A clone of the rare Ampeg Scrambler

Download Example 1
Blend at noon, Fender Twin Reverb Combo
Download Example 2
Blend maxed, Marshall JCM800 combo, slightly driven
Clips recorded with a 1978 Gibson Les Paul Custom
Scrambled, Please
If you’re a fuzz junkie, you’ve probably spent a minute or two lusting after an Ampeg Scrambler. Ampeg introduced this now revered and infamous unit in 1969. But while such players as Cactus’ Jim McCarty and Jorma Kaukonen of the Jefferson Airplane embraced the Scrambler, Ampeg discontinued it after producing only a few thousand units. These days, original models in working condition can fetch over $1000, making the Scrambler one of the rarest and most sought-after effects in existence.

In light of this, clones have been popping up to make the octave-fuzz sounds of the Scrambler more attainable and affordable, among them the Creepy Fingers Effects’ Pink Elephant. Creepy Fingers is run by Brad Davis, bassist for the California stoner-rock outfit, Fu Manchu, who are no strangers to great fuzz tones. And he does a fantastic job of accurately replicating the chaotic tonal nature of the vintage Scrambler design.

Looks that Kill
I knew I was in for a treat as soon as I slipped the Pink Elephant out of its protective canvas bag. The pink sparkle paint job is an eyeful, and it’s cleverly complemented by a bright pink LED that will eliminate any doubt about which pedal in your arsenal you’ve kicked on. The Pink Elephant also feels rock solid, and the combination of smooth 24 mm alpha pots, sturdy battery snap, true bypass switch, and overall quality construction also suggests that the Pink Elephant is a piece of gear that can put up with being knocked around a bit.

The original Scrambler has two knobs—Texture and Blend—which respectively control the octave-up level and balance the straight and effected signals. The Pink Elephant goes a step further by adding a Volume control, which Davis notes can be used to set up the pedal for a clean boost.

Radical and Versatile Octave Tones
I tested the Pink Elephant with a 2006 Fender American Telecaster running into a Friedman Naked 100-watt head and a 20th Anniversary Bogner 2x12 cabinet. With the Pink Elephant’s Blend control at noon and the Texture control at 7 o’clock, the pedal packed a potent punch—heavy in the midrange with a discernible, but not overbearing octave-up presence in the high end. Turning the Texture knob up increased the amount of the octave-up signal and injected the high and upper-mid frequencies with a raspy snarl.

By flipping to the Telecaster’s neck pickup and rolling off its tone knob, I was able to highlight the octave-up circuit’s capacity for thickening tone and increasing sustain—an effect that was enhanced by dialing in a little amp gain.

The Pink Elephant’s sound is very much an acquired taste. The original Scrambler was known for being a very unruly pedal at times, and like the Scrambler, the Pink Elephant is capable of some truly otherworldly octave fuzz tones. But while it offers unusual and unconventional sounds, you get the welcome ability to control the pedal’s output level, and this goes a long way toward taming the beast.

The Verdict
In capturing the essence and attitude of the original Ampeg Scrambler, Davis and Creepy Fingers hit a home run with the Pink Elephant. While you can dial in some very creamy and full fuzz tones with crafty use of your guitar’s tone knob, the Elephant also tends toward more confrontational sounds, just like the original Scrambler. The Pink Elephant’s biting, ’60s-style textures probably won’t be every player’s cup of tea, but using the newly added Volume knob, you can dial back the Pink Elephant’s most abrasive tendencies, making the pedal a truly versatile update on a classic design.

Playing through the Pink Elephant, I heard all the vintage grind and jagged edges of the original Scrambler sound, yet this came with the added benefit of true bypass switching and a low noise floor. Indeed, all but the most obsessive seekers of the elusive vintage Scrambler pedal may be able to call off the search—the Pink Elephant has arrived.

Buy if...
you’re after that vintage Ampeg Scrambler sound, or are in need of a distinctive octave fuzz.
Skip if...
you need a more versatile, conventional-sounding fuzz pedal.

Street $200 - Creepy Fingers Effects - myspace.com/creepyfingerseffects

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