Saturday, February 18, 2012

That 70 Tone

I’m forever on the search for the “perfect silicon fuzz face.” I have a feeling such a thing doesn’t exist. Or maybe if it does, it’s not for me. My favorite fuzz of all time is a V1 Tonefactor Mojohand Huckleberry. But it’s not an exact fuzz face replica. It has the addition of a Big Muff style tone circuit. I’m guessing it must be that tone circuit that makes the Huckleberry stand out so fiercely in a band mix (which I realize makes no sense because Muffs are notorious for getting lost in the mix). Because every time I try another fuzz face type pedal, I always think “hey this thing sounds pretty good!” But then I take it to band practice and invariably prefer the Huck.

And so it was with the Fulltone ’70 (the newer small box version). I was super excited when Fulltone announced the reissue of both the ’69 and ’70. I spent a few months with the ’70 recently and it just didn’t do it for me. I picked it up used in a trade and sadly the previous owner had played with the internal bias control (apparently these things are set at the factory by Mike Fuller himself.) As a result, I ended up spending a lot of time tweaking the bias and trying out different sounds.

The ’70 is a great sounding fuzz. As for being gnarly and full of “snarl and spit” as Fulltone advertises, I didn’t hear that. What I heard was a very polite and smooth Fuzz Face tone. One that responds pretty well to variations from the volume pot on a guitar and one that responds very well to picking dynamics. It never gets sparkly clean, but most silicon fuzz face circuits don’t. I found that it was a really nice fuzz for rhythm work. It’s “clear enough” that you can hear notes in a chord without that ring mod type “clanging” you get with some fuzzes.

As for the mid-control, maybe it was my amps (a Reverend Goblin usually set in the lo-fi setting and a Vox AC4), but the mid control didn’t do much for me. It had a subtle effect at best and didn’t really make the ’70 stand out better in a band mix.

The pedal is beautiful to look at, especially the blue hammertone finish. And the build quality is impeccable. Having the thumb screws for removing the bottom is great – everyone should do it!

My final verdict on the ’70 is that it is a nice pedal, and especially nice for fuzzy rhythm playing. But it just isn’t that versatile and certainly not better than the fuzzes I already have. And so the search continues…fingers crossed for the Dunlop Eric Johnson Fuzz Face (said by the guy who doesn’t really care for EJ).

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