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Acorn TMA-1 Review

Stop Dave ... this fuzz may blow the whole freaking ship apart!

Expansive range of massive to fizzy fuzz tones. Killer studio tool. Top-notch build. Looks awesome.

Clipping options can make gain settings a maze.


Acorn TMA-1


I’ll admit it: The Kubrick fanatic in me made it impossible to ignore the HAL 9000-inspired Acorn TMA-1. But I would love the sound of this thing if it looked like an egg carton. Acorn calls the TMA-1 a four-stage transistor fuzz, which is generally shorthand for “Big Muff.” The circuit board looks the part. And certainly, the TMA-1’s biggest voice is as brutish as the nastiest Big Muff. But it’s also highly tunable. The tone knob ranges from doomy to garage-psych ’66 sizzly. There are plenty of growly sub-maximum gain settings to work with, and a ton of volume on tap, too.

But the TMA-1 transcends simple big-fat-fuzz status—and earns the right to its near $200 price tag—thanks to its clipping options. The four clipping diodes and two mode switches mean you can select between germanium diode clipping and silicon diode clipping at two different points in the circuit’s gain stage—or opt for a terrifying bypass of the clipping stage entirely that makes the TMA-1 preposterously huge. Clipping options yield a super-wide range of tones that vary drastically in output volume and span textures from fizzy to all-germanium settings that can yield dynamic medium-high-gain overdrive to massiveness that’s best measured in megatons. Construction quality, by the way, is superb inside and out. And if you can overcome fear of the TMA-1 becoming malevolently self-aware, you might never want to turn it off.

Test Gear: Fender Telecaster, Fender Telecaster Deluxe with Curtis Novak Wide Range pickups, Rickenbacker 330, Fender Tremolux, Magnatone Starlite