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9 x Purple Means Fuzz!

BJFECarl MartinEarthbound AudioFuzzFuzz Face Style FuzzGermanium FuzzJAM PedalsKR Musical ProductsMXROctave FuzzReuss EffectsRocket Surgeon LabsSilicon FuzzTone Bender Style FuzzVahlbruch FX+-
2019GPX9PurpleMeansFuzz700.jpg

Yet another Pedal Primary Colour Wheel derived article - I must surely be running out of these colour-associated varieties soon. In my original piece I recalled the alliteration of Lovepedal’s Purple Plexi which made that the most obvious Purple Pedal association, yet I also mentioned how Jimi Hendrix had inspired a number of Purple Fuzz Pedals. This is as distinct from the Violet Ram’s Head Muff - which is associated with a slightly different hue. Here the colour Purple is that colour best associated with Jimi and Prince. Nearly all of these fuzzes featured here are inspired by Jimi - with the exception of the Rocket Surgeon Codename Black Hat - which has a more Tone Bender style hybrid circuit.

 

I have featured some of these on this site before - Carl Martin Purple Moon, JAM Pedals Fuzz Phrase and Vahlbruch Octavia - but most are featured here for the first time. As a fuzz fan with an extensive collection of around 170 fuzz pedals now, it’s somewhat odd that I don’t have at least one purple one in the selection yet - but that will surely change soon enough.

 

I pretty much like every single one of these here and could conceivable acquire all - bar perhaps the KRMP Gypsy Fuzz for which I already have a 3-knob Basic Audio equivalent. Which leaves 8 to get! All of these sound terrific and have good reasons for acquisition - note that the newer version of the Super Badass Variac is now more of a cherry red-ish version - where I so much prefer the previous purple edition - that is what I would seek out.

 

Pedals are listed alphabetically by brand as usual:


BJFE Purple Fuzz - $425

Another pricey but essential Björn Juhl classic - where the 2nd knob is variously labelled F or D (Fuzz / Distortion) - other controls being Volume, Bass and Treble. This is a more recent variation of the Pink Purple Fuzz (Pink Floyd + Purple Haze) designed to cover a wide variety of flavours from overdrive, through fuzz and onto distortion. It's a hugely versatile pedal with high demand, but produced in very small sporadic batches. Typically the priciest of those on offer here - so that will impact on my likely acquisition - I guess it depends on how much I want it. There are still various editions of the Bearfoot FX Pink Purple Fuzz available which are perfectly fine too - this hand-made variety though just up the range and textures somewhat so for sure is slightly more desirable - but then you really do pay for that! Note that I've been unable to track down a BJFE Purple Fuzz demo - so I've settled on the near-match BearFoot FX Pink Purple Fuzz.


Carl Martin Purple Moon Vintage Fuzz n'Vibe - £115

This is a really cool dual pedal with Uni-Vibe - Depth | Level | Speed, as well as Fuzz | Level controls - for that classic Hendrix vibey texture. Very simple and effective to use, great price, and has been on my wishlist for a while along with a number of the new enclosure design Carl Martins.


Earthbound Audio Centurion Fuzz - $130

I've featured Earthbound's Rat (Iron Pig) and HM-2 (Throat Locust) variants on this site before - and this is their sort of hybrid Fuzz Face derivative with some extra bells and whistles and more gain! There are 5 fairly self-explanatory controls - Texture | Mass | Level | Fuzz | HC - High Cut - with only the Mass parameter requiring further explanation. Mass essentially is a sort of Body style control which beefs up the low-end frequencies in particular and generate a thicker and richer tonality when cranked. This current compact edition is available in two colourways - gold and purple - and is typically in short supply - currently listed as sold out on the official Earthbound Audio site. I was unable to find a demo of the newer compact version, so have selected one of the previous 3-knob medium size generation.


