A Brazilian take on ’60s Fuzz Faces serves up some gorgeous germanium and silicon sounds at an incredible price.
Clip 2: Squier/Warmoth baritone Jazzblaster with Curtis Novak Widerange Jazzmaster pickups, in the middle pickup position, into a Catalinbread Topanga reverb, then into the Raven (with master volume at 3 o’clock)—first bypassed, then with germanium circuit engaged (gain at 2 o’clock), then with silicon circuit also engaged (with volume at 2 o’clock and gain at 3 o’clock)—then into a J. Rockett Audio Archer (set to clean boost), an Ibanez ES-2 Echo Shifter, and an MXR Reverb routed to a Jaguar HC50 miked by a Royer R-121 and a Goodsell Valpreaux 21 miked by a Shure SM57, both feeding an Apogee Duet going into GarageBand with no EQ-ing, compression, or effects.
“Silicon or germanium?” is usually the first point of pontification for those debating which versions of the venerated vintage Fuzz Face are most desirable. With Brazilian outfit Red Hawk Effects’ new Raven, the point is moot: It aims to replicate the best of both transistor persuasions in a single box outfitted with an effect-engage switch and master volume on the left, and a right-hand footswitch that toggles between a color-changing LED and gain controls for both a germanium (top knob, green LED) and a silicon FF-style circuit (bottom knob, red LED).
As with any fuzz, signal-chain placement is key: Before a J. Rockett Audio Archer (set to clean boost) and with the fuzz’s master volume past 3 o’clock (I preferred cranked), the Raven yielded a delicious array of tones, ranging from envelopingly burly germanium sounds with cello-like sustain to more focused, nasal, and—at higher gain settings—splatty silicon sonics. With a Catalinbread Topanga placed before it, the Raven transformed into a lovely shoegaze dream, serving up all sorts of bristling harmonic textures in the hinterlands between clean tones and overt mayhem. As Pam from Archer would say, “Sploosh!”
Test gear: Squier/Warmoth baritone Jazzmaster with Curtis Novak Jazzmaster Widerange pickups, Jaguar HC50, Goodsell Valpreaux 21, J. Rockett Audio Archer, MXR Reverb, Catalinbread Topanga, Drybell Vibe Machine, Ibanez Echo Shifter.