The Fuzz Bear from Blackout Effectors is a brand spankin' new fuzz from our friends in North Carolina. What's in a name? Well, my friends, Bears appears tame, but cross it, and it will maul your signal within inches of its life.
The heart of the circuit is a Tone Bender MkII, and it is certainly capable of delivering tones of that nature. One of the suggested settings is setting every knob to noon and letting ‘er rip. And if that's what you want, great! However, we all know you're not checking this out for standard fuzz tones, and if it's atypical fuzz you want, the Bear has it in spades.
Unlike a Tone Bender, five knobs adorn the face of the Fuzz Bear—Range, Bias, Sag, Fuzz and Level. Level and Fuzz are pretty self-explanatory, so I'll leave you with this: the Bear has an extremely loud roar; that is, the pedal has tons of volume on tap, more than you could ever want. For this reason, the Level control is great at completely saturating the next pedal in the chain, if you're the dirt stacking type.
The three remaining knobs—all on the top row—are Range, Bias and Sag. These are the Bear's roar, teeth and claws. The Range control is arguably the most important one, as it serves several functions. At some settings, the Range knob set fully counter-clockwise allows for maximum signal to reach the transistors, allowing for some truly gnarly fuzz tones. The middle of the dial is the Bear at its tamest, while more clockwise settings lean the tone out and make it really nasty.
The Sag control determines how much juice you want reaching the transistors. When the control is set counter-clockwise, the circuit receives the standard nine volts. Turning the knob reduces the voltage and changes the character of the fuzz. This knob is highly interactive with the others, and the sound varies with even a slight turn. It's the salt of the pedal; apply with caution.
If Sag wasn't enough voltage-dropping goodness for you, try the Bias control—it offers a fine tuning of the voltage adjustment. In this regard, it gates the signal pretty heavily in more extreme settings. Turning it clockwise enhances the effect.
When asked nicely, the Fuzz Bear goes from a great traditional fuzz to a foam-mouthed snarling and spitting noise beast. Nothing is safe from its path of wanton destruction. That said, the pedal is highly customizable to your axe and pickup type.
The Blackout Effectors Fuzz Bear is hand-made, one at a time, in North Carolina. It is wired for true bypass and accepts a standard 9v Boss-style center-negative power adapter. The manual suggests using a power supply rated for at least 50 milliamps, so it is isolated power supply ready.
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