We use a refrigerator and the hot summer sun to see if this pedal’s Active Bias Monitor makes it one of the coolest germanium fuzzes on the market.
Jaw-dropping array of germanium-flavored fuzz and drive tones, recallable more consistently than perhaps any other germanium fuzz on the market. Robust build.
In a world where new fuzz pedals seem like an endless train of Big Muff, Fuzz Face, or Tone Bender wannabes, the germanium transistor-driven Silktone Fuzz instantly stands out. Cool logo and skirted flying-saucer knobs aside, what really draws the eye is the three-digit LED readout. At a glance, you might assume this indicates some sort of programmability—a digital task not normally associated with stellar fuzz. That’s not the case.
But why, exactly, are those LEDs constantly shifting? If you’re any sort of fuzz-o-phile, you know how finnicky vintage-style germanium units like those on classic Hendrix, Gilmour, Page, and Beck recordings can be. Getting consistent tones from the best germianum fuzz specimens can be a crapshoot. That’s because temperature has a dramatic effect on the stability of the current and voltage drawn in a germanium circuit. In electro-speak, this is called transistor bias.
Numbers Cruncher/Mercury Muncher
Perhaps the coolest (pun intended) of the Silktone Fuzz’s three extremely cool features is the near-miraculous way it enables its two germanium transistors to deal with temperature woes. While all transistor-driven fuzzes have at least one bias point, they’re usually only tweakable via tiny internal trimpots. But the Silktone’s bias is controlled by a handy full-sized knob up top, right next to the even handier patent-pending Active Bias Monitor readout. This means, for any of the many killer tones available, you can document—to two decimal points—the transistors’ bias measurement and then adjust to compensate for mayhem wrought by Mother Nature or a cranked air conditioner.
It’s not often one gets to employ a refrigerator and a hot summer day to test a guitar pedal, but that’s how I went about assessing the reliability of the Silktone Fuzz’s bias control and monitor. First, I recorded a reference tone with my Tele, Vibrolux Reverb, and a Royer R-121 ribbon mic in my 66-degree basement studio, photographing the knob positions and LED readout (which read 6.00 with bias at noon) for accuracy. Then I placed the Fuzz on a front-porch rocker in the 84-degree sunlight for 10 minutes, brought the warmed-up stomp back to the studio, and noted that the same bias-knob position now measured 8.25 and the tones sounded much more gated and jagged. Dialing bias counterclockwise to roughly 8 o’clock and comparing to my recording, I got the reading back to essentially the same reference tone and bias reading. I had the same experience in reverse after a 10-minute chill session in the fridge.
You Said Three Cool Things…
To nix another finnicky aspect of vintage-style fuzzes, the Silktone also has a pickup-simulator/debuffer at the beginning of the circuit that enables it to sidestep issues related to placement in a signal chain. Go ahead, put it before or after your wah or overdrive—it sounds the same. Further, the cleanup knob works in tandem with the debuffer to facilitate the range of scrumptious in-between boost and distortion tones that a good germanium stomp can yield with guitar-volume tweaks—only you don’t have to do anything but stomp to get there. Volume, meanwhile, works dynamically with fuzz and cleanup to let you go from deliciously grainy fuzz to thick, Muff-esque doom tones, to myriad shades of skanky, toothy, stabbing, or sqwonky boost/overdrive.
Saying anything is the “ultimate” anything can make you seem like either a novice or an ass-kissing eager beaver, but ... damn, man—the Silktone Fuzz is really cool.
Adding to the fun, there’s also a 2-way toggle for “classic” or meatier, more harmonically saturated “raw” bias modes. The bias control also acts as a potent tone/responsiveness control in its own right. Although the circuit design was inspired by the Fuzz Face and nearly identical Tone Bender MkI.5, setting bias near minimum can impart lo-fi, Velcro-esque stickiness—anywhere from thick, Fuzz Factory-like sounds to bee-in-a-can Fuzzrite tones. At other settings, bias tends to yield airier, more open-feeling tones, and past noon they’re more rotund. Near maximum, you get a palette of “strangled-fuzz” vibes.
Saying anything is the “ultimate” anything can make you seem like either a novice or an ass-kissing eager beaver, but … damn, man—the Silktone Fuzz is really cool. I don’t own a single guitar pedal with a digital readout, as they kinda give me the heebie-jeebies. But here it makes tons of sense, especially if you’re a germanium fan who gets around. But, even if your board never leaves your studio, this control scheme serves up so much ear candy, from traditional to offensive, that you might find yourself wanting three or four Silktones in a row for instant access to a horde of progressively aggro sounds. Huge, huge kudos, guys!
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Flare is a dual-function pedal with a tube-like booster and a 1970s-style ring modulator effect that can be played separately or together.
