I recently did a review of Buffalo FXâ€™s Ramâ€™s Head â€“ a take on the mid 70s Big Muff with a few very successful tweaks. Since then, Buffalo FX has released the Germanium Fuzz, CVIII Silicon Fuzz and the Power Booster. Hereâ€™s my review of all three.
With the Ramâ€™s Head (see the review here) Buffalo tackled a common problem with the early 70s Big Muff circuit. The classic mids scoop sounds great but it has a nasty tendency to drown in a dense band mix. This is also an issue concerning the old fuzz pedals and once again, Buffaloâ€™s approach is to maintain the true nature of the pedal, with a few minor tweaks for making them more versatile.
Each pedal is housed in a MXR sized die cast chassis. Theyâ€™re about twice as high though, which can look rather strange but youâ€™ll be thankful for the easy access battery compartment on these fuzz pedals (you run your fuzz on batteries, donâ€™t you???). Each pedal is hand assembled, with carefully selected transistors, true bypass switching and a stage ready led.
The Germanium Fuzz features the usual gain and volume controls as well as a pre-gain and bias control. The pre gain allows you to add a bit more dirt and compression. Counterclockwise takes the pedal into mild overdrive territory, while rolling it all the way up, adds a nice gain boost.
Germanium transistors are sensitive to humidity and temperature changes and the bias control make it possible to finely tune the character of the pedal. You can also dial in some extreme settings, from spitting dying battery to bursting speakers with tons of compression.
Iâ€™ve never really been a germanium fuzz kind of guy. I donâ€™t know why but theyâ€™ve never really fitted my setup. However, the Buffalo Germanium Fuzz doesnâ€™t really sound like anything Iâ€™ve ever played before. Itâ€™s a fairly mild and dark sounding fuzz but warm, creamy and super smooth. Itâ€™s almost impossible to dial in any harsh tones with this one.
Depending on how hot your pickups are, the pedal cleans up extremely well. Roll the guitar volume down to 8 for dark overdrive or all the way to 5 for crystal cleans with a nice bite. The Germanium Fuzz works nicely with UniVibes and is an excellent alternative for smaller bedroom setups. Hendrix in a box? Look no further!
Silicon fuzz pedals can sound like anything from a harsh ice pick to smooth distortion, almost Muff-ish. I prefer them as wild sounding as possible. You canâ€™t really beat the feeling of stomping a pedal that sounds like a raving mad horse!
Like the germanium, the CVIII is on the lighter side. In my opinion it doesnâ€™t really come alive without a booster but it depends on what tones you want. In the featured clip you hear the pedal alone so itâ€™s fully capable of producing the classic tones. In addition to the gain and volume controls, the pedal also features a Shape control. Itâ€™s basically a low-cut filter allowing you to sculpt the tone for a band mix. Rolling it all the way up also makes this one of the best silicons for your small amp bedroom setups, with a fat creamy tone.
Compared to the Dunlop JH-F1 or the AnalogMan SunFace BC108, the CVIII might come off as a well behaved cousin. Itâ€™s not nearly as loud or wild but a more band and studio friendly model. It offers something different and perhaps more suiting for a wider range of pickups and amps than most silicons on the market.
Being a huge fan of the old Colorsound Powerboost I was especially interested in this one. Iâ€™ve been using the ThroBak Overdrive Boost for quite sometime, as my old CPB is retired from live use, and I havenâ€™t found another clone that even comes closeâ€¦ until now.
Buffalo Power Booster feature controls for gain, volume, bass and treble and, like the original Colorsound, it runs on 18V for maximum headroom (powered by 9V adapter, and switched internally to 18V). While some of the CPB clones tend to sound a bit thin and harsh when you crank them, running on 18V makes all the difference. It sounds bigger, more dynamic and the break up is right in that tube amp territory. With the gain control, sweep through crystal clean transparent boost, warm and creamy overdrive and full blast fuzz.
This is a pedal you want to leave on all the time. Either for just adding life to your amp or as a dedicated overdrive or, for boosting your fuzz and Muff. The treble and bass controls allows you shape your tones much like an EQ but, in my opinion, in a much more effective and natural way than actually using an EQ. The gain and volume controls also act as a pre-amp for your amp â€“ especially in combo with a tube amp.
You really canâ€™t get any closer to Davidâ€™s rhythms on Time, Cigar, Shine On and Pigs than this. In fact, I already love this pedal so much that it bumped the ThroBak right off my stage boardâ€¦ who would have thought that?
There are good sounding pedals and there are pedals that you donâ€™t want to turn off. This trinity from Buffalo definitely falls into the latter. Love â€˜em! However, despite my overly enthusiastic rant you should be aware that these old circuit pedals arenâ€™t for everybody. Both fuzz pedals and the Power Booster can sound horrible on the wrong setup and although theyâ€™re versatile within their range they have obvious limitations.
A big applause to Buffalo and Iâ€™m looking forward to what they may come up with in the futureâ€¦ a clone of a certain Mistress for their Ramâ€™s Head and Power Booster perhaps? I expect no less! Check out buffalo-fx.com for more details.