You may recall that back in April I reported how I had received delivery of 3 fantastic Mini Fuzz Pedals from Dave ’Pickdropper’ Friesema, and I shared some of the highlights from that burgeoning Mini Pedal Range. With my first order I took delivery of a Clusterfuzz Mini, Professional MKIII and Hive Mind Fuzz (Baldwin Burns Buzzaround). I then spotted a new custom 2-knob MKI variety on the Pickdropper Insta, and asked Dave if he couldn’t oblige me with a 3-knob version thereof - with external bias.
To which ends he produced a version for me with an external Q3 Bias - of the sort I find so essential for most fuzz pedals, and particularly Germanium varieties. This specimen makes use of 3 x 2N404 transistors and sounds absolutely glorious. It has just the right degree of ’Ronno’ bite and zing, and has a beautifully dialled-in noise-floor. Most fuzz aficionados are aware that the TB MKI is one of the most difficult Fuzz circuits to make - and every one such has to be very carefully calibrated for the optimum balance of tone, texture and noise.
I have been so delighted with each of these that I’m determined now to complete the TB set as such with a MKI.V and MKII - the latter sort of in honour too of the forthcoming Boss TB-2W. Readers will know that if you’re a David Bowie fan - then the MKI is that perfect Mick ’Ronno’ Ronson Ziggy Stardust tone, while the throatier MKII, and creamy violin-like sustaining distortion of the MKIII are different eras of Jimmy Page / Led Zeppelin - the MKII being that fantastic ’Whole Lotta Love’ sound, and the MKIII appearing on later tracks like ’The Girl I Love She Got Long Black Wavy Hair’. The Baldwin Burns Buzzaround MKIII forerunner - here in the guise of the Hive Mind, was supposedly King Crimson’s Robert Fripp’s Fuzz of choice back in those days - it’s character is slightly more strident than the Sola Sound MKIII.
Each of these mini fuzzes has been beautifully hand-assembled and delicately calibrated and fine-tuned - and these sound every bit as good as anything out there of much larger size. I often read with dismay how certain players talk down Mini pedals - while there are a few builders out there who do extraordinary things with the format, and Dave Friesama is one such in the vanguard. All his mini pedals are exceptional, and he turns his hand to a whole variety of different genres, while I feel his fuzz pedals are particularly special. He’s recently revealed a fantastic 4-knob mini TD-X / Control Grid Overdrive - which I absolutely have to have too!
I will likely put in another order early next year for a MKI.V, MKII, and Control Grid - bringing my tally to 7. There is something really satisfying in getting such a beautifully textured big sound out of something so small. These are beatifully made from the finest components - including those very fine milled aluminium knobs. These are certainly the state of the art for this form factor - and I encourage each of you to go check them out.
The 4th pedal featured here is the Mini Clusterfuzz - Dave’s own proprietary multi-clipping fuzz circuit which delivers an impossibly wide array of fuzz tones and textures. It’s a shame that there aren’t proper demos out for any of these quite yet - bar the Hive Mind, and the Mini Clusterfuzz is actually a little bit better than the Clusterfuzz Jr I’ve featured for reference purposes below. The Mini has Mosfet, Silicon and No Clipping options and a full variable knob for 8-Bit, while the Jr has LED, Silicon and No Clipping and a 2-way 8-Bit / 24-Bit switch.
To round this off - we have a couple of reference demos for the Hive Mind and Clusterfuzz Jr :