Flare’s ring modulator is based on the iconic tone of the original Dan Armstrong Green Ringer. This vintage classic was made famous by Frank Zappa who loved the unusual modulations created by generating a harmonic octave over notes. Messiah’s version offers two control knobs: a “Sparkle” tone attenuator and output Level control. Its taupe-gold body, purple and green knobs and stick-figure rock ’n’ roller holding up a flame convey an appropriately rockin’70s vibe.
In a unique twist, Messiah’s Flare pairs the ringer with a warm tube-style boost instead of a fuzz. Flare feeds the booster into the ringer for an extra punch, while preserving the Green Ringerspirit. The ringer side also turns any fuzz into an octafuzz, and it has the ability to quiet signal background noise fed through it.
The booster side features a single Boost knob to control the MOSFET circuit, making it very tube-amp-friendly with a warm, organic boost and gain of up to 32dB.
The pedal is a distinct improvement over the 1970s pedal that inspired it. “Most ringer pedals don’t track well,” Tom Hejda, owner of Messiah Guitars. “The player can’t rely on repeating the same effect even with the most consistently played notes. We carefully matched the components, so our ringer follows your every move, producing that slightly dirty octave you expect on demand.”
Messiah developed this vintage octave pedal with flexible features so that people who love that messy, dirty Zappa-esque sound can get there with ease but there’s also something for those who have not fallen in love with fuzz or the Green Ringer alone. Flare offers an array of sonic options while retaining simplicity in the controls.
Each Flair Pedal Includes:
- 3 control knobs: Boost, Sparkle, and Level
- Two effects – Ring Modulator and Boost – can be used together or separately
- Space-saving top side jacks
- Durable, cast aluminum alloy 125B enclosure with fun artwork
- Easy to see, illuminated True-bypass foot switch
- Standard 9V pedal power input
Flare Pedal Demo
Messiah Guitars pedals are designed with an explorative player in mind. Like their custom guitars and amplifiers, Messiah’s pedals are hand-crafted in Los Angeles for a long life with guaranteed quality.
Flare retails for $199.00 and can be purchased directly at Messiah Guitars or you can hear it in person at Impulse Music Co. in Canyon Country, CA.
For more information, please visit messiahguitars.com.
This feathery little guy is a joy to play because of its incredibly quick response to your right hand - much faster and more expressive than your typical auto-wah pedal.
If it looks like a duck, acts like a duck, and QUACKS like a duck, then it must be a duck. That's how we came up with the name for our new envelope filter. This feathery little guy is a joy to play because of its incredibly quick response to your right hand - much faster and more expressive than your typical auto-wah pedal. Trevor explains how this is possible in the launch video, as well as gives a demo on Le Canard’s operation.
The attack control determines how quickly the filter responds to the envelope, and the decay sets how quickly the filter releases afterward. The range controls which frequency spectrum the filter does its magic on. Add to this relay-based full-bypass switching with failsafe, and you've got one crazy little quacky beast. It is so expressive that you'll want to give up on your rocker-wah forever.
The MayFly Le Canard envelope filter features:
- Super fast responding envelope follower. Touch it and it jumps!
- Range control to dial in the character of the filter
- Attack control to control how fast the filter moves on that first touch
- Release control to control how slowly the filter slides back to baseline
- Full bypass using relays with Fail SafeTM (automatically switches to bypass if the pedal loses power)
- Cast aluminum enclosure with groovy artwork
- MSRP $149 USD ($199 CAD)
Introducing the MayFly Le Canard Envelope Filter
All MayFly pedals are hand-made in Canada.
For more information, please visit mayflyaudio.com.
Outlaw Effects introduces their next generation of NOMAD rechargeable battery-powered pedal boards.
Available in two sizes, NOMAD ISO is a compact, versatile tool that offers the convenience of a fully powered board plus the additional freedom of not having to plug into an outlet. NOMAD ISO is ideal for stages with limited outlet availability, quick changeovers, busking outdoors, temporary rehearsal locations, and more.
NOMAD ISO builds upon the legacy of the ultra-convenient and reliable NOMAD rechargeable pedalboard line originally launched in 2018. The brand new NOMAD ISO editions feature eight isolated outputs (1 x 9V DC, and 1 switchable 9V/12V DC) for even more versatility and clean, quiet power. With an integrated lithium-ion battery pack boasting 12800mAh capacity, NOMAD ISO can fuel a wide array of pedals, and will last over 10 hours* on a single charge.
Each NOMAD ISO pedal board includes adhesive hook & loop pedal-mounting tape, eight (8) standard DC connector cables, and one (1) reverse polarity DC cable, giving you everything you need to build your ultimate "off-the-grid" rig. A rugged, road-ready padded gig bag with shoulder strap is also included, to safely protect your gear while you're on the move.
NOMAD ISO S
NOMAD ISO S: MSRP $309 / MAP: $249
Dimensions: 19 ¼" x 5 ¼"
NOMAD ISO M
NOMAD ISO M: MSRP $349 / MAP $279
Dimensions: 19 ¼" x 11"
More info: https://www.outlawguitareffects.com.