The octave fuzz section from the Atreides Weirding Module gets its own star turn in a buzzing bruiser that can be absurd and beautiful.
Unusually flexible and sustain-rich octave fuzz. Fat, rubbery synth-like sounds. White-hot fuzz. Versatile tone and fuzz and sub octave levels.
Can’t entirely remove fuzz or octave signal.
Way Huge Stone Burner
Way Huge’s Atreides Weirding Module is one of Jeorge Tripps’ great gifts to the world. It’s a gift that keeps giving, too. The Attack Vector phaser and envelope was its first offspring. But the newest, the Stone Burner Sub Atomic octave fuzz is a killer, maybe the coolest, and probably the most practical pedal from the Atreides family. It’s an unusually useful and forgiving octave fuzz that will generate up to two sub octaves, which feature more or less prominently depending on the sub level.
This sub octave filter works in concert with the fuzz, which you can’t remove entirely from the mix, but which ranges in intensity from nasty and spitty to double-nasty and surprisingly capable of sustain. Various mixes of the sub and fuzz levels yield tonalities that stretch from synthy elasticity and fuzz bass to fractured, tectonic-scale Earth rumblings, and fuzz that sounds like a banshee gargling gravel and rusty nails. (I mean this in the most complimentary possible sense.)
The wide-ranging tone knob, meanwhile, has a profound effect on a given mix’s glitchiness, sustain, and overtone profile. The Stone Burner also responds in fascinating ways to guitar volume and tone input—sometimes emphasizing tight fundamentals and octaves in more concise and equal parts, or enhancing the more synth-like qualities of the filter. Variations in pitch from finger vibrato and whammy bars activate many ghostly responses and overtones, too. Needless to say, it is a fairly confrontational effect, but the Stone Burner is also malleable, sweet, bratty, and beautiful.
Calling all pedal lovers! You could win one of SIXTEEN pedals in this year's I Love Pedals giveaway. Come back daily for more entries, giving you dozens of chances to win! Giveaway ends March 1, 2024.
Swipe or click to see all the prizes below!
Enter here. Come back daily for more entries to win!I Love Pedals 2024 - Win Pedals All Month Long!
A super sounding analog delay stalwart finds refinement in tap tempo, subdivisions, and a hold switch.
A great-sounding analog delay that’s easy to use and rather addictive in the process.
Repeats control tapers abruptly, and the two footswitches are very close together.
Jam Pedals Delay Llama Mk3
In this thoughtful, understated upgrade of the original Delay Llama, those sneaky folks at Jam Pedals have brought much of the essential bonus functionality of 2020’s Delay Llama Xtreme to a more compact pedal with a simple and familiar layout. Though the new Llama looks a lot like its predecessors, the Mk3 includes a tap-tempo footswitch, subdivisions switch, and a hold function—simple, practical, but critical improvements that enhance its functionality and musical capabilities considerably.
Most importantly to those that have always savored the sound of the original Delay Llama, it retains the same analog delay engine, driven by bucket-brigade chips that are faithful reproductions of the beloved Panasonic MN3205. This architecture means the Mk3 is capable of a maximum delay time of 600 ms. So, you’re guaranteed the warm, full-bodied sound that, over the years, attracted major players like Jim Campilongo, Marc Ribot, and Adrian Legg to the original Delay Llama.
"Best perhaps, the pedal is a doddle to dial in and use as desired."
Knob and Tube
The core of the Delay Llama Mk3’s functions still reside in the three knobs for delay time (T), repeats (R), and level (L). Below these, the previous single on/off footswitch has been moved to the lower-left corner of the enclosure and is now paired with a tap-tempo footswitch situated in the opposite corner. Needless to say, it requires nimble footwork and practice to avoid hitting both. But essentially, the setup works. Just above the tap button, a 3-way toggle lets you divide the tapped tempo selection into eighth, quarter, and dotted-quarter notes. Holding down the tap footswitch engages a self-oscillation mode.
