My first encounter with Markus’s Reeves Electro Pedals was courtesy of Brian Wampler’s Instagram repost on May 4th last year. This is a great example of serendipity where legions of fuzz fans were introduced to something genuinely new and innovative by a leading taste-maker.
Brian’s Insta-share was of the immaculate point-to-point interior wiring of a 2N2FACE Fuzz - Markus’s take on the Silicon Fuzz Face - utilising 2n2222a Transistors. This is a rare occasion where the insides of the pedal look even more fantastic than the exterior. In fact so elegant is the build technique deployed here that this ushers in am entirely new category really - of the ’Art Pedal’. Exactly one month after encountering the pedal - I included it in my piece on ’The Inner Beauty of Pedal Design!’.
For my recently arrived BlackHatSound Fuzz the applications of Art and Artisan are manifold - and include the textured Art Nouveau style enclosure - acid etched and chemically treated for texture and patination. And as mentioned - however elegant the pedal’s exterior looks - it’s the insides which provide the best views.
Markus has long-term been inspired by German Artist Peter Vogel (1937-2017) whose Interactive Electronic Sculptures and Sound Artefacts / ’Klangobjekte’ pioneered the artistry of point-to-point wiring together electronic components into interesting geometric constructs. Most of Peter’s works were active sound generating artworks - encompassing a variety of input sensors and often wired to one or more speakers as is the case with the ’Tempowechsel’ installation example as pictured below :
Peter held a retrospective exhibition in Brighton back in October of 2011 - 'Peter Vogel : The Sound of Shadows' - it is likely this was a significantly formative event for Markus.
Just to backtrack on Markus's history a little - he had actually been dabbling in pedal builds for around two decades now - making pedals for friends and family. He was formerly a Travel Industry Professional, but the recent Covid-19 Pandemic really put paid to those ambitions and somewhat freed up his schedule as such - where he now concentrates full time on the Reeves Electro enterprise.
Thus far I've somewhat concentrated on the visual aspects of the pedal, while the sonic and tonal ability is just as impressive. The direct point-to-point wiring makes for a highly connective experience which yields more signal strength, volume and dynamics by its very nature- and delivers fantastic 'under the fingers' responsive feel. The BlackHatSound is in effect an enhanced treatment of Markus's 183Sound pedal which in turn is a take on Colorsound's One-Knob Fuzz Box as far as I understand. It's tonality is somewhat adjacent to a Tone Bender MKI - slightly darker though and with more gain and aggression as such - but still absolutely fantastic for those Mick 'Ronno' Ronson style tones.
Whereas the 183Sound is exactly a one-knob wonder - which utilises a phenolic fibreboard tag-board construction, and somewhat more commonly available BC183L and BC108 Transistors. While the BlackHatSound variation is entirely that beautiful point-to-point writing, and utilises rare TO106 TUN ‘Blackhat’ Transistors. It also adds an external Bias control, and a Bass Boost toggle-switch both of which really add to the experience.
I had meant to get one of these much earlier on, but I was kind of stuck in the quandary as to whether I should go for Copper or Sea Foam Green interior - and whether I really needed the additional Power Filter / Conditioner. As it was Markus kind of sharpened my resolve at the beginning of November last year - when he announced he had only enough Transistors left to make another 20 or so units. I of course had to get my skates on pronto and I came down hugely in favour of the Copper interior - which final example surely proves was the right choice. Initially I ordered the pedal without the Power Filter - but noticed via Instagram that several prospective owners were inquiring about adding the Power Filter - so I did that too as a follow-up.
Markus essentially has 3 core varieties of Point-to-Point Wired pedals, actually 4 if you include the latterly added BlackHandSound Professional - which adds in a couple of extra controls, but is too larger for my own preferences. The other core varieties are the 2N2FACE Fuzz Face, and 108MASTER RangeMaster style Treble Booster.
I really don't need another Fuzz Face - but might consider if Markus ever decides to add an external Bias - while I am generally fairly likely to go for a 108MASTER too at some stage in the future - of course with Cooper insides too!
For my pedal the turnaround was circa 10 weeks which is pretty great as far as I'm concerned as Markus's pedals are in high demand nowadays. In fact Markus has just recently announced that he has switched entirely to batch production - which means relatively sort runs of 10 and 20 pedals - and first-come-first-serve - vs the longer waiting lists of the past. I'm fine with all that either way, and just delighted that I managed to get my hands on the rare BlacHatSounds variety before it all sold out.
We all of course look forward to see what Markus does next - where I'm of course more excited about compact editions / possibly BB-style at a stretch - where readers know that I really don't like unnecessarily large enclosures!
Obviously the BlackHatSound varieties are now sold out, but here is a brief overview of the pricing structure :
183Sound - £159, 108MASTER - £225, 2N2FACE - £235, BlackHatSound - £239, BlackHatSound Professional - £400, Custom Internal Colour - £25, Power Filter - £25
Of course Reeves Electro put in a couple of famous appearances on That Pedal Show - on 17th July, and 7th August 2020 :