The SunFace has long been my favourite fuzz pedal. The BC108 nails all those classic silicon tones and more. Recently, AnalogMan released the BC109 version â€“ a tribute to David Gilmourâ€™s Dark Side of the Moon tones. Hereâ€™s my review.
At the time when David Gilmour joined Pink Floyd, in early 1968, guitarists had only a very few pedals to choose from. The Fuzz Face was a staple in many setups and Gilmour, being inspired by Jimi Hendrix and continuing Sydâ€™s legacy, employed the germanium model alongside a wah and the Binson Echorec. By 1971, heâ€™d swapped the germanium for the silicon transistor Fuzz Face.
The SunFace BC109 is housed in a MXR-sized chassis with the familiar AnalogMan gold colouring and a nice Floyd-ish graphic (done with taste and not the obvious references). In addition to the usual volume and gain controls, the SunFace also feature an internal bias or gain trimmer, although you rarely need this for silicon circuits. The pedal feature true bypass switching but appropriately lack a led and power input. Vintage circuit fuzz pedals are best operated with carbon 9V batteries.
Fuzz pedals arenâ€™t for everybody. They can sound horrible on the wrong setup and it requires some time getting to know their nature and behaviour. In some cases, youâ€™re better off with a Big Muff or a much easier to use distortion, like the RAT or similar. However, a fuzz in its right element is perhaps one the most dynamic and versatile pedals you can place on a pedal board.
Compared to the BC108, thatâ€™s featured in most silicon transistor fuzz pedals, the BC109 has a bit more of everything. More gain and dirt, lower end and crunchy top. Some might find it hard to tame and a bit too noisy but after some time fiddling with the controls and the guitar volume, youâ€™ll recognize all the sweet harmonics and its rich character.
My favourite setting is the volume at about 75% and the gain at full, slightly rolled back to avoid those nasty oscillations. I also prefer pairing it up with a transparent booster, like the Colorsound Powerboost. Not necessarily for more gain but for a bit tighter lower end and a more focused and smoother top.
With the guitar volume at 10 youâ€™re right in the Pompeii/Dark Side territory. The SunFace is breathing fire and producing an insane sustain and that familiar saw-like fuzz. Rolling the guitar volume down to 8-9 rolls off the top and adds a bit of compression. Rolling down further to about 5-6 will produce a smooth and crisp overdrive dead on Davidâ€™s tones from Obscured by Clouds and songs like Childhoodâ€™s End, Mudmen etc.
If you prefer your fuzz nice and clean, then you might want to check out a germanium model or perhaps even a BC108. If youâ€™re up for taming a wild horse and get a breeze in your hair, then I highly recommend the SunFace BC109! Itâ€™s a stayer on my board! Check out AnalogMan.Com for more details.
The SunFace BC109 was tested on both a Laney Cub 15w stack and a Reeves Custom 50, using Stratocaster with a Seymour Duncan SSL5 bridge pickup.