Inside the enclosure, there’s an internal trimmer that sets the delay trail’s fade-out time (the amount of time the delayed signal takes to decay once you switch off). Another trim pot sets the maximum number of repeats. Further, a nifty trick allows you to change the pedal from its preset (factory) true-bypass mode to a buffered mode that enables trails (this involves removing the power cable, pressing and holding the tap button, then reinserting the power cable until three LED blinks tell you the buffered mode has been set). Power comes via standard center-negative 9V adaptor, and the unit draws 120 mA.
Llama Rama Ding Dong
In practice, the Delay Llama Mk3 reveals a superbly characterful and juicy-sounding analog delay voice that shines—even within a product category that’s rich with enticing delay sounds. At its essence, there is very little to criticize in the design or sound. The 600 ms maximum delay time is pretty standard for the bucket-brigade crowd and supplies enough spacey echoes to suit just about everything save for ultra-expansive, otherworldly soundscaping. What’s best, perhaps, is that the pedal is a doddle to dial in and use as desired.
Though many deep texturalists need über-complex delays with a boatload of extra parameters and presets, many guitarists relish the straight-ahead pleasures of an analog delay pedal—where you settle in, fine-tune the repeats and blend, and dig the atmosphere without wondering about the little stuff. That’s exactly where the Delay Llama Mk3 transported me with ease. I’m not exactly a delay fanatic, yet I did not want to turn this thing off. Its sound and the effect itself inspired new riffs—and plenty of smiles—from the start. And it only got more enjoyable the more I played it.
Very few of its design shortcomings upset the bliss of playing the Delay Llama Mk3. The taper of the repeats knob accelerates pretty quickly from the fully anti-clockwise position, so dialing just three repeats instead of six or eight can be tricky. Still, most such nuances can be managed with practice and a light touch.
The Delay Llama Mk3, which is one of the last BBD delay pedals still being handmade with through hole components, is a great-sounding analog delay pedal that easily dishes late ’70s and early ’80s bucket-brigade goodness with a low noise floor and useful tap-tempo functionality. The repeats pot taper could benefit from some fine-tuning, and the enclosure is a bit narrow for negotiating both the bypass and tap-tempo footswitches cleanly. But the Delay Llama Mk3 is still a standout in the analog delay camp, any way you cut it.
High-end playability distinguishes an entry-level Taylor that shines, for less than 800 bucks.
Crazy playability that matches much more expensive instruments. Excellent fit and finish. Super comfortable.
Midrange can dominate in strumming situations. Expression System 2 electronics highlight midrange emphasis.
There’s nothing new about Taylor building great, affordable guitars. Even instruments like the modest GS Mini always feel inviting and capable of inspired musical moments. The build-quality in these Tecate, Mexico-constructed guitars always impresses, too. But taking a spin with the new 112ce-S suggests that Taylor has reached another level of balance to go with their sense of affordable guitar craft.
The most substantial change in the newest addition to Taylor’s entry-level 100 Series is the introduction of a layered sapele back and sides, which pair nicely with solid, matte Sitka spruce tops to generate a warm, bright personality. But that combination seems to achieve a sort of ideal in the form of the 112ce-S grand concert, which manages to sparkle sonically, but also feel incredibly comfortable and impeccably playable in ways that you see in much more expensive instruments.
Made to Cradle
Regardless of your tone aspirations, it’s impossible to argue the comfort of cradling a grand concert body. Generally speaking, a grand concert is about the size of a classical body shape (which has a few centuries of refinement behind it), and it won’t feel entirely alien to a player who’s spent most of their time on the electric side of the fence. Nor will it threaten to dislocate your shoulder after a couple of hours the way a dreadnought can if you’re of smaller stature. And the way it fits more naturally against the body lends itself to more nuanced playing techniques. The 112ce-S seems to multiply all these benefits. And, at times, it genuinely feels like an extension of your own body.
