Disgruntled with the soaring price of vintage gear and in need of pedals that could survive the rigors of the road, Johnny Wator began making his own effects to use on tour with his band, the Last Vegas. Now Wator’s Daredevil Effects offers a well-rounded selection of hand-wired stompboxes, from the cocked-wah sounds of the Atomic Cock to circuits inspired by the Rangemaster, Fuzz Face, and Sovtek Big Muff.
One of Wator’s newest pieces is the L.S.D. (Logan Square Destroyer), which is inspired on the classic Mosrite Fuzzrite, but with more modern, wall-of-sound authority. As on many ’60s-style fuzzes, the L.S.D.’s sole controls are level and gain. A look under the hood reveals a small 1½" circuit board with relatively few components. This is a very simple fuzz.
Evil Knievel in a Box My inclination with most vintage-style fuzzes is to max the gain and then set an appropriate amp sound. That’s how many ’60s and ’70s legends ran their dirtboxes, using their guitar’s volume controls to vary the amount of gain.
With a Stratocaster and Orange OR50, you definitely get a sense of all the gain this pedal has on tap. The simplest lines roar with volcanic sustain, hanging on the precipice of feedback—perfect for monstrous, nodding stoner riffs or desert rock leads. The LSD is also very quiet, which is helpful if you rely on single-coils.
The L.S.D. is very responsive to guitar volume adjustments—a Stratocaster and Jaguar delivered mellow overdrive when I pulled the volume pots down a touch. Working your volume control is definitely the way to get the most from this type of fuzz, and the L.S.D. lets you can span a very wide gain spectrum without considerable loss of output.
Yellow Brick Road Rolling back the L.S.D.’s gain control restores some of the midrange lost at higher gain settings. If you’re not inclined to use your guitar’s volume control and just want to hit the L.S.D. for a vicious, snarling lead tone, these are great default settings. With gain around 2 o’clock, for instance, you’ll hear a hint of garage-y Tone Bender sounds, though the L.S.D. won’t quite match the a vintage Tone Bender’s paint-peeling capacity.
Despite having just two knobs, the L.S.D. has a wide range. Part of that versatility comes from the interactive nature of the controls. Killing the gain, for example, requires you to raise the level a touch for robust volume, but you get a cool and useful dying-battery sag.
A Les Paul with humbuckers positively shined with both the Orange and a Twin Reverb, generating numerous classic rock flavors. With the Fender amp in particular, the L.S.D. did a superb job mimicking Dan Auerbach’s fuzzy minimalism from Rubber Factory’s “Girl is on My Mind.”
The Verdict The L.S.D. is a versatile take on a classic fuzz circuit. Like most Daredevil Effects, the L.S.D. will only set you back $120, an excellent price for a hand-wired piece of this quality, but a doubly nice deal considering how deftly is executes classic fuzz tones with the extra gain of a modern fuzz. Keep in mind that patience is a virtue here—the interactive controls demand a bit of trial and error to find the best tones for your rig. But make no mistake: They’re there for the taking.