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Boost and Overdrive

2 Vibrant Extended Range Fuzz Pedals - KHDK Unicorn Blood II and Wren and Cuff J Mascis Garbage Face

Big Muff Style FuzzFuzzFuzz-Drive and FuzzstortionKHDKOctave FuzzSilicon FuzzWren and Cuff+-
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I was trying to figure out how best to cover the new Wren and Cuff J Mascis Garbage Face Fuzz with Germanium Treble Boost, when along came the equally cartoonish graphic’d KHDK Unicorn Blood II - another Dark Matter Coffee Octave Fuzz collaboration.


In fact only the general aesthetic approach here is the same - similar form-factor and similar number of controls, but the internals being quite different. The KHDK one is a Dark, Fat, Octave Fuzz, capable of some really sludgy tones, while the Wren & Cuff J Mascis collaboration I believe is based on a Ram’s Head style Muff circuit with Germanium Boost and Dual Volume Settings.


I was quite intrigued by the Garbage Face when it came out and thought it should go onto the wishlist. While the Unicorn Blood II is probably even more to my liking with that combination of controls. It too has a Boos - albeit one activated by toggle-switch.


At the offset I would say that I am probably more tempted to seek out the Unicorn Blood variety, but the proviso is that getting pedals from the USA currently is incredibly difficult. It looks like USPS has lost my package with 3 Menatone pedals - which was dispatched on March the 18th, but for which there is no tracking update beyond March 28th - which puts the package in some North Carolina depot - likely buried under a mount of other internal packages which seem to have been curbed by the current Pandemic. It appears national postal services are particularly badly impacted, while the other professional courier services seem a degree more reliable. There are some pedal companies that I have made commitments to, but which the current circumstances are severely hampering.


As a pedal blog - it’s kind of difficult to function when those essential references and resources just aren’t getting through. The exercise becomes somewhat nebulous and superficial to a degree - but that is what we have to contend with.


There’s obviously severe financial constraints for many individuals here too, as even though various companies are ticking along - it does not necessarily mean all the bills are getting paid. So we are all having to deal with some significant challenges - and these little boxes of delight which keep so many of us contented and entertained are proving ever more difficult to get your hands on.


My pedal acquisitions are largely on hiatus at the moment - and those pick-me-ups I went for have somewhat failed to materialise thus far. Lots of these pedals are not getting through to dealers - and certainly not landing on these shores anytime soon!


Here follow a few more details on each of the above featured pedals :

KHDK Unicorn Blood II Octave Fuzz Dark Matter Coffee Collaboration (420 limited run) - $230


This is the follow-up to the very rapidly sold out blue version original. A slightly tweaked now tighter sounding fuzz circuit from its predecessor. First 250 orders come with a bag of Dark Matter Coffee - if that's your thing! Obviously more problematic when shipping abroad. I actually really love everything about this fuzz - possibly would be cool to have the boost on another footswitch like the Garbage Face below, but I actually really like the control topology here and this particular combination of features. I have still to get in the Wampler Fuzzstration - which is a rather different take on a similar theme - octave fuzz with 3-Band EQ. While right now - this Unicorn Blood II is somehow more appealing to me. The site says pre-order pedal with at least 3 month turnaround. This is a really nice-to-have for me, but difficult to weigh up against the current circumstances and the difficulties with delivery - perhaps I will need to get this one on the flip - we'll see.


The pedal has 10 controls :

  • Fuzz = Degree of Fuzz / Gain / Saturation
  • Volume = Output Level
  • Treble = High Frequency EQ
  • Bass = Low Frequency EQ
  • Octatone = Intensity / Character of Octave Effect in conjunction with Octave Footswitch
  • Fat Switch = Engage for more low-end boom
  • Boost = Engage for more Aggression
  • Sludge = Engage for more Doom!
  • On/Off Footswitch = Bypass
  • Octave Footswitch = Engage Octave Effect - further controlled by 'Octatone' knob

Wren and Cuff J Mascis Garbage Face Fuzz (Muff) with Boost - $350


I believe this is at least Dinosaur JR's J Mascis' third purple signature pedal collaboration, following on from the earlier Double Rock (Zvex) and Fuzz Munchkin (Tym) pedals. This looks like the best one yet with a real emphasis on practical live playback dynamics - via the dual Volume settings and separate boost. I believe this is based on J Mascis' favourite Ram's Head Muff style circuit - tweaked to his preferences. This is another really cool package all-round whose first run sold out pretty much on the spot. This will undoubtedly be some sort of limited run eventually, although we know that Wren and Cuff are definitely working on a second run but not overall what the limits will be - it's still probably best to get in their quick if you want to secure one and avoid disappointment.


The pedal has 9 controls :

  • Volume = Output Level 1 - toggled by Volume 1-2 Footswitch
  • Tone = EQ Dark > Bright
  • Gain = Degree of Gain / Saturation
  • Volume 2 = Output Level 2 - toggled by Volume 1-2 Footswitch
  • Full / Treble Switch = Select Full Frequency or Treble Booster Boost Modes - further controlled by 'Boost' dial
  • Boost = Boost Level
  • Fuzz Footswitch = Engage Core Fuzz
  • Volume 1-2 Footswitch = Toggle between Volume 1 and 2 as set on corresponding dials
  • Treble Boost = Engage Boost

Final Thoughts

These are both really cool pedals - I guess the artwork may put off some more seriously minded individuals. But for these times we find ourselves in - these seem to be the perfect antidote to all that dreariness.


I really like both of these for different reasons, but as mentioned earlier won't be getting either one any time soon for all manner of reasons. I'm probably leaning slightly more towards the Unicorn Blood at the moment - can't really say why - there's just something about it's overall combination of features and delivery that makes me want one.


What say you?

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Stefan Karlsson
Stefan Karlsson
Guitar Pedal X
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