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Electro-Harmonix Cock Fight Plus Fuzz Wah Effect Pedal

The fuzz wah is flyin' at this cock fight!

 

by Chris Loeffler

 

 

It's not often, but ometimes you get exactly what you ask for. Almost two years ago I reveiwed the EHX Cock Fight fixed-filter fuzz pedal and was impressed by the quality of fuzz and dual filter circuits that were included (each one easily rationalizing the sub-$120 price); my only complaint was the requirement of an additional expression pedal to access the fluid wah-type sounds in real time. Fast forward to Fall of 2017 and I'm evaluating exactly that, in their newest release, the Electro-Harmonix Cock Fight Plus.

 

What You Need to Know

 

The Electro-Harmonix Cock Fight Plus runs on a standard 9v battery or included power supply and features controls for Volume, Drive, Tone, Bias, Bottom, Pre/Post, and Cry/Talk. The Cock Fight Plus expands on the original Cock Fight by ditching the Freq knob and movign the sweep of the filter to the treadle-pedal on top, like a traditional wah.

 

The fuzz portion of the circuit is sculpted using Drive, Tone, and Bias controls, and can be placed before or after the filter section or removed from the signal chain. Drive adjusts the overall amount of fuzz gain, and is very interactive with the Bias control, which dictates the voltage the circuit receives. While the Drive control goes from nearly clean to saturated, rich fuzz, the Bias control changes the structure of the gain based on how much juice it’s feeding. All the way up, Tonebender and Muff-style richness and dimension lurks, but when rolling back the Bias the gain starts to gate, the distortion beings to simplify, and eventually the tone devolves into sputtery, 8-bit Nintendo bloops by the bottom of the sweep. The Tone control shows surprising restraint for Electro-Harmonix (famous for giving so much range that things can get a little crazy) and is gentle and natural across its sweep, never getting too dull nor too bright...just helping ease your tone into a sweet spot.

 

The wah circuit is controlled by Volume, Bottom, and Mode controls and, unlike the fuzz, cannot be disabled when the pedal is on. The Volume control, logically, controls the effect's output volume (from dead quiet to double the volume of the original signal). The Bottom control allows for additional bass, typically cut in a wah-style effect, to be reintroduced, especially for bass or keyboard applications. The Bottom control is most effective with guitar when used in moderation, as things got a bit flabby with the control kept past noon. The Cry/Talk switch assigns one of two filter styles to the wah, which each merit individual discussion.  The actual of the filter, previously controlled by Frequency knob, again is swept by foot now like a standard wah pedal.

 

Cry Mode is a traditional wah tone, and likely the sound most people think of when asked to guess what the Cock Fight sounds like. Unlike many of the wah mainstays I’ve used, the sweep is surprisingly even and smooth and there weren’t any of the ugly points or harsh spikes I typically try to speed through. Hendrix, Zepp, Hammett…they’re all there. When in front of the fuzz circuit, the Cry mode is like a knife that cuts through the mix and beefs up the mids, just like a traditional Wah/Fuzz combo. The fuzz builds nicely around the filter and rounds out the edges. While the sound is very organic, even untrained ears will know something is happening beyond “distortion.” Depending on the guitar and amp, pretty much any point in the Frequency range has a valid application.

 

Placed after the fuzz, the Cry mode's filter section really pulls in the tonal range of the fuzz and boosts a confined scope of frequencies for some interesting, if not exactly vintage, tones. It’s spiky and more aggressive, and has an almost “out-of-phase” quality to it at many points of the sweep.

 

Talk Mode is a vocal, chewy filter setting that seems to recreate the vowel run A-E-I-O-U-W (OK… not a vowel) one would expect from the yowl of a golden-throated, baritone alley cat (but in a good way). Robotic, talk-box like tones seem to have a bigger smoothing effect over the attack definition, and it’s certainly the less traditional-sounding of the two modes.

 

Placing the fuzz in the post position obscures some of this funkiness due to the gain, and Frampton-like “howling into a distorting loudspeaker”-type sounds are attainable; but in the pre-position, the filter gets a stranglehold over the fuzz and creates synth-like tones that would be as at home in an EDM recording as they would the world of rock. While this may sound dismissive or like a one-trick pony, I doubt there is a Cock Fight Plus owner who won’t find a way to sneak the Talk setting into a live performance for at least one song.

 

Limitations

 

While it's hardly a subtle effect, there is no visual indication of whether the pedal is engaged or not, so forgetful (er... drunk?) people who need LED feedback of what's on may be challenged.

 

Conclusion

 

The Electro-Harmonix Cock Fight Plus is still  the rare example of an analog multi-effect that does everything right. The fuzz sounds and feels good enough to satisfy any vintagea fuzz snob, and the two wah modes are top candidates in their own categories. As if sounding great as individual components wasn’t enough, the circuits play together, providing a treasure trove of lead and rhythm tones. There  will always be the temptation to overuse cocked wah fuzz settings to cut through the mix unit it becomes fatiguing - but hate the player, not the game!  -HC

 

Resources 

 

Electro-Harmonix Cock Fight Plus Cocked Wah Product Page

 

Buy the Electro-Harmonix Cock Fight Cocked Wah (MSRP $164.70, MAP $123.50)

 

@Sweetwater   

 

@Guitar Center

 

                                        

                                      

____________________________________________ 

 

Chris Loeffler is a multi-instrumentalist and the Content Strategist of Harmony Central. In addition to his ten years experience as an online guitar merchandiser, marketing strategist, and community director he has worked as an international exporter, website consultant and brand manager. When he’s not working he can be found playing music, geeking out on guitar pedals and amps, and brewing tasty beer. 

 

 

 
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