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Jackson Audio Announces 3 innovative forthcoming pedals - The Modular Fuzz, Golden Boy Programmable Overdrive + Boost and El Guapo Programmable Distortion + Overdrive

Big Muff Style FuzzBlues Driver Style OverdriveBoostBoost and OverdriveDistortionDriveDual-DriveEffects Pedal MakersFuzzFuzz-Drive and FuzzstortionJackson AudioMarshall Style DistortionMetal DistortionMulti-DriveOctave FuzzOverdriveTone Bender Style FuzzTubescreamer Style Overdrive+-
2020GPXJacksonAudioGoldenFuzz700.jpg

I caught some early preview snaps of these on Instagram - and have been waiting for a while for better resources to appear yet to no avail. In the end I had to make my own composites from the best reference I could find online as it does not appear Jackson Audio will be releasing proper details during the show. I was able to do decent facsimiles of the Modular Fuzz and Golden Boy - and will do the El Guapo Distortion image/overview separately / additionally later - as and when better references appear.

 

I have been a fan of Jackson Audio right from the start - acquiring each of their flagship pedals as they are/were released - the Prism Boost + Buffer + EQ + PreAmp, Bloom Compressor + EQ + Blooming Boost, and Broken Arrow Programmable Overdrive + Boost. Each of those plays a key part in my pedal-chain and has from release.

 

I don’t understand why the Broken Arrow did not get more love last year - it was one of my pedals of the year, and is properly innovative in how it functions with its 4 different overdrive modes on the left footswitch, 4 boost modes on the right, and variable stepped gain levels when both footswitches are pressed together. In any case as far as I’m concerned Jackson Audio is operating on Chase Bliss Audio level of innovation and the footswitch selectable elements actually put Jackson Audio ahead in some areas.

 

New for 2020 as I mentioned are 3 cool pedals - a modular fuzz, a warm overdrive and a searing distortion. I will target each individually - including all the details I have to date. Note that these are really teaser prototype versions of NAMM with actual release due quite a bit later I the year - most likely early summer or thereabouts.


Modular Fuzz - $199

The very first Jackson Audio Fuzz has two sets of controls to match the two footswitches - Fuzz elements / parameters are enabled on the left-hand footswitch and controlled by Volume | Mid-Frequency | Fuzz | Bass | Middle | Treble. While the right-hand Footswitch activates the Octave element - which is controlled by mini Volume | Blend | Octave knobs. The Octave Circuit is based on the Foxx Tone Machine.

 

Unlike the Jackson Audio Drive and Distortion pedals there are no multiple-modes on the footswitches alas - while the modular format comes from swappable super-compact snap-in circuit boards or 'cards' as they are calling them. So the core fuzz on this is a 3-Band EQ + Parametric Mids adjustable Fuzz Face style - where you can buy additional fuzz modules / boards for $39 each, and they will include at least a Big Muff and Tone Bender early on, with further varieties being issued periodically. I really like the idea of his format - but would have wished for some of that typical Jackson Audio smart footswitch functionality here - while the circuitboard modules are still clever. If I'm going to be serious about this format, I will likely get two Modular Fuzzes (Enclosures) in different colourways and then swap the modules between those two - so I can if I wish employ 2 such at a time in my pedal-chain.

 

As pedal-tweaker I really like the elegance of this approach with the 9 separate controls - I'm genuinely excited to take this for a spin when it materialises - obviously there is quite a bit of work to be done still - with the various other modules etc. So there are no firm details on release dates - but likely early summer.

 

I still feel that Jackson Audio could do a clever multi-circuit / fuzz along similar lines to the Broken Arrow - both for a multi-mode Fuzz Face / Tonebender style fuzz and Big Muff multi-mode fuzz!


Golden Boy Blues-Breaker Style Warm Programmable Overdrive + Boost - $299

I have mistakenly possibly mentioned the Broken Arrow before as being a Joey Landreth Signature Pedal - and while he has been using it a lot in 2019, he always wanted something rather based on the Blue Breaker / King of Tone style circuit, versus the Tube Screamer core of the Broken Arrow. So this Golden Boy circuit is the one that is actually the Signature Joey Landreth pedal!

