I had to create this organized collection of words to try and help right a wrong that has been bugging me increasingly for about a year now.
It all started last summer when a routine pedal trade brought me the good fortune of getting a bonus broken fuzz pedal for an extra $50. At first I thought that this man was clearly an idiot and a weasel, and that today I must look like a sucker and a fool (who pays $50 for a broken fuzz? Not this fool!). I made some non-committal noises while fondling the pedal I had traveled there for. He disappeared around a corner and soon returned with a small, white cardboard box. Opening it revealed to me a simple, bright orange box that sparkled subtly in the light. Contrasting sharply with the sparkling orange was a two letter stylized glyph floating above a single word: OX HYBRID. Having enjoyed many orange pedals before, I decided to take it without really knowing what it was or if it could ever make noise (I did mention I was a fool). Besides, it looked quite charming with only two big black chicken heads and no power jack - like a Halloween themed trinket of some kind.
In my travels I had crossed paths with a few pictures and occasional hushed whispers of OXFUZZ pedals and how they could be compared to great things in small metal boxes that I couldn't afford. I knew they were both not cheap, and Canadian made. I looked them up when I got home and did some basic research only to discover that there were only a couple of videos showing the pedal in only one setting. People spoke highly of the germanium model, the silicon model, the bass model, the sequel model in a bigger box with an external bias knob, but there was almost no mention of the hybrid anywhere that I could find. I did however find the motivation to get this pedal working as quickly as was humanly possible.
I looked up OXFUZZ's contact info and found it was a guy named Ken in Toronto. Brilliant! I was in Toronto myself and could probably just get him to fix it for some small fee. First I would look inside and see what it looked like. I have no experience fixing pedals and figured I had little to no chance of being able to fix it, but I might as well put a battery in and see what happened. I took the back off and immediately recognized the stamp on the germanium: the coveted NKT275. Being as I was originally from a place called Newmarket, I immediately identified and bonded with this little transistor.
On to the battery change. I took the battery clip between my fingers and noticed something was amiss: while the one wire was firmly soldered to the board, one wire was just dangling there, unanchored. I have some basic soldering and wiring skills that allow me to rewire a strat, but I wasn't sure I knew what to do in this situation. I searched for obvious solder points that had broken and soon lucked out. It appeared that the battery clip had been pulled too hard and had snapped at the solder point connecting it to the input jack. I re-soldered it with a hope and a secular prayer, then let it cool for a bit.
My mind turned over fantasy scenarios where I just easily fixed this awesome new pedal that would become my favourite piece of kit and how great that unlikely event would be. It was too simple a problem. I would probably have to send it back to Ken and he would tell me I had melted some essential component with my vicious and brutal soldering and it would never be fixed and how disappointed he was with how I had ruined his creation.
After a nervous cooling period I popped in a new battery and screwed the back plate in place. I turned on my amp to let it warm up and plugged in the pedal while I was waiting. To my surprise the light came on when I hit the stomp switch. Hmmm... that's encouraging. A minute later my guitar was strapped on, the amp was warmed, the pedal was in place, lit up, and with all the appropriate cables in all the appropriate places. I took the amp off standby and hit the strings...
...and my optimistic fantasy became reality!
Not only did the pedal work, but it easily and instantly became my desert island pedal. I have three other pedalboards for different applications and this pedal didn't kick anything off of any of them, instead it became my one-pedal pedal. It became a refreshingly light alternative to a pedalboard.
With the gain knob fully down (off, counter-clockwise) I can throw this in front of almost any amp and it gives it a familiar response with just a touch of grit. As the gain goes up it becomes a nice, thick, low-gain overdrive that really shows its teeth as you hit the strings harder. The middle of the gain range covers Neil Young at his rustiest Plain and simple. Then there is the high-gain range and what I call the tipping point. The high-gain range is great, creamy-rich gobs of sweet, sweet fuzz that sounds and (more importantly) feels great while riffing, soloing, meandering or knoodling, all while somehow managing to sound classy. Then there is the tipping point: when fully dimed, this pedal changes it's sound into a jagged, beautiful, violent, deranged beast that feeds on that one sound that occurs only when someone sticks your head in a gigantic iron bell, dunks you underwater in a lake, and plays the bell with a jackhammer.
All the while these noises can be tamed with a drop of the volume knob. This pedal is damned responsive to guitar volume and picking dynamics.
This pedal may also have more raw volume on tap that any other pedal I own.
I've never felt it was lacking a tone knob as it keeps the personality of the sound you throw into it. Each of my guitars' familiar sound and response comes through the other side - just fuzzier. I adjust the tone as I would with my clean channel: I use my pickup selector, volume, and tone knobs, and it translates perfectly through to the amp.
Another great feature is that even at the highest gain setting there is noticeable less hiss and background noise than any other dirt box I own. It feels great to stop playing between passages and not be assaulted with loud hums, hisses, or other electric groans.
There's a bias trim pot inside but I have never felt the need to adjust it at all. The battery life is impressive. I've only changed the battery once, and even then it was only as a precaution before taking it on a trip (I never want to stop for batteries on a trip cause a pedal stops working). With the new battery in I didn't feel the bias needed any adjustments - It still sounded good.
That was a year ago. My opinions on this pedal remain the same, unfortunately so too does the amount of coverage this pedal gets online. This pedal has caused me so much sonic joy since I got it that I feel other people must know. If other people do know, then they're keeping it a secret, and that evil doing must end now. Find this pedal, play it, love it, spread the word.
Either way. I believe I have now done my part to right that perceived wrong and spread the news of the OXFUZZ Hybrid. It is wonderful and has been my favourite single piece of guitar-sound augmentation paraphernalia since I acquired it.