOpAmp Fuzz+-
2021GPXExpandoraReissues700V3.jpg

I was pleasantly surprised to see that one of my very favourite Fuzzy-Drive / Fuzzstortion pedals is being reissued. An American interest has taken on the Bixonic Expandora trademark and these Made-in-the-USA pedals are now branded solely under the Expandora Pedals name.

 

I have a single authentic Bixonic Expandora to date - the 2000R variety with the external switches, also the Drunk Beaver Bloom, and JHS Kilt V2 - with the Decibelics The Reverend Mini due to show up on the cusp of the...

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Best of David Main Compact Enclosure D*A*M Pedals

BoostD*A*M EffectsDavid MainDistortionDriveFuzzFuzz Face Style FuzzGermanium FuzzOpAmp FuzzSilicon FuzzTone Bender Style Fuzz+-
2021GPXCompactDAMPedals700.jpg

Readers will know that I favour Compact Enclosure pedals over all varieties - and this is the second UK Fuzz Lord (Castledine/Williams/Main) Compact roundup I have done - after the one I did for Steve Williams’ PigDog brand last year (as below). I’ve not managed to add any further Steve Williams pedals in the interim while I’ve gone from zero to 3 D*A*M Pedals this year - all courtesy of good friend Joe Light of Joe’s Pedals fame. Admittedly the third of those is D*A*M ...

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2021GPXFairfieldAbout900Fuzz.jpg

2021 has been another solid year for fuzz pedals - and the Fairfield Circuitry About 900 Fuzz is another superb example of enormously versatile and dynamic fuzz.

 

The 4 Knobs control Input Gain, Second Stage Bias and Gain, Second Stage Gain, and Output Level - where you essentially balance the input and output of the Two Cascading JFET’s. This hugely variable fuzz takes you from overdrive / fuzz-drive, through full-on fuzz and dense distortion - depending on how you dial in each ...

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