A wild-looking fuzz/wah for aggressive rockers.
Whoa! Someone’s having a little too much fun here.
Start with the nine-word product name: Dr. No Road Runner Octave Fuzz Wah Flying Machina. Then there’s the enclosure: peach-fuzz flocked in loud blue and red. And the rubber treadle pad, embossed with a lurid three-color design. And the pièce de résistance: rubber Hermes-style side-wings. (The control labels and product notes cleverly inscribed on the wah’s bottom plate include a warning: “This device actually flies … cannot be held responsible for physical damage like broken bones just because you can’t fly the damn thing.”) Color me amused.
Dutch boutique brand Dr. No created this outrageous contraption with and for David Catching, the Eagles of Death Metal guitarist and owner of Rancho de La Luna, a famed recording studio in California’s Mojave Desert. Beneath Machina’s hilarious cosmetics lies a straightforward octave fuzz/wah effect with a few cool twists.
You Shall Not Pass!
I can’t tell you what’s inside the Flying Machina because I couldn’t open it. Perhaps it’s been deliberately battened down for secrecy’s sake. The pedal has no battery option—you must use a 9V power supply. So there’s no reason to remove the plate unless you’re a stompbox busybody.
Dr. No describes the octave-fuzz circuit as an “old school” Octavia. The original Tycobrahe Octavia employed three silicon transistors plus a transformer and a pair of clipping diodes. There are two knobs: boost (distortion amount) and volume. The Machina adds two popular Octavia mods: an octave on/off switch (it bypasses the octave-generating transformer for a conventional fuzz sound) and what sounds like an input-trim control. (At any rate, dialing it back yields the same result as rolling back your guitar’s volume knob.) While you can switch the octave effect on and off, fuzz and wah are always active—you can’t use either alone or invert the effect order.
The wah portion boasts switchable frequency ranges. The mildest setting is comparable to the sweep of a ’60s-style wah, goosing frequencies from around 400 Hz to 1.8 kHz. Two brighter settings boost frequencies from about 600 Hz to 2.1 kHz, and from approximately 800 Hz to 2.4 kHz. If those numbers mean nothing to you, think of them as “regular bright,” “extra-bright,” and “incinerate.” The filtering effect comes on slowly in the lower half of the pedal’s range. Intensity increases and accelerates in the upper range. You’ll probably get the hang of the sweep after a few minutes of playing. The brighter settings can seem harsh in isolation, but they could be perfect for blasting through heavy riffage in a multi-guitar band. They bite, in the better sense of the word.
Octave-fuzz will forever be associated with Hendrix. (Jimi didn’t use a Tycobrahe, but his Roger Mayer octave fuzz was quite similar.) Bear in mind that this octave sound is far subtler than that from later octave fuzzes such as the Foxx Tone Machine (and Tone Machine spinoffs such as the Prescription Experience and Fulltone Ultimate Octave pedals), and nothing like the digitally generated octaves of, say, a DigiTech Whammy pedal. The octave sound is most prominent when playing single notes above the 12th fret while using your neck pickup. (Many modern Octavia fans care less about the unreliable octave than about the harmonic anarchy that can occur when you throw the circuit a curve by, say, lowering your guitar volume or playing chords.)
Typically, Octavias aren’t very loud, providing little to no volume boost when engaged. And while many Machina wah tones cut like a hot knife through soft brains, the overall level doesn’t increase, even with everything floored—so you’d need a downstream booster for a louder solo level. Octavias don’t tend to clean up much when you roll back your guitar’s volume—the fuzz just gets less intense. Octavia-style fuzz minus the octave can also sound a bit bland, but when paired with the wicked wah in the Flying Machina, it can do serious damage.
Loogie Oogie Oogie
Some guitarists love the suave, understated response of early wahs like the Clyde McCoy. Those players probably shouldn’t be in the same room as the Machina—maybe not even on the same continent.
The filtering here is angry and over-the-top. Paired with the always-on fuzz, the wah sweeps evoke decrepit analog synth filters, rutting pigs, and the scraping sound in the back of your throat when you hock a loogie. Pretty, it ain’t—but it could be perfect for heavy, dissonant, and aggressive rock.
Dr. No’s Flying Machina combines two classic circuits for bold, sometimes brutalizing, results. It’s fun as hell, even when you’re not savoring the cockamamie cosmetics. But there are potential issues, like no independent use of wah and fuzz, no fuzz volume boost, and a near-total absence of sonic subtlety.