The pleasure of holding the 112ce-S is enhanced even more by the excellent playability of the instrument. We’ve grown used to experiencing unsurpassable playability on Taylor’s high-end instruments—most notably that magic blend of low action and freedom from fret buzz that facilitates fast and easy fretting and navigation over the length of the fretboard. The 112ce-S couldn’t live much more squarely in that sweet spot. Intonation on our review guitar is dead on. And, remarkably, the Taylor traveled from our video team in a sweltering hot Nashville to cool, foggy Northern California and arrived almost perfectly in tune. I’m not sure exactly what Taylor does to make these instruments so stable. My tour of the company’s California plant some years back showcased a combination of CNC manufacturing and careful hands-on touches that yielded very high-quality instruments. My guess is that the Tecate plant is using the very same construction techniques to excellent effect.Evidence of careful craftsmanship is easy to see elsewhere. Apart from a trace of errant glue spread around the kerfing, the guitar looked perfect on the inside. Outside, the guitar is pretty much flawless. The 3-piece maple neck, in particular, is a gem. It's capped with an ebony fretboard, and its lovely profile—almost a cross between a C and an oval—fills the hand and feels substantial without feeling too bulky. Expressive moves like finger vibrato feel natural and easy. And like the rest of the guitar, the neck feels conceived to eliminate playing fatigue. In concert with the low action, it makes playing for hours a breeze. The classy looking Venetian cutaway has its benefits, too. It’s easy to play a lead right up the 19th fret and hear that top note ring clear, true, and free of buzz.
The Middle Ground
Grand concert bodies, in general, have benefits beyond comfort. In my experience, they tend to record exceptionally well, especially when mahogany is in the mix. They aren’t too bossy or boomy. They shimmer when recording rhythm parts, and they are even and detailed when tracking fingerstyle. The 112ce-S is capable of all these same feats, but it really excels in the fingerstyle realm. The guitar’s midrange leanings give the 3rd, 4th, and 5th strings a snappy reaction to a soft touch. The top two strings ring with a warm and chimey glow around pronounced transients. And the bottom string blooms with overtones that surround a round and robust transient attack. It’s a beautifully balanced instrument in this setting. It awakens and enlivens chord melodies that move up and down the length of the neck. It feels just as balanced and alive in capo’d settings, and requires little to no retuning as you move a capo around the neck. In stage performance terms, these attributes make the 122ce-S something of a fingerstylist’s dream.
Strumming is less flattered by the Taylor’s midrange-forward voice, though it is certainly far from brash or unpleasant. The same pretty bass response that you hear in fingerstyle settings remains evident when you take a flatpick to the 112ce-S. But the strong midrange that makes the 112ce-S feel so alive in soft fingerstyle situations does become an especially strong flavor if you hit the strings hard. The guitar sounds much prettier when you use a lighter touch and a thin flatpick. Played this way, it’s easy to hear how the 112ce-S would shine amid stacked rhythm parts on a recording or when tracking alternate, overdubbed chord voicings with a capo. Strummers with a heavy hand, or for whom that style is a foundation of their playing, may want to look elsewhere. But if strumming is just a part of your songwriting vocabulary, the 112ce-S may fit perfectly into your mixed approach.
For just under 800 bucks, the Taylor 112ce-S is, in most respects, a steal. And while it’s effectively an entry-level Taylor, I would have no qualms about touring or recording with this thoughtfully executed grand concert. The Expression System 2 electronics make it good-to-go for gigging, even though they benefit from careful EQ from the onboard controls or a pedal to eliminate boxiness. However you put the 112ce-S to work, though, it’s a surefire pleasure—particularly when you consider the impressive value it represents.
Taylor's Best Under $800?! The Taylor 112ce-S Grand Concert Demo | First Look
This tribute to the golden era of fuzz raises hairs with its classic tones, articulation, and sheer punch.
Great sounding and highly controllable up-octave fuzz, with the ability to cut through a live mix, at a nice price.
