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Celebrate 9 of Ben and Louise's Best Pedals while Dwarfcraft Devices Goes on Extended Hiatus

Big Muff Style FuzzDelayDigital DelayDwarfcraftEnvelope Filter and Auto WahFuzzFuzz-Drive and FuzzstortionGated and Velcro FuzzGlitchModulated FuzzModulationOctave FuzzOctaverOddball FuzzOpAmp FuzzOscillating FuzzPitchPitch-ShiftingRing ModulationSilicon Fuzz+-
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I am a touch sad to read that after 13 great years of innovation and independent creativity - the power couple at the heart of Dwarfcraft Devices - Benjamin Hinz and Louise Woletz Hinz - have decided to move on to pastures new. It seems both have landed their dream jobs very recently - which will likely give them more stability and a better quality of life than they have hitherto enjoyed through making pedals - obviously with the current economic uncertainty it’s great to have a positive route forward.

 

I have featured several of their slightly leftfield creations on this site before - in fact pretty much all of those in this listing in one guise or another. They bow out with another couple of ’Boris’ collaboration variants (Love and Evol) of their best known flagship Eau Claire Thunder Feedback Fuzz - named after their Wisconsin Home Town.

 

I have always associated Dwarfcraft in the main with their larger dual-footswitch vertical medium-enclosure pedals - and various types of fuzzes, but also Pitch Shifting, Ring Modulation, Envelope Filtering and Phasing. This listing includes my own preferences for favourite Dwarfcraft pedals - in my preferred edition / colourway. Many of these are the latest editions, but some here are significantly older versions which I prefer because of specific format and design.

 

Pretty much all of these have been on my wishlists over the years, so it’s something of a mystery why I don’t have more of these in my extensive collection - as I have really seriously considered each of these at one stage or another. Of course my own favourite pedal format is the compact dual-footswitch enclosure - so it’s somewhat fitting that the only one I have acquired to-date is the wonderfully grinding, splatty, starved octave-style SheFuzz (formerly Shiva Fuzz). Which I thought I had missed out on the last limited run of 50 pedals, but I spotted one for sale very recently at Germany’s Effekt Boutique.

 

There’s another fuzz that just misses out on this listing - the Necromancer Super Fuzz style fuzz - while on balance I feel this particular selection is about as good a representation of the brand as it could be. I will definitely look to hunt down a few more pedals in the interim - with the Eau Claire Thunder Gold Standard Fuzzstortion, Grazer Micro-Sampling Glitcher, and Witch Shifter Pitch Shifter being at the forefront of that list.

 

I sincerely hope too that Dwarfcraft aren’t gone for good - and will grace us with the occasional limited or special editions at some stage in the future. Ben and Louise have promised to keep maintaining their pedals for at least the next few months - while they run down their final stock - which is actually pretty low as is - but quite a few pedals still in circulation with dealers.

 

I’m not sure if we’ll get some sort of discontinued Halo effect on these pedals now - with silly price rises etc? With a view to the current global situation it’s highly unlikely that will happen - as sales of near enough every non-essential item have somewhat slowed down. I sincerely hope Dwarfcraft isn’t gone for good, and I will do my best to catch up a little more during their hopefully temporary absence.

 

There are currently 129 Dwarfcraft listings on Reverb.com and 34 on Ebay - and more still with several dealers as mentioned - including 4 dealers in the UK - so there should be plenty still to go around for a while.

 

Here follow a few more details on my 9 favourites :


Eau Claire Thunder Gold Standard Muff-Style Fuzzstortion - $229

The most recent Gold Standard variety is my favourite edition of the Eau Claire Thunder Fuzzstortion pedal, albeit I may be persuaded to go for the even more diminutive Baby Thunder Compact Enclosure Edition. Both the Gold Standard and Baby Thunder do without the Feedback circuit which comes with the large-format triple-footswitch Eau Claire original which has the Feedback circuit with corresponding Feedback Footswitch and Feedback Tune knob - also found on the Reese Lighting. In fact you can view the Gold Standard and Reese Lighting as two sides of the original Eau Claire - with one having the Toneblast Footswitch and the other having the Feedback Footswitch. In the Gold Standard edition the Toneblast / Tone Bypass is on a footswitch, while on the Baby Thunder it is reduced to a toggle-switch.

 

The Gold Standard is a 70 limited edition run featuring rare NOS Fairchild 2n5133 Transistors - and is generally considered a more refined version of the Eau Claire Thunder sound. There is another fairly rare earlier Shiny and Chrome edition also with different transistors.

 

The Gold Standard has 7 controls :

  • Trim = pre-gain Volume / distortion clean-up
  • Time Warp = Engage Clipping Diode
  • Volume = Output Volume
  • Tone = Darker > Brighter
  • Distortion = Degree of Gain
  • Toneblast Footswitch = Tone Bypass
  • Bypass Footswitch = On/Off

 


Ghost Fax 4-Mode Phase Computer - $249

I featured this in my head-to-head feature on 4 Extended-Range Medium Enclosure Phasers. The fact that it comes with a Knobs demo video is always a good sign. And I prefer the original version as pictured as it clearly lays out the Mode options on the front panel, which the later green design does not. There's some very healthy competition in this space as my previous article indicates - but this one is very much worthy of your consideration.

