The Gain Stage Series
Sometimes, it's not about chasing a tone from one specific piece of equipment, it's about capturing the tones from the entire signal chain. Looking back through history, there have been some truly outstanding fuzz tones. In particular, the tones achieved by running a fuzz into a screaming stack. The kind of tones that are just earth shattering in their depth, aggression and smoothness.
Brian Wampler, who's always looking for the best tones to capture, decided the chase was on. Taking the base tones from a very famous pedal and the characteristics of a famous stacked, EL34 driven, amp - decided it was about time those tones were brought together in pedal format. If you are a fan of the tones of the players like David Gilmour or Eric Johnson, then it could be that the Velvet Fuzz is the pedal you are looking for. The key to the tone of the Velvet is the voicing switch. In the 'big' position, the pedal reacts like a classic fuzz.
Loads of internal compression and truly massive tones it really is that 'tone' from that 'era'. Dropping the volume back cleans it up perfectly so your rhythm can remain clear enough and then your solo's will flatten all those who dare to stand before you. In the 'tight' position, the tone comes in and you get the feeling you have swapped amps as well, those mammoth tones but without the compression and other traits that many fuzz players love. ..Yes, that's right. If you love the tone of Fuzz but not the reaction of it, this is the setting on the pedal that is for you.
Though it’s pretty self-explanatory, this knob controls the volume of the output of the pedal. And this fuzz unit is no slouch, it gets Loud. Loads of level on tap to add a slight bit of fuzz and boost to an already cooking amp. The level has to be compensated depending on where the Fuzz knob is set. When the fuzz is low, the level knob will have to be run a little higher to achieve unity. With the fuzz set low, the level can be backed off of to match unit output. This works well with a dirty amp, but it really excels into a clean format as as well.
This knob dictates how much fuzz and clipping starts happening on your signal, and I can promise you there’s plenty of it. It can go from just a hint of fuzzy grit, all the way to full-bore cranked aggressive clipping (almost sputtery on the Big setting). Fully counterclockwise, it will give you a touch of fuzz, but allows the original tone of your guitar to shine through. The big thing to remember is that the level must be set really high to achieve unity when the fuzz is all the way down. It works great for having a boost and rolling the guitar volume knob back for rhythm, then turning the guitars volume back up to add that fuzzy sustain. At 9am on the knob, the clipping becomes more apparent, adding a depth to it with added sustain and grit. At noon, there’s loads of Fuzz on tap for early Hendrix stuff, and the sustain can hold for a considerable amount of time. Noon would likely be plenty of fuzz for a lot of people, but Brian likes to go all out. At 3pm, it’s into full on fuzz mode, with loads of sustain and clipping going on. You can hit a note and it will sustain for what seems like forever. This knob changes how it reacts based on what switch position is selected. In Big mode, it acts much more in a warmer, wilder feel with the fuzz getting woollier as the knob is turned up, all the way to the point of being a saggy, completely fuzz-laden wall of sound with very minimal original signal coming out. On the Tight setting, it acts more as a fuzzy distortion of sorts (works great for Gilmour riffs). As the gain goes up, it adds loads of sustain, but retains the character of the original signal much more than the Big setting.
This switch is what dictates the flavor of fuzz is being produced. On the Big setting, it’s much darker and saturated, indicative of those classic fuzz tones from the 60s and 70s going into a hot amp. It can go very over the top and crazy wooly at the top of the gain range. On the Tight setting, it’s not as wooly and retains a clarity and note definition, even with the fuzz all of the way up. The Tight setting is often thought of as distortion-ish, and that’s definitely right. It takes the parts of fuzz that people love and refines them to retain note definition and smooth out the whole tone of the fuzz.
This knob controls the overall high-end content that’s happening on the fuzz signal. Fully counter-clockwise is much more subdued and woollier (less high-end content coming through). It can get quite bassy. Clockwise will introduce more highs in and add some cut and depth into the signal. I will say that this circuit is very dark, so rarely do I run the Brightness less than Noon unless I’m playing on an inherently bright amp.
Numb but Comfortable
A singing fuzz with gallons of sustain, pushed through a cooking amp for classic fuzzy lead tones.
Cliffs of Johnson
Some say it's violin like, others say it's just the sweetest fuzz tone ever. ..we'll let you decide.
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