Many guitarists has a love/hate relationship with fuzz pedals. On the right setup, itâ€™s magic. On the wrong it can be very frustrating. The problem is often that fuzz pedals simply sounds too fuzzy. Caroline Guitar Company decided to create a different kind of fuzz. Hereâ€™s my review of the Olympia.
Iâ€™ve always been a huge fuzz fan. Never really been a collector but Iâ€™ve employed many great sounding clones over the years. Sometimes for recreating familiar tones but also for something very different, strange and unusual sounding. Although a simple circuit, the fuzz pedal is capable of producing a wide range of tones. Sometimes even some quite unexpected ones!
The Olympia is housed in a eye-catching blue MXR-sized chassis with true bypass switching, a stage-ready led and it runs on either 9V battery or adapter. Typical of the fuzz, the tone is manipulated by two controls, tone and volume.
Plugging your guitar into the Olympia, it soon becomes evident that this is indeed something different. Although a distinct silicon transistor fuzz character, itâ€™s got much more gain on tap and an overall more saturated tone compared to most other models. This places the Olympia somewhere between a late 60s Tone Bender and the early 70s ramâ€™s head Big Muff. The second thing youâ€™ll notice â€“ or perhaps the first â€“ is that the pedal is dead silent. Even with the gain at full blast. This is rare even for the most carefully designed Big Muff. Quite impressive!
Fuzz pedals can often sound bright and harsh with single coils but even with low output 50s and 60s era pickups, the Olympia has enough lower end and mid range to produce fat, creamy fuzz. Pairing it up with hotter pickups, like P90s or some humbuckers, will produce Sabbath and QotSA tones with thunderous Muff-ish bottom and a crackling saw-like top. Unlike BC silicon fuzz, which can be quite hard to tame on high amp levels, the Olympia responds to your playing and allow you to control its feedback. Make no mistake though. This pedal is loud and wild!
The Olympia has a wide range of tones, from dark overdrive to screaming fuzz. My favourite setting is the volume at 75% and the fuzz maxed out. This works equally well on loud tube stacks as on the more neighbour friendly setup, which makes the Olympia an excellent choice for your bedroom amp and low volume levels.
If youâ€™re a purist and need your fuzz to be nasty and hairy, then check out some of the models listed in the Buyerâ€™s Gear Guide. If youâ€™re looking for classic fuzz tones but need something a bit more versatile or bedroom friendly, then look no further. The Olympia delivers and gets my warmest recommendation. Check out carolineguitar.com for more details and ordering info.
The Olympia was tested on both a Laney Cub 15w stack and a Reeves Custom 50, using Stratocasters with a Seymour Duncan SSL5 bridge pickup and EMG DG20s.