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Cloud 9 Audio Analog Alien Fuzzbubble-45 Pedal Review

Cloud 9 Audio Analog Alien Fuzzbubble-45 Pedal Review

Two pedals in one: JIMI (fuzz channel) and PETE (overdrive channel)

Download Example 1
JIMI Fuzz with Strat
Download Example 2
JIMI Gritty with P-90s
Download Example 3
PETE Dirty with Les Paul
Clips Recorded into a Fender Concert II amp with a little spring reverb mic'd with a SM57 into a Chandler LTD-1 mic pre with no EQ. Apogee Symphony I/O into Pro Tools 9HD.

Hailing from a recording studio on

Long Island, New York, that bears

the same name, Cloud 9 is a relative newcomer

to the effects business. But there’s a

lot of practical experience behind the company’s

first pedal, the Analog Alien Fuzz

Bubble-45 (FB-45). A peek at Cloud 9

Recording’s website reveals a rather enviable

collection of gear, suggesting that Cloud 9’s

founders, Joe and Jack Napoli, have heard

a cool sound or two and grappled with the

challenges of recording great fuzz sounds.

The FB-45 may not solve every problem

involved in getting and managing a good

fuzz tone. And the concept—a dedicated

overdrive on one channel and a Fuzz Face

clone on another—isn’t revolutionary. But

the pedal offers a wealth of options that can

help you dial in many fuzz and overdrive

sounds on the fly, and that’s a boon to stage

and studio guitarists who need fast access to

multiple fuzz flavors.

Mission Control

The FB-45 is housed in a 5 3/4" x 4 3/4"

x 1 1/2" purple-sparkle box that you’re not

likely to miss on a cluttered pedalboard.

Because the FB-45 actually contains two

units, controls are color-coded to match

their respective effect—a simple but smart

touch. Things get clever when you notice

the overdrive section is named Pete (you

can guess at the inspiration) and the fuzz is

called Jimi (duh).

On the Pete side, you’ll find Out (output

level) and Year (distortion amount) controls.

The latter uses ’67 and ’77 as names

for its minimum and maximum settings.

There’s also a Tone toggle switch that helps

you tame low frequencies.

The Jimi channel features three purple

knobs—In (which controls the input level

from the guitar), Out (output level), and

Haze (fuzz intensity). The Jimi section

also has its own Tone toggle switch, which

works just like the one in the Pete section.

On the bottom left is a Bypass stomp

switch followed by an Effect selector stomp

switch on the right.

Many Shades of Oomph!

I decided to begin auditioning Fuzz Bubble

with the Pete section. So I set the Out control

to noon, the Year to ’67 and put the Fuzz

Bubble between a Hamer Korina Special

with Lollar P-90s and a HipKitty Panetone

set for a chiming clean tone. With the FB-45

engaged, the overdrive was light, but contributed

a little more grit and bite to the already

cutting P-90 tone. With a bit more push of

the Year knob, I was able to pull out some

pretty mighty Page and Townsend tones—

beautiful for chords or leads. With the Out

knob at 2 o’clock, I found a great sweet spot

that had power chords barking and hitting

hard with attitude, grit, and clarity. This is

a great overdrive. Cranking up the Out and

Year to max yielded wailing lead tones, and

switching the Tone toggle thinned the tone

slightly, but actually tightened up the bottom

end. It’s a trade-off that works better with

humbuckers than single-coils.

With my stock 1974 Les Paul Custom,

there was quite a bit more gain available

and the Tone switch’s effectiveness in

removing mud became apparent. I ended

up backing down the Out and Year controls

a little more to compensate for the

humbuckers’ hot signal. Keen to hear how

the FB-45 would work with other amps,

I pulled out a Rivera-era Fender Concert

II 2x10 combo and set it up slightly dirty.

With the same Les Paul and the Fuzz

Bubble’s Pete channel engaged, the tone was

gargantuan and made plain how much late-

’60s and ’70s color the Fuzz Bubble overdrive

can lend. Tweaking the knobs got me

everything from convincing early Boogie

sounds to Marshall-like tones.

The Jimi channel is definitely reminiscent

of a Fuzz Face, but with additional

flexibility. The biggest difference is how

the In control—which effectively strangles

the signal strength driving the fuzz—works

with the Haze control to produce everything

from nasty, spitting fuzz to super

overdrive. Using a combination of Fender

Strat and Concert II with the Fuzz Bubble

in the middle, it was easy to conjure up

some sweet “Voodoo Child”-like sounds,

which had me fixated for about an hour as

I tweaked the settings. Going to the neck

pickup and slightly rolling off the guitar’s

tone control gave me a massive, thick, violin

tone. And even with the tone down, the

clarity was intact and sustain off the charts.

Notes soared and sang effortlessly and endlessly

as they transitioned into harmonic

feedback. The Strat was a real winner in

this combination.

Moving back to the Les Paul I spent time

with the Tone switch engaged, cutting out

some of the low end. In this setup, I experimented

with the Haze knob and found a lot

of shades of fuzz that went from downright

rude to more pleasant, softened, almost

compressed and slightly darker overdrive.

Delivering a smooth texture that retained

note definition while still sounding like a

fuzz, this setting was probably my favorite.

Since the Fuzz Bubble is capable of

merging its split personalities, I went back

and set it up so both Pete and Jimi were at

similar volumes. It’s incredibly cool how

moving from clean to crunch to lead was

always just a stomp away. Stomping on the

Pete channel for rhythm and the Jimi side

for leads is an obvious and very cool application.

But the real magic lies in shifting

back and forth between them to generate a

wide range of moods and textures over the

course of a song or two.

The Verdict

I really enjoyed the Fuzz Bubble from both

an engineering and performance perspective.

As the first pedal from a new company,

it’s impressive, and it’s clear that the Fuzz

Bubble benefits from being developed

under a sonic microscope. But it’s the combination

of the overdrive and a character-rich

and very manageable fuzz that creates

a 1-2 punch worth much more than the

admission price!

Buy if...
you want a versatile, dual overdrive/ fuzz pedal with modern features.
Skip if...
two knobs are all you need for your overdrive, or your pedalboard is already full.

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