Vintage Guitar - February 2017 - Open - 118
VG APPROVED GEAR
CIRCUITS GONE WILD
Red Witch Zeus Bass Fuzz Suboctave
and SoloDallas Schaffer Replica
uzz and octavers are among the hottest
pedals around, with some builders even
melding them to great effect. The Red Witch
Zeus Bass Fuzz Suboctave is one such box.
It's designed for bass players, but guitar
players will crave it, too.
An all-analog design featuring siliconbased fuzz (fueled by two BC109 transistors,
same as the Red Witch Fuzzgod), the Zeus
Bass has four controls arranged like a mixer.
An Octave Mix control brings in the dry-towet octave sound; "Off" is full off/bypass, or
turn it full up for an entirely processed tone.
The Fuzz knob sets the fuzz-tone level while
Fuzz Mix brings in just the right amount.
Sputter is another feature showing up
more these days, imitating the staccato,
farting sounds of 8-bit audio or a battery
crapping out. On the surface, it seems like
a negative, but on the job it's one of the
coolest effects in town. The Sputter knob
makes a fair amount of crackling, but
that's the circuit adjusting the DC bias,
which is normal.
Used with a Relic Guitars Hague
model, a Musicvox MI-6 bass, and a
1x10 Class A tube amp, the Zeus Bass
Fuzz delivered massively fat tones. The fuzz
is musical and warm, unlike some brash,
nasty square waves. Dial in the gigantic
suboctave effect for lo-fi, psychedelic city,
perfect for everything from Jefferson Airplane to Sonic Youth. Ladle on some Sputter
that harkens back to early-'70s Frank Zappa,
Jeff Beck, and Stevie Wonder. Playing the
greasy riff from "Superstition" on the Zeus
resulted in pure sonic ecstasy.
The Schaffer Replica by SoloDallas is an
out-of-left-field unit based on the monster
tone of AC/DC's Angus Young. One of Angus' secret weapons was the Schaffer-Vega
Diversity System wireless unit, the first of
its kind to gain a toehold among players
of the late '70s. The curious thing is that
the old SVDS had such a great preamp and
unique gain character that Angus also used
it in the studio just a few feet away from his
Price: $299.99 (list, Red Witch Zeus Bass Fuzz);
$359 (street, SoloDallas Schaffer Replica)
Info: redwitchpedals.com, solodallas.com
118 February 2017
The Schaffer Replica is an authentic
recreation of that unique circuit, giving a
powerful boost in front of a tube amp. The
pedal just has three controls: an on/off
footswitch, input, and output. Basically, turn
the effect on and decide how much you want.
The Schaffer Replica uses the two-step
"companding" process to smack the front
of a tube amp, much like an overdrive pedal.
"Companding" is a telecommunications
term indicating a signal is compressed on
one end and then expanded on the other end
- sort of the audio equivalent of a compressed
.ZIP folder. The unique SVDS circuit takes
the input signal and proceeds to warm,
fatten, and generally pump it up. Whether
used with a Strat into a clean Fender amp or
an SG into a plexi Marshall, tone becomes
more exciting and lively.
The Schaffer Replica is such a simple
pedal that it needs to be heard for one to
understand its cool factor. Plug it in,
step on the footswitch, and marvel
at its killer tone. Angus knew it was
a great circuit 40 years ago. Now you
can hear it for yourself. - Pete Prown