The Pigtronix PolySaturator delivers old-school fuzz
Reading guitar magazines and hearing all about a new piece of gear from an admired guitarist can be dangerous. In an attempt to satisfy our curiosity and nail that elusive tone we hear in our heads, we run the risk of falling victim to Gear Acquisition Syndrome, or GAS. In the category of distortion pedals, the subjective nature of the sounds they produce can lead to Empty Wallet Syndrome, or EWS. One player’s smooth distortion is another player’s sonic nightmare, and it ain’t cheap.
The Pigtronix PolySaturator is a multi-stage distortion pedal with a wide gain control and adjustable low, mid and high band graphic EQ. The Pigtronix catalog states that it’s based on the overdrive tones found in their Disnortion pedal, but it takes the idea further by adding four vintage JRC4558D chips, a Class A J-FET booster stage and a secret “special little chip” to the front-end. The gain structure has also been re-voiced to get everything from a clean volume boost to over the top fuzz. As if that wasn’t enough, it’s also true bypass.
When I took the PolySaturator out of the box I couldn’t believe how small it was. It is smaller than a Boss pedal and fit perfectly on my pedalboard. The first edition of the pedals have been hand-painted by Jason Myrold, of Zvex fame, and are perfect for adding some eye candy to your floor setup. While some might question the placement of the Input and Output jacks – both situated on the right side of the unit – it wasn’t a problem in the vertical position. It comes with a 15VDC adapter and the layout of the controls are very straightforward, with plenty of room for tweaking.
I was surprised to discover that the PolySaturator sounds more like a cousin to the fuzz family than you might expect, at least by judging from its name. Instead of a wall of saturated distortion, I was getting gritty, old school, organic rock tones with freakish lowend. This pedal loves single coil pickups and was begging me to play “Foxey Lady” the entire time it was plugged in. As I switched between a Marshall JCM800, a Fender Pro Reverb and a Fender Deluxe Reverb, I was particularly impressed with its articulation and definition. Even with the gain maxed, I could hear the clarity beneath its monstrous growl. The adjustable, active EQ provides 12dB of cut or boost at the 180Hz, 420Hz and 1KHz frequencies, giving this little unit a lot of tonal possibilities. I could dial in tones capable of slicing through a heavy mix or beef up the mids for a sweeter sound. With the gain set at noon, I was getting classic Marshall-esque breakup for rhythm parts and cutting lead tones for traditional blues soloing.
A fair word of warning: the PolySaturator bites and has some hair on it. It’s more suited to players who prefer fuzz over a saturated distortion sound. It’s great for dialing in your favorite fuzz tone or the sweet sound of an amp breaking up during chunky rhythms. Shredders should look elsewhere.
The Final Mojo
For the guitarist looking for a flexible alternative to your garden-variety fuzz and distortion pedals, the Pigtronix PolySaturator offers up cool, dirty sounds and vibe for days. Its small size will open up valuable real estate on your pedalboard and add sumptuous grit and ballsy low-end to your sound.
you have a hankering for old school fuzz tones with tonal flexibility and killer low-end.
you prefer modern distorted tones.
MSRP $209 - Pigtronix - pigtronix.com
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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.