 

It has 9 controls :

  • Volume = Output Level
  • Action = Mode Dependent Control - changes Motion of Phaser
  • Mix = Wet/Dry Mix
  • Feedback = Degree of Feedback / Resonance, at Max delivers self-oscillation
  • Poles = Subtract/Add Number of Pole - from 2 to 32
  • Mode Selectors Left + Right = >> - Standard | >< Manual | << Envelope Up | <> Envelope Down
  • XPD = Xpression Pedal Destination - to the right Expression controls 'Poles' to the left it controls 'Action'
  • Pause = Pause / Freeze of Phaser Motion in any mode
  • Bypass = On/Off

Grazer Micro Sample Slice Repeater - $229

This has been featured before in some of my Glitch Pedal Roundups - and remains a viable option for me in that area, while I still have a couple more higher priorities to get in ahead of it. It's a classic Granular Synthesis pedal with Grain / Buffer playback and manipulation and included pitch-shifting. This may well end up in the collection at some stage.

 

It has 10 controls :

  • Volume = Output Level
  • Grab = Speed of AGR (Automated Grab Cycle Sample Grain-Pool)
  • Mix = Wet/Dry Mix
  • Pitch = Shifts the Pitch of the Grain-Pool up
  • Size = Length of Micro-Samples / Grains
  • AGR = Enables 'Automated Grab' Cycle
  • XPD = Expression Pedal Destination - Right is 'Size', Left is 'Pitch'
  • F/R = Forward/Reverse playback direction of Grains
  • Grab Footswitch = Defines Grab and Hold Cycle / Buffer Size - which continues as long as the switch is held
  • Bypass Footswitch = On/Off

Happiness Multi-Mode Filter and LFO - $275

This is a really great all-rounder filter pedal - while I've personally pretty firmly settled on more compact varieties of late like Dr Scientist's Dusk, and Flower Pedals' Hosta. I have featured the Happiness Filter a couple of times on this site, and the Happiness's Knobs demo video of course attests to its greatness.

 

It has 10 controls :

  • Freq = Cutoff Frequency for Filter
  • Rez = Resonance - delivers high volume oscillation beyond 12 o'c
  • Depth - Attenuverter controlling depth and direction of LFO Modulation; at 12 o'c there is 0 Modulation
  • Master = Output Level
  • Rate = Speed of Modulating LFO
  • Shape = Waveshape - Symmetrical triangle at 12 o'c downward Saw Ramp to left, upward Saw Ramp to the right
  • Speed = Rate of 'Scramble' effect - Smoothed Sample and Hold which pauses LFO at regular intervals
  • Scramble = Engage Scramble effect as above
  • State = 3 filter modes - Up is High Pass, Middle is Band Pass and Down is Low Pass
  • Bypass Footswtich = On/Off

Hax 2 Ring Modulator, Envelope Follower and Filter - $249

I can't say I'm necessarily the biggest fan of Ring Modulators - it has mostly just been ANO flavour on my extended Modulation Pedals which I rarely use. That said the Hax is one of the more interesting ones out there, and it has featured in my Ring Modulator Roundup before. Possibly if I were ever to get a stand-alone Ring Modulator unit - it would most likely be this one.

 

The Hax 2 has 9 Controls :

  • Freq = Select Base Frequency of Modulation
  • Speed = Rate of Envelope Follower
  • Depth = Intensity of Envelope Effect at the Base Frequency
  • Blend = Wet/Dry Mix
  • CV Out = Control Voltage Jack for external device triggering
  • Ring/Filter = Mode Switch - Up for Ring Modulation, Down for Filter
  • Sine/LP | Square/BP = Sub-Mode Switch - Sine or Square Wave for Ring Modulation, Low Pass or Band Pass for Filter
  • Up/Down = Direction of Envelope
  • Bypass Footswtich = On/Off

Reese Lightning Feedback Fuzzstortion - $209

 

In some ways this is sort of like a turbo-charged other half of the full-size Eau Claire Thunder - with the Feedback function on the second footswitch. It has many similar controls - but here the Toneblast (Tone Bypass) is rendered as a toggle-switch. There's huge amounts of Gain in this Fuzzstortion circuit and this is another really cool Dwarfcraft Fuzz in its own right.