 

That said - I myself have found the Broken Arrow to be exceptional in all areas - using mainly the Magenta / Asymmetrical DS-1 Style mode, while supplementing that with all the other flavours on a quite regular rotation - the different flavours are governed by Left and Right footswitches as follows :

 

Broken Arrow - Left Footswitch 4 x Clipping Modes

  • Green : Tube Screamer - 2 x Symmetrical Silicon Diode Clipping
  • Magenta : Boss DS-1 - 3 x Asymmetric Silicon Diode Clipping
  • Blue : Timmy - 4 x Symmetrical Silicon Diode Clipping
  • Amber : Plexi - 2 x Symmetrical Red LED Clipping

Broken Arrow - Right Footswtich 4 x Boost Modes

  • Yellow : Bright / Treble Booster
  • Green : Mid Bump Boost
  • Aqua : Full Range Boost with Low Cut
  • Blue : Full Frequency Full Range Boost

The other ingenious thing the Broken Arrow does is that by pressing both footswitches together you step through 25% increments of the total Gain level set on that dial - so with the footswitches you can control 4 Overdrives, 4 Boosts, and 4 levels of Gain all in an instant!

 

All that functionality gets carried over to the Golden Boy - which Joey Landreth mentions has two conventional Blues Breaker style clipping modes and 2 new innovative / more unusual ones - I believe the right-hand boost element will remain the same as before.

 

Like Joey I probably mostly favour warmer sounding overdrives - so when available, I would rotate the Golden Boy into the chain in place of the Broken Arrow on slot #10.


El Guapo JCM800 Style Programmable Distortion + Overdrive - $279

El Guapo JCM800 Style Programmable Distortion + Overdrive - $279

I was alas unable to get my hands on a decent enough source image for me to work my Photoshop magic on - so the visual for this one will have to come later. These are likely all prototypes to a degree in any case and not definitive production-ready examples - so I will of course do more follow-up articles closer to the release date - or when I have been furnished with further details.

 

Jackson Ampworks has an Amp called El Guapo and I was expecting this to me more of a straightlaced PreAmp initially - while Brad Jackson definitely describes this as a JCM800 style Distortion with 4 different clipping modes on the left footswitch, and 4 Overdrive types / modes on the right. Possible this is just a variation of the Broken Arrow Tube Screamer clipping modes and diodes on the right-hand-side.

 

In any case we have two different effects controlled by 2 different groups of knobs. The larger knobs govern the JCM800 Style Distortion - Volume | Presence | Distortion | Bass | Middle | Treble. While the Overdrive - most likely Tube Screamer side just gets the classic simple 3 controls : Volume | Tone | Drive.

 

For Maximum Utility I will likely deploy both the Golden Boy and El Guapo in my chain - giving me maximum flexibility with all those different boost and gain modes available across the two pedals.


Final Thoughts and Recommendations

You probably know already how impressed I am by Jackson Audio - there are largely 5 pedal brands that typically dominate my rig - Boss, Chase Bliss Audio, Strymon, ThorpyFX and Jackson Audio. I like near enough everything those brands put out - and I definitely like everything that Jackson Audio has introduced at NAMM this year - all of these are shoo-ins for the board - albeit I will need to do some considerable tone-tests of the El Guapo versus my until now irreplaceable Brown Sound / JCM800 favourite - the MI Effects Super Crunch Box V2 - once your'e used to that Jackson Audio smart footswitch control you just can't go back really - all that practicality and versatility!

 

So yes the Modular Fuzz (possible 2 copies), the Golden Boy Overdrive and El Guapo Distortion will all be absorbed and deployed when they are officially released - and I am most definitely really looking forward to it.

 

You will probably know me as a big advocate for pedal innovation and what is being done with these devices nowadays is just incredible. I am so impressed with my favourite pedal of 2019 - the GFI Sytem Synesthesia that I have decided to wait it out for a pedal-chain Reverb replacement - for GFI to bring forth the V2 replacement to the Specular Tempus Delay + Reverb in the same hyper-intuitive format (with learning curve) as the Synesthesia.

 

Jackson Audio seems to have fallen under the radar for many players - but their innovations are equal to their tones. These are truly all great pedals which most will love - if you but give them a chance!

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Stefan Karlsson
Stefan Karlsson
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