The biggest hurdle may be the price ($366 by current exchange rates, though worldwide shipping is free). For that kind of cash, you can get a great Octavia clone and a fine multi-range wah and still have at least a Benjamin in your wallet. The high price tag is surely due to the decoration. (Have you checked the production cost of custom-made rubber wah-wah wings lately?) But for the well-heeled aggro-rocker who values a bold visual stage presence, this could be the ticket. Put your tray tables in the upright locked position and enjoy your flight.
Watch the Review Demo:
Looking for more great gear for the guitar player in your life (yourself included!)? Check out this year's Holiday Gear Finds!
D'Addario XPND Pedalboard
DR-05X Stereo Handheld Recorder
Wampler Pedals Ratsbane
Created in collaboration with legendary guitarist George Lynch of Dokken and Lynch Mob fame, the Mr.Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage and an onboard Deep control, which together are designed to enable an amp to have increased sustain while still retaining note definition and dynamics.
LegendaryTones, LLC today announced production availability of its new Mr. Scary Mod, a 100% pure tube module designed to instantly and easily expand the capabilities of many classic amplifiers with additional gain and tone shaping. Created in collaboration with legendary guitarist George Lynch of Dokken and Lynch Mob fame, the Mr.Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage and an onboard Deep control, which together are designed to enable an amp to have increased sustain while still retaining note definition and dynamics.
Originally released as the Lynch Mod in February 2021, the updated Mr. Scary Mod features the same core circuit as the Lynch Mod but is now equipped with a revised tube mix combo per George’s preference as well as a facelift in a newly redesigned electro-galvanized steel enclosure. As with the Lynch Mod, each run will be limited and the first run in Pumpkin Orange with Black hardware is limited to just 150 pieces worldwide.
The Mr. Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage on top of the cathode follower position, keeping note definition and articulation while further increasing sustain. Each Mr. Scary mod is meticulously built by hand in the USA, one at a time, and tuned using high-grade components. Equipped with a single ECC81 (12AT7) in the first position and ECC83 (12AX7) in the second, the Mr. Scary Mod can clean up beautifully when rolling down your guitar’s volume, and still adds scorching gain when you roll it back up. This is a gain stage that’s been tuned and approved by the ears of the maestro George Lynch himself.
“The Mr. Scary Mod excels with dynamics and is incredibly touch-responsive, allowing me to shift from playing clear, lightly compressed cleans to full-out aggressive sustain and distortion –and control it all simply by varying my guitar’s volume control and picking,” said GeorgeLynch. “In many ways, it’s an old-school approach, but it’s also so much more natural and expressive in addition to being musically fulfilling when you can play both the guitar and amp dynamically together this way.”
The Mr. Scary Mod installs in minutes, is safe and effective to use, and requires no special tools or re-biasing of the amplifier. Simply insert the module into the cathode follower preamp position of compatible amplifiers (includes Marshall 2203/2204/1959/1987 circuits) and
immediately get the benefit of enjoying a hot-rodded amp that delivers all the pure harmonic character that comes with an added pure tube gain stage. The handmade in the USA Mr. Scary Mod is now available to order for $319.
For more information, please visit legendarytones.com.
October Audio has miniaturized their NVMBR Gain pedal to create two mini versions of this beautifully organic-sounding circuit – including an always-on gain device.
The NVMBR Gain is a nonlinear amp that transitions gracefully from clean boost to overdriven tones. Volume increases from just over unity to about 10db before soft-clipping drive appears for another 5db of boost. Its extraordinary ease of use is matched by outstanding versatility: you can use it as a clean boost, push a stubborn amp into overdrive or create a just-breaking-up sound at any amp volume.
October Audio’s new family of mini NVMBR Gain pedals includes a switchable version that allows you to bypass the effect: one option features brand logo pedal graphics, while the other sports a fun “Witch Finger” graphic with a Davies knob as the“fingernail”.
The second version in the new lineup is an always-on device featuring the Witch Finger graphic and Davies knob, with the same NVMBR Gain circuit that lies at the core of the switchable version.
- Knob controls gain and clipping simultaneously
- Stunning silver hammertone finish
- Switchable versions are true-bypass, available with classic or witch finger graphics
- Authentic Davies knobs, including the “fingernail”
- 9V center negative power supply required
- Dimensions: 3.63 x 1.50 x 1.88 in
Witch Finger (always on NVMBR Gain) demo
All October Audio pedals are assembled in Richmond, VA, and available for purchase directly through the online shop. Street price is $109 for NVMBR Gain footswitch versions and $89 for the always-on device.
For more information, please visit octoberaudio.com.