 

It has 9 controls :

  • Volume = Output Level
  • Tone = Dark to Bright
  • Gain = Lots of Gain to Tons of Gain!
  • Mix = Dry/Wet Mix
  • Toneblast = Tone Bypass
  • Timewarp = Engagers Clipping Diodes
  • Feedback Tune = Controls Degree of Feedback Noise triggered by Feedback Footswitch
  • Bypass Footswitch = On/Off
  • Feedback Footswitch = Engages Feedback / Noise Circuit

SheFuzz Grinding Starved Splatty Compressed Octave Fuzz - $179

This is my one Dwarfcraft Device to-date and a really cool compact fuzz it is too. Its key flavour here is the splatty texture of that starved voltage tone, then further supplemented by an upper octave and thickened up by compression. I love dual footswitch compact pedals - and there really aren't many fuzzes in that category - so this one is a real joy for me.

 

It has 8 controls :

  • Power = Voltage Input - in effect Starve Control - more Starve CCW
  • Texture = Texture of Distortion from Rough to Smoother
  • Volume = Output Level
  • Starve = Latching Switch to Permanently Engage Starve Mode
  • Octave = Engage Octave Effect
  • Comp = Apply Heavy Compression
  • Starve Footswitch = Momentary Starve Mode Switch
  • Bypass Footswitch = On/Off

Witch Shifter Pitch Shifter and Octaver with Fuzz and Delay! - $249

Dwarfcraft has a celebrated history with Pitch-Shifters - ranging from its compact Wizard of Pitch through to the larger more fully featured Super Wizard and PitchGrinder 8-Step Pitch Sequencer. So the Witch Shifter is a Medium Enclosure edition but in many ways has the coolest feature set of all - which combines Pitch-Shifting with Fuzz, and adds a Secret Delay Mode - as follows :

 

The Witch Shifter has 13 Control Parameters to it including the Secret / Secondary Delay ones

  • Volume = Output Level
  • Fuzz = Introduces Crunch and Hiss and all out Distortion
  • Mix = Dry/Wet Blend
  • Speed = Rate of Pitch Shift and Cross-Fade, in Bend mode controls Rate of Bend
  • Pitch = Adjust Pitch from -1 to +1 Octave
  • Scatter = Make Pitch Shifting More Random / Twittery / Squirrelly - combine with 'Bend' for random arpeggios
  • XPD = Expression Pedal Destination - Up is Pitch, Down is Speed
  • Bend = Engages Bend / Decay Effect so that Pitch falls as input volume fades - further defined by 'Speed' knob
  • DinDinDin Footswtich - Engage Freeze to Audio Buffer for Glitch-Out
  • Bypass Footswitch = On/Off

Secondary - Secret Delay Settings

 

Hold DinDinDin Footswitch and Tap Bypass to activate :

  • Fuzz knob = Controls Delay Time
  • Speed knob = Dry/Delay Mix
  • Pitch knob = Feedback / Number of Repeats

The Wizard of Pitch - $179

Not quite as cool as the Witch Shifter - but still pretty neat for its form factor and it does share some of the same great functionality. I could foresee this as being evolved to a dual footswitch pedal at some stage for momentary engagement of either Step or Bender functions. If you're tight for space - then this is a great stand-in, while I really prefer the Witch Shifter in most ways - I can still though see me owning both eventually.

 

It has 7 controls :

  • Pitch = Adjust Pitch from -1 to +1 Octave
  • Mix = Dry/Wet Blend
  • Speed = Rate of Cross Fade from Dry to Pitch-Shifted Signal, when Bender is active it controls rate of Pitch decay - i.e. Pitch falls when input volume fades
  • Boost = Output Level really
  • Step = When Down, Tuning changes by Half Steps, when Up Running is Free - when Bender and Step are engaged you get more of a Pitch Jump effect
  • Bender = Engages Bend / Decay Effect so that Pitch falls as input volume fades - further defined by 'Speed' knob
  • Bypass = On/Off

Final Thoughts

All the featured pedals here are great - and I believe most of them are still largely obtainable one way or another. Upon completing this particular roundup my priorities may have adjusted slightly, and I'm probably looking to get in more of the compact editions first - like the Baby Thunder and Wizard of Pitch - before I look to the Eau Claire Gold Standard, Grazer and Witch Shifter - which besides the SheFuzz obviously are my favourites here.

 

I will definitely be sticking to the compact and medium enclosure form factor adhered to in this listing - and there are a few more varieties that warrant consideration - like the Great Destroyer, Fuzz, Necromancer Fuzz, and Silver Rose Fuzz - actually the last mentioned is larger - so possibly not, although it remains an interesting proposition and overlaps with Devi-Ever.

 

None of these pedals are in anyway mainstream or vanilla pedal types but rather somewhat quirkier offshoots which may not appeal to all. I've always liked what Dwarfcraft do - but like I've said on many occasions there's way too much of everything out there to collect them all. I would still like to have a handful of these in my reference collection as I do consider them pretty uniquely great. So the next steps here really are the one or two compacts and then a Witch Shifter at least. What about you guys? Any favourites from Dwarfcraft's past that you rate and believe I should have included / featured here?

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Stefan Karlsson
Stefan Karlsson
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