Freekish Blues is a new name on the pedal scene that’s busting out of the gate in turbo mode with an initial offering of three pedals. As is common in the boutique world, Freekish is a small operation consisting of two people who are taking care of every facet of the business, from developing, designing and constructing to selling and marketing their products. In the Dec. 2009 issue of PG, there was a mention of the Betty Boost pedal in the Dweezil Zappa interview. Knowing Dweezil is a tone connoisseur, I was curious to see just what these guys were up to. Marrying vintage designs with unique twists and tongue-in-cheek humor, Freekish Blues pedals come off as refreshing and fun on the outside. Let’s jump right into each of the three pedals and see how they fare and what they offer up.
||Download Example 1
|Recorded through a 2008 Fender American Strat. Amp – Wallace Abaddon. Speaker – Krank 1x12 with 70’s Celestion 25 watt tan back. Recorded into Pro Tools with Chandler LTD-1 mic pre with SM57 off-axis. Small amount of Altiverb room ambience.
The Coily Fuzz is based on a late-‘60s fuzz (think Arbiter Fuzz Face) with a different voicing. The pedal I received for review was a pre-release version, since the cosmetics were still getting the final touches. It was handpainted with stickered graphics and no labeling for the controls. The fact that there were no instructions, just a brief description of the pedal’s basic function, made it an adventure without any hype, and that encouraged a lot of knob fiddling and play. Refreshing. The final version of the pedal sports purple-ish lettering and a graphic of a laughing, bearded “Freek” with shades and a hat. The two controls are labeled simply “Midnight Lamp” and “Electric Ladyland.” More on those in a moment.
Opening up the pedal revealed a small circuit board and a clean layout, as well as black marker ink covering up all of the values of the components. While this is something that in the past has been a bit irksome, I can’t blame anyone for wanting to protect their creation, especially at a time when so many pedal makers and DIY’ers would certainly love to see what’s going on inside. A bonus is the 9-volt battery compartment on the back of the pedal that flips open to allow immediate access to the battery without requiring a screwdriver. Thank you for that! Rounding out the pedal is a 9-volt adapter jack and a hardwired true-bypass stomp switch.
The Coily Fuzz was begging me to plug in my Strat and give it a whirl, so that’s just what I did. Setting my amp to a generic clean tone, I dimed the controls on the Coily just to hear the most extreme side of the spectrum. To my surprise, when it kicked in it didn’t have nearly the amount of noise I expected. Tonally, it harkened back to the late ‘60s, but it definitely had more bark. Of course, in this setting there was both a wallop of gain and fuzz getting angry and snarling—in a good way. Because the boost was quite extreme, I backed off the Midnight Lamp (volume) control, which brought the volume down to a more reasonable level and let me begin to hear the subtleties of the pedal. After a good amount of time fiddling with the Midnight Lamp and Electric Ladyland (fuzz) controls, I was able to conjure up striking, Hendrix-like tones and go all the way to “Spirit in the Sky”-like broken fuzz sounds. The Coily had everything I like in pedals of that era, but with more thickness and bite at the same time. Those aren’t usually things that go together, but in this case they do, and they do so very well. Recording a few tracks, I was able to jump right out of the mix without additional EQ, which is pretty remarkable considering how much gain was going on these things tend to get lost fairly easily. In addition, it played nice with my guitar’s volume control, cleaning up to a respectable level and still letting all the goodness of the guitar and amp through. Nice.
groovy fuzz is your aim.
you’re thinking, “Fuzz? I don’t need no stinking fuzz!”