We bassists are lucky to live in an era when bass-specific fuzz pedals are plentiful. Yet for decades, the industry bass-fuzz standard has been the Big Muff. Stomp Under Foot’s Matt Pasquerella wanted to do something different, so he created with the handmade Rhinosaur.
The Rhinosaur circuit is inspired by the Colorsound Bass Fuzz, a pedal known for maintaining low end and packing a punch. Like the original, the pedal employs BC549C transistors. But unlike the big, bulky Colorsound, the Rhinosaur resides in a compact 2.5" x 5" box. The pedal feels rugged, is adorned with slick graphics, and has a simple control layout: a trio of knobs for level, tone, and fuzz.
Deep and Dirty
Placing the pedal between a passive Fender Deluxe P and an Ampeg SVT, I started out with the tone, level, and fuzz knobs at noon. From my first finger strike at the 4th string’s 7th fret, I felt an immense amount of air from my cabinet. As advertised, the low-end thickness held, merging tenaciously with the cutting fuzz sound. The midrange attack—especially on the 2nd and 3rd strings between the 5th and 12th frets—came through with excellent density, while each note maintained solid resonance. The high end of the 1st string was tremendously clear in a grinding fashion, becoming pleasantly ear-piercing as I climbed the neck.
Keeping the level and tone at noon and pushing the fuzz to about 3 o’clock, the distortion increased intensely but held its form without cracking or generating a blown-speaker timbre. The raw force of the fuzz and the huge body of the low end made everything I played in the lower registers—no matter how simplistic—sound powerful.
Thinning can occur when using a pick with fuzz or distortion pedals, but when I pulled out a plectrum, the tone held true. Striking the strings with a choppy technique created a unique sound bordering on analog-synth terrain. Alternating picking in the mid-to-high registers made my whole amp scream.
To check out the Rhinosaur’s subtler side, I rolled back the level, tone, and fuzz to around 9 o’clock for low-gain distortion suitable for rock/indie music. Instead of creating an icing layer on top of the clean tone, the fuzz permeated the entire signal. There was just enough clean tone to feel round, but with enough grit to add interesting crunch. This setting was especially pleasing while working steady eighth-note runs with a pick.
Since the Rhinosaur is a fuzz pedal (and I was fully warmed up and ready to attempt some jump kicks), I tested the pedal at full throttle. I unlocked the fuzz banshee by cranking the level to 2 o’clock, the tone to 3 o’clock, and the fuzz to full tilt. The result was an über-drenched tone that still maintained impressive clarity. Higher notes merged slightly and the mids began to sound somewhat snythy, but overall, the pedal held and the lows boomed as much as ever.
Sure, you can get nasty fuzz tone from many of today’s bass-fuzz pedals, but the Rhinosaur maintains lows in ways that really stand out. The highs and mids cut nicely with good note independence. The design is user-friendly, and the pedal comes in a compact enclosure. Whether you’re a boutique purist seeking vintage fuzz or simply someone searching for a sturdy pedal that packs serious heat, the Rhinosaur just might be your dinosaur.