This article pulls together Jack White’s 4 key pedal collaborations from the very first Union Tube & Transistor Bumble Buzz Fuzz through to the recent Coppersound Triplegraph. I myself have been intrigued about these along the way - and am still pondering if I still need to add one or two more of these to my own collection / rig.
I already have a limited edition Yellow Plasma Coil, and am in line to get a standard Triplegraph in the new year. I was sort of waiting for the Triplegraph to get into UK distribution - as the $400 is a lot to pay - when you include delivery and import / customs fee of circa 25% added all-in. I’ve been communication with Co-Founder / Design Director Jordan Collins - and he tells me the next batch of Triplegraphs is due very early next year - there was a recent announcement of possible European distribution, while I’m not 100% clear on how long the Third Man Records exclusivity lasts for - as these have only been available from that one webstore to-date. So I’m definitely getting one of these, but really want to secure one at the best price for me obviously - and since I’ve already waited a while, I’ve decided there is no rush here if I can avoid roughly 1/3 of the cost in addition. It’s still going to be something of a challenge to fit that relatively large pedal into the rig - but I have some ideas.
The Bumble Buzz Fuzz is quite a unique take on the Superfuzz as far as I can gather - with a very dense and focused distortion/fuzzstortion, and no controls on the pedal bar the Standby switch. The Bumble Buzz’s are currently out of stock / finished as such, but were priced at $325 for new, and they do occasionally crop up on Reverb.com.
I’m not sure I really need the Bumble Buzz, as I have Toneczar Ed Rembold’s Vault Fuzz - which is about the most controllable Superfuzz you can get your hands on - and should be able to easily fill in as an understudy for that role. I’m not 100% clear whether the Bumble is a signature pedal based on another Union Tube & Transistor classic - possibly their discontinued one-knob Beelzebuzz. Likeliest scenario for me here is that I may just pick up a well-priced second-hand one at some stage in the future if the time and tag is right. Oh and by the way - this is the Fuzz tone on Jack White’s ’Sixteen Saltines’ track!
With regards to the Mantic Flex - I already have the more formidable White edition Flex Pro with extended feature set - so I’m not sure I really need the Jack White branded junior version of that. Pricing-wise it’s not too bad at $200 - with still some availability. I’m really not that big a fanboy of Jack White as such that I need all the mercy - but I do frequently admire his tone and technique.
Of late he seems to be using mostly the Triglegraph in conjunction with the Plasma Coil - so once I get the Triplegraph I should be fairly well covered!
The above visual is my own take on this subject matter. Like I said - I will be getting the standard Coppersound Triplegraph in the new year.
I already have the Limited Edition Gamechanger Plasma Coil.
I have the Mantic Flex Pro - which delivers somewhat extended functionality to the standard / Jr variety that the Jack White Mantic Flex is based on.
I quite like the sound of the Bumble Buzz - still not decided 100% whether or not I actually want one of those. In the meantime the Toneczar Vault High Gain Fuzz is the most sizzling and versatile of all Super-Fuzz style pedals. So even if I don't get the Bumble Buzz I should have more than sufficient coverage with that!
This performance was obviously in the wake of Eddie Van Halen's passing - and in tribute Jack White sported his Custom EVH Gear Wolfgang he had commissioned in collaboration with Eddie.
The actual pedalboard is arranged as follows from top-left to bottom-right :
I've already said pretty much everything there is to be said about this sort of Super-Fuzz style variety. It has a really dense and focused sound, not quite as 'blooming' as your typical Super-Fuzz but in truth a really great sort of wiry and strident fuzzstortion.
I've yet to make up my mind as to whether I really need to add this to the collection to - for now the Toneczar Vault gives me more than enough Super-Fuzz style coverage to relatively easily sub in for the Bumble Buzz - at least in my opinion.
The Mantic Flex is a smart take on the Schumann Phase Locked Loop Harmonizing + Oscillating Synth Fuzz Pedal! It's virtue really is in the simplicity of its 5 controls. I have the Mantic Pro version with 3 additional controls and additional second footswitch - for more finessing and control. But like I said there will be many players who prefer the simplicity of the fewer controls.
Those considering the Mantic Flex PLL should also cast their eyes towards the Beetronix Swarm, which I also have - and which is actually probably my preferred take on the PLL format. I also have the PedalPCB Mini Heterodyne Receiver - which is probably the best compact format of the PLL circuit.
For the Mantic Flex Pro you have 6 dials - Level (Output), Focus (Attack), Pump (Envelope Speed), Mix (Dry/Wet), Filter (6 x VCO/Range Sizes) and Rate (LFO Modulation); then two toggle switches under the protective bar - '$' (Decay Length - up = longer) and '&' (Attack/Sensitivity - up = slower), and finally dual footswitches with the left one the On/Bypass and the right on the LFO Activation.
On the Standard / TMR Flex you are reduced to Level, Focus and Pump, and the two '$' Decay Length and '&' Attack Sensitivity switches.
This is my first and only so far Third Man Records pedal - actually the super rare original Yellow variety. The one thing to note is that once you engage the secondary effects - via right-hand footswitch, the output volume rises very significantly.
The Crew at Gamechanger reported that this was a known issue - and if I wanted it fixed - I would need to send in my Yellow original and get a standard black edition as a replacement - which I as unwilling to do obviously.
It differs from the original Plasma Pedal in that it replaces the central 'Voltage' control for a 6-way Boost and Octave Modes selector - it could really do with an additional Effects Level / Mix knob! :
I've already covered this pedal in incredible detail in my main Triplegraph Feature Article. Suffice to say it's a brilliantly and robustly engineered Triple-Telegraph-Switch control pedal - which allows you to apply Octave Down, Octave Up, and Dry Kill Switch / FX Loop Engage in multiple combinations.
Weirdly the Triplegraph manual just lists dual key combinations - while if you watch a Jack White performance - you can see him stomping down on all 3 simultaneously too.
For me this is a fantastic dynamic performance pedal - and a significant notch above other octave pedals for that dynamic use.
This is one that I really intended to get into the collection this year, but alas the omens weren't favourable - and so it's a major priority for next year instead.
I guess if you're a total Jack White fanboy then the only solution is to have them all! While for us slightly more pragmatic types it involves doing a thorough analysis of exactly what you're getting here for you money - and whether you could be better served elsewhere.
For my own money - the Triplegraph and Plasma Coil have no exact or proper near match substitutes - and those are therefore essential. For the Mantic Flex you have a few options, and like I said above, it's probably the Beetronics Swarm that is my favourite take on the PLL circuit - so even though I also have the Mantic Flex Pro, I would personally probably go with the Swarm as my PLL of choice.
The more I think about the Bumble Buzz the more I kind of like it - but it's a matter really of securing one at the right price - so I'm well prepared to wait for one to pitch up with the right tag.
Funny thing is I'm also obviously a collector - and sometimes I look at clusters of pedals - and feel 'I've got to complete the set'. So it may just be that I will eventually have all 4 Third Man Record variants here - but I'm in no particular hurry really - apart from the fact that I really want the Triplegraph as soon as possible.
Where is your thinking with all of this - are you fans of Jack White or his pedals - do you have or are you considering getting any of these - do drop me a line ...