JAM Pedals Fuzz Phrase - £229

This is that classic Germanium CV7003 (military spec OC44) loaded Germanium Fuzz Face which I've featured several times on this site. Will more likely get this plainer enclosure earlier version than the price €349 purple suede enclosed LTD custom shop version currently doing the rounds. Very simple controls - just Level and Gain.


KR Musical Products The Gypsy Fuzz - $240

Contrary to public opinion Kevin Randall looks to be back in business - and this classic Hendrix Band of Gypsys fuzz replica (Essentially an Octavia minus the octave) is available direct once again. This brand has suffered deliverability issues and allegedly some quality control foibles over the years, and was on hiatus for a while. This fuzz has just the classic volume and Fuzz controls, while my Basic Audio version of this has an additional Tone/Bias pot. I believe since Kevin is now back in action, John has suspended making his own version of this. I am vey happy with my Basic Audio variety and thus won't be look to acquire this on this particular occasion.


MXR Super Badass Variac Fuzz - £124

I keep being reminded how MXR do some really decent fuzzes - and here I actually had a choice of 2 purple MXR fuzzes - I could easily have gone with the 3-knob Custom Shop La Machine, but decided instead to go for this Band of Gypsys -based 4 knob version - Tone | Variac | Output | Gain. With the Variac knob you can either Starve or Saturate the Voltage - from 5 to 15 Volts vs 9. So you get a whole load of extra tonality and textures here. That starved slightly croakie fuzz tone is a great sound - so I am happy I went for this selection here. Note that as also mentioned in the intro - the current version of this is a sort of dark sparkly cherry red, while it was previously available in the sparkly purple pictured - which is the version I would try to track down for myself.


Reuss Purple Faze - €130

I've featured this Danish outfit a few times on this site - they're very well known for their fuzz pedals, and they do a pretty mean version of a Germanium Fuzz Face utilising OC140 NPN Transistors. This is a classic rendition with just Level and Intensity controls and sounds suitably dynamic. This is yet another variety of transistor - and I may just want to add this to compare to my other varieties of Germanium Fuzz Face which mostly all use completely different transistors - UK, German, East European, USA and Russian!


Rocket Surgeon Codename Black Hat - $169

I came upon this quite by accident on Reverb.com - and it's certainly an interesting proposition with more of a Tone Bender style circuit topology via a 3 Transistor combination - one very unusual undisclosed 'Black Hat' shaped plastic Germanium Transistor and two TO-5 Metal Can style Silicon Transistors - again not specified. You get a lovely richly saturated tonality here controlled via just the classic Volume and Fuzz knobs. This is for sure an unusual variety of fuzz using unusual components - which typically means I want one!


Vahlbruch Octavia - €185

A classic Octavia style Octave Fuzz with simple Boost and Volume knobs and Octave on/off toggle switch. I've featured this pedal several times on this site, and it's been on the wishlist for a while. It's just a beautifully tuned rich sounding classic octave fuzz - I still intend to get one of these eventually!


Final Thoughts

I've been so engrossed in fuzz for so long now - I intended for 2018 to my Year of Fuzz ToneQuest, and I thought it was coming to a close, but I just need to turn a new corner to find a whole other bunch of fuzz variants that I wasn't aware of before and really need to check out.

 

This has somewhat fed into my current fascination with Transistors - and I'm kind of enjoying acquiring as many different types by way of fuzz pedals as I can to see which varieties I identify best with. I tend to have no preconceptions when I start my fuzz testing - and I'm quite happy for each fuzz to have its own character, texture and tonality, which by and large they all do - despite the increasing numbers I already have.

 

Like I said in the intro - I really like all of these. None is a particular priority necessarily, some are in very short supply - so it's usually a case of what crops up when and where and at what price. Sometimes I'm in the mood and react quick enough to snag one, at other times though I'm less interested - and in this game if you snooze you loose - and I'm quite happy to let the occasional one pass by. There are so many out there now that you really can't have them all. Would be nice to have a few purple ones though ...

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