No lower octave voice. Shadow side of the balance dial can get too murky. Side-mounted jacks might be a liability on some pedalboards.
Electro-Harmonix Lizard Queen
For years now, I’ve had Siri address me as Lizard King. Not in homage to Jim Morrison, but in tribute to the true king of the saurians, Godzilla. So, naturally, I was intrigued by the Lizard Queen octave/distortion, a collaboration between Electro-Harmonix and JHS Pedals. Besides, I’m always on the prowl for something that growls. And this silicon-transistor-based octave-up fuzz possesses a voice that’s monstrous yet controllable and reactive in ways that make it easier to dial in classic, articulate fuzz tones than many other octave/fuzz devices at or above its very reasonable price.
The Lizard’s Tale
This box of hair was a labor of love, created by JHS Pedals founder Josh Scott and artist Daniel Danger in an effort to conjure a mythical “lost” EHX fuzz pedal from the 1970s. They built a half-dozen in 2022, and presented one to EHX major-domo Mike Matthews. Scott and Danger even made a video about building the Lizard Queen, which created a groundswell of demand from pedal freaks, resulting in this EHX/JHS co-branded unit.
The Lizard Queen is a simple and potent device with three dials: volume, octave, and balance. The octave control ranges from zero (to the left) to a full high-octave setting (to the right). For fans of articulate-but-gnarly fuzz, the pedal sings quite nicely with this dial set between noon and 4 o’clock. The balance control is a filter that shifts between “shadow” (to the left) and “sun” (to the right) settings. Naturally, shadow rolls off highs to create a darker tone, and sun adds treble in a way that sizzles without compromising the organic voice of your guitar. A sweet spot lies right up the middle.
Finally, the very potent volume knob controls the master output. Along with judicious positioning of the octave and dial controls, it assures your fuzz-laden licks will not get lost in a mix. Ever. The volume dial does not, however, affect pedal gain. That’s fixed at a nicely clipped, low level that, to my ears, zeroes in on a template late-’60s/early-’70s fuzz sound—reminiscent of the Electric Prunes or the Guess Who.
Battle of the Boxes
To test the Lizard Queen, I played it against a few octave fuzz pedals I have on hand—mostly notably the Way Huge Purple Platypus, which has a three-dial setup with similar functions. The amp was my Carr Vincent, and I plugged in a variety of single-coil- and humbucker-equipped guitars. The most interesting discovery was how the guitar’s volume dial interacts with the balance control. Keeping the dial to the shadow side or up the middle, with the guitar’s volume on 7 or so, allowed for restrained-but-gnarly chords. Then, rolling the 6-string volume up toward 10 for solos radically increased sizzle-and-bite for both single-coil and humbucking pickups, but without compromising note articulation. Quite impressive. By the way, the Lizard Queen runs on a 9V DC barrel-type power supply, or, in a suitable salute to the past, a battery, and draws 5 mA.
It was easy to find great, classic-fuzz voices within the Lizard Queen. And compared to the other pedals I tried, the Queen reigned with its balance of fuzz and articulation. It’s perfect for solos that conjure the Nuggets era. The circuit is punchy and lucid, with crisp, articulate sounds that lapse into diffusion only when one ventures too far down the shadow zone’s slope. My favorite setting for rave-ups put the volume at 10 o’clock, the octave at 3 o’clock, and the balance at noon—and with a slide, it made for dirty, sustained perfection. But temperance is key. Too much octave or balance makes for a diminished tone or a mushier fuzz, but anywhere in the 9 o’clock to 3 or 4 o’clock range on those dials is sonic manna.
At $99 street, the Lizard Queen octave/distortion is a bargain and a magic-carpet ride back to the golden era of fuzztone. Its three controls makes it easy to dial in classic sounds that can also be highly reactive to guitar volume. And while many fuzz boxes can get lost in the blast of a full band onstage, the Lizard Queen—with its impressive output—will have no trouble slithering to the front of the mix. PG