Category Archives: Boutique

Boutique effects

November GAS 2 : ToneConcepts Distillery

The Distillery is a boost pedal with many options to tweak the tone. Interestingly, it was designed in collaboration with big names like Billy Gibbons, Buddy Guy, Steve Lukather, etc. with a particular goal in mind: helping these guys get “their” tone through back line amps. And yes even famous gunslingers don’t always get to take their favorite gear on tour (especially when they come to places like Australia). As such, it is as much a tone sculpting tool as it is a boost pedal. Here is a demo involving a Les Paul and some high gain amp. The ToneConcepts website has more demos, check it out.

Buffalo FX Fuzz Pedals: Silicon vs Germanium

If you are just getting into Fuzz pedals, chances are that the first choice that you will have to make is: Germanium or Silicon? This refers to the transistor type inside the fuzz, or rather the material used by the pair of transistors responsible for distorting the signal.

Buffalo FX Fuzz Pedals: Silicon (left) and Germium (right)

Germanium transistors were used in the early generation of Fuzz Face pedals (mid 60s) but they were prone to temperature changes. More stable, Silicon transistors became more frequently used at a later stage.

It is hard to write about Fuzz pedals without writing about Jimi Hendrix aka the grand fuzz meister. He used Germanium fuzz pedals on his early albums (think Axis bold as Love) whereas on later albums such as “Band of Gypsys”, he is thought of having switched to Silicon. Of course, this is not absolutely certain as he probably used whatever he would get his hands on but this is a generally accepted fact.

When Steve from Buffalo FX offered me to compare his new Germanium model with his Silicon model, I jumped at the opportunity and you can hear the results in the video below (my insights after the video).

Note that I chose to record the pedals through a very clean amp in order to more plainly showcase the differences. A lot of guitarists use Fuzz pedals against an already overdriven amp which is a different thing altogether.


In this video, I run the Fuzz directly after the guitars then into a Boss RV-3 for a bit of Room Reverb and finally into my 1974 Fender Champ, a fairly bright amp


Build Differences

First let’s precise that Steve’s pedals are made to high standards using quality components. As such they represent the best of the boutique world.

They also sport more settings than the good old 2 knob Fuzz face, these knobs being Fuzz and Level for those of you who wouldn’t know. The Buffalo FX Silicon model features a third button named “Shape” which allows to tweak the bottom end. The Germanium model features a bias knob as well as a pregain knob. The pregain allows to tweak the amount of signal sent to the fuzz circuit whereas the bias changes the voltage, it can be used to change the tone but also to cater to temperature differences.


It is generally accepted that Germanium based Fuzz pedals have a “rounder” tone, less crisp than Silicon models. And I must say that this holds true with the Buffalo FX pedals. It is especially noticeable with single coil pickups, I found it a bit less flagrant with humbuckers. I also find that the Silicon model has slightly more gain on tap. It offers a tad more sustain with my Strat but it made the volume roll off cleanup a bit less smooth than the Germanium model.

I would say that if you are looking for an edgy, quite gainy Fuzz, Silicon is probably for you. But if you are looking for a warmer, bluesier even, Fuzz pedal, then Germanium might be a better match.

The best is probably to have both on the pedal board of course, he he

Moniker Guitars Kickstarter Campaign (Updated)

28-04-2012 Update: the guys at Moniker have exceeded their target for this Kickstarter campaign, kudos to them! I have contributed myself and my reward will be a Hype Box Boost Overdrive pedal, I can’t wait to get it.

Moniker Guitars is running a Kickstarter campaign to help finance tools and materials for their shop in Austin, Texas. The ultimate reward for the campaign is a gorgeous and reasonably priced semi hollow or solid body guitar built to your specifications. There is a choice of bodies and finishes (I personally love the telecaster inspired ones, they are totally igniting my GAS):

Semi-hollow body or...
Semi-hollow body or…
or solid body
…solid body


The $150 reward is a very limited edition boost/overdrive pedal called the hype box (video demo here):



Other rewards include a guitar body refinish, pickguards, t-shirt, etc. I say, give them a hand, their stuff looks really cool!

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