As you may have guessed from the visual - I am now in possession of all 3 varieties of CTC Constellation - the original OC45 variety, latest Limited Edition CV7003 (OC44) variety (some of those still available if you’re super quick), and current generally available OC41 variety. Crazy Tube Circuits main man Christos Ntaifotis knew of my predilection for set completion, and very graciously supplied the missing piece - or the OC41 edition, in order to round up this compact collection. All 3 pedals have been in my chain for a good couple of weeks now - and probably will remain for quite an extended rotation as I’m still having fun with them - occupying slots #3, #4 and #5.
The idea for this article is to compare the sound signatures and profiles for each edition / variant, in order to establish whether there are any overwhelming preferences in the tones and textures of one variety over the other. For my original OC45 vs CV7003 head-to-head article I really liked each in their own way and could not really split them into order of preferences as each delivered something pretty unique.
So I’m not going to go into any technical details here really - just comparing each of these - principally on their Fuzz Face, MKII, and RangeMaster voicings - a sort of tasting notes type review as such.
I feel it necessary to reiterate the range of these really cleverly engineered fuzzes - by briefly touching on the 6 playback Modes - while the remainder of this article will purely be tasting notes in the three categories mentioned and with some final conclusions and recommendations at the end :
Classic Mick Taylor settings - both Volume and Gain at 2 o'c.
As per my initial run-through, the OC45 comes across as the brightest and most open-pored of the trio, and with the least amount of low-end. It also has the most pronounced dry / reedy edge to it. This is for sure a little lighter and less dense than the other two.
This is funnily enough very much the middle-option here - in that it's darker and more low-end than the OC45, but not quite as deep as the CV7003, nor quite as gainy/saturating. It also seems to have the least amount of 'Reed' present in its timbre.
The CV7003 quite evidently has the most low-end profile, and is very slightly the densest and most saturating here. It's bright/dark character is not that dissimilar to the OC41 in the top end, while it is overall deeper and darker than that, and it has a little more 'Reed' than the OC41 too - but nowhere near as much as the OC45.
Same Classic Mick Taylor settings - both Volume and Gain at 2 o'c.
So same as before this is the brightest of the tree, but not as obviously texturally reedy as in the Fuzz Face mode - this though does seem to have a good balance of frequencies for this voicing - albeit it's not as close to Led Zeppelin 'Whole lotta love' as is the OC41. It can have a slight splashy character a touch because of its brightness - but is still very well-balanced.
The OC41 is quite a revelation here for Led Zep's 'Whole lotta love' and the closest in frequency balance and texture to that from my personal recollection. A really great balance of frequencies and dynamics. I don't typically call out favourites - but this is the favourite really I guess for this voicing.
This is the deepest, darkest and densest as before - with the least amount of top-end brightness. Most likely the best candidate for Single Coils, while possibly a little dark for many Humbuckers. Frequency-profile-wise this encourages me to add a little more high-frequency in on the EQ for my particular setup - which is really not needed for the other two.
So here I tested the RangMaster on its own, also the RMFF MODE - and then a little bit of individual RangeMasters in combination with a Fuzz Face voicing from each of the other two. Starting positions a la Mick Taylor - but then with the level significantly dialled back - particularly on the combinations.
Here again we have the same evident character as before - in that the OC45 is a touch lighter and brighter than the other two. You could argue that the OC45 and OC41 are more successful Treble Boosters as they both deliver more high-end. While the OC41 and CV7003 have progressively more low-end present in the signal.
Like it's MKII voicing this has a pretty even frequency profile - with some degree of brightness, as well as a slightly more prominent low-end. This delivered really well in the separate RM + FF tests running the RangeMaster from the CV7003 into this one's FF - for probably the best balance of frequencies for those combinations.
The CV7003 should have some significant advantage here as it's closest to the original RangeMaster OC44 Transistor Specs. Note that while this delivers somewhat more pronounced texture, it has quite a bit more in the low end, and quite a bit less up-top. Obviously you get that OC44 richness of saturation - but this may render a little dark on some Humbuckers.
These are all fantastic sounding super-versatile fuzzes - with beautiful rich harmonic textures and nuanced fuzz dynamics. They all have a lovely classic fuzz bloom, ebb and flow to them - where each has its own distinct flavour and timbre to a degree, while in many ways just subtly different. All are incredibly authentic across all 6 voicings - with the Fuzz Face cleanup character etc. fully intact.
I've said before how different characters of fuzz inspire different styles of playing and inspire and recall different musical phrasing and dynamics. It's very difficult to rank them in any salient way - as different players will likely prefer different aspects of each. Also, different setups will likely find favour over one variety - such that the CV7003 is possibly overall better suited to Single Coils, and the OC45 better suited to Humbuckers to some degree. Where you could say that the OC41 is the most neutral and balanced option.
Hopefully my tasting notes and detailed descriptions will persuaded you which variety is likely more to your liking - while some of those nuances are difficult to discern unless you trial the pedals directly yourself.
You have to move very quickly to secure one of the very last ones of the CV7003 - which some will prefer to the current OC41 variety - albeit not all. Obviously all the original OC45 varieties have pretty much long since sold out. You can tell how well loved these Constellation fuzzes are by the fact that there are no second-hand versions currently available on Reverb.com. We do however seemingly have 5 x CV7003 still available, 4 listings of the current OC41, and a single OC45 variety available in Finland! all from Reverb.com - and all Brand New.
I've lived the longest with my original OC45 (Since April 2018) - and there's much to love about that - the others have more low-end and more dense textures - tone profile wise it's largely a case of OC45 Brightest, OC41 sort of in the Middle, and CV7003 slightly deeper and denser still.
You could also say that the OC45 delivers overall the most interesting Fuzz Face voicing, the OC41 is particularly strong for Led Zep / Jimmy Page MKII stylings, and finally the CV7003 is the optimal Range Master variety - and works well in combination with the others.
Each of these has its forte, and on different days I will undoubtedly prefer different variants. The most commonly available OC41 variant is no lesser than the other two - some will undoubtedly prefer its well-balanced character and frequency profile. And while there is significant overlap here - each of these is very much distinct too.
I say get your hands on whichever variant you can - I would be very surprised if you did not love it.
Like I have said a couple of times here already - you need to move relatively quickly if you want the last of the CV7003, and in fact incredibly quickly for the last remaining original OC45 variant in the wild. While there should be no limit on the OC41's that Christos is still building regularly.
For now both the CV7003 and OC41 varieties are available from the Crazy Tube Circuits Webstore.