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4ms Noise Swash Distortion
Overall Rating
Submitted: October 11th, 2002
by homunculuz
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General Comments
A lot of people seem curious about how the Swash measures up to the Z vex Fuzz Factory. I just received my swash made by Mike from prophecy sound last week (you can see my pedal on the www.prophecysound.com projects page), and as I have owned a fuzz factory I thought that I could lend my insight on the issue. (Preliminaries: I play mostly ?experimental? and ?indie? type rock: Sonic Youth, Pavement, Unwound, Television, Patty Smith, Frank Black as influences. My setup is: Strat or Gibson The Paull II--->Tu-2-->cry baby-->MF-102 ring mod-->noise swashÓBoss OS-2-->DOD flanger 575-->Prophecysound infinitphase-->Ibanez ad-80-->Line 6 dl-4-->Peavey duel 212 and Fender super 210 amps These pedals are really similar in their strengths, and in their drawbacks. First, both pedals are capable of over the top (Velcro fuzz as vex calls it in his instruction sheet) dirty, post apocalyptic, fuzz roars/screeches. It is this unconventional character that is the selling point of both these boxes...and both pedals deliver on this promise. Second, as some have complained, though I am not troubled by it, the controls of these pedals are highly interactive...with the stated function of each only loosely indicating a parameter it controls. Perhaps with twice as many knobs, the standard Swash is the more variable beast. These boxes are not friendly to those who wish to find in them one or two permanent settings that sound the same each time you plug in and play (this is not to criticize the consistent box, I have another fuzz for this purpose)...instead the master of the Swash or the F.F. acquires a feel for the tendencies of their box. With patience, through these boxes, one will become a fuzz jedi. Now, many have complained with the F.F. that it cannot nail conventional fuzz sounds. I don't believe that this is the case. However, it is frustrating having found one to try and dial it up again. I think the swash and the F.F. are roughly equivalent in the quality of typical fuzz sounds though the swash offers a more diversified pallet...having the capability of rendering deep dense fuzz and straight clear distortion and a number of sounds in between. On the other hand, I think that the F.F. MIGHT offer a more pristine treble bite on single notes up on the neck. Both pedals have octave-like sounds, which get freaky in a hurry. The swash here though has it all over the fuzz factory, as the overtone can be made to range off into frequencies inaudible to humans. This may or may not induce seizures in some people. Another of my favorite settings of the F.F. was the highly compressed fuzz, which would squelch a note out just as it began to fade away. The Noiseswash, can also nail this cool effect. Many have spoken of the explosions of freaky theramin sounds that are liable to explode w/o notice from the FF, with the slightest tweak of a knob. The swash has taken this explosive potential of the fuzz pedal and cultivated it. What distinguishes the swash from FF in this capacity is 1) the complexity of the noises it can produce and 2) the control it offers over these noises. Where the fuzz factory can generate squeaks, growls and theramin tones, the N.S. can cover the same ground AND generate cycling noises from red alerts to jumbled quazi-scale like bleeps, to blue box like bassy synth growls. If I had it to do again, I would have my swash modded with the stomp switch into self-oscillation mode and the LFO, which would add more variability to the kinds of noise textures it produces. As it stands, there is a small flip switch control that turns the self-oscillation mode on/off. Both pedals are true bypass. Both seem exceedingly well constructed, and the customer satisfaction with both companies is beyond reproach. It is important to note here (again) that my swash was made by Mike at Prophecysound, and that this assessment is of his service and may not be indicative of the service and quality products
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