Dusky Electronics Hypatia Fuzz Overdrive Distortion Pedal
By Chris Loeffler |
Dusky Electronics Hypatia Fuzz Overdrive Distortion Pedal
Could this pedal have roots to a Greek philosopher renowned for her intellect?
by Chris Loeffler
Dusky Electronics is an amp company first and foremost, with their D₂O being one of the most unique looking (and designed) guitar amplifiers to come out in some time. As Dusky Electronics rolled out its new effects line, it was clear the “do something different” ethos was going to carry forward and be a core part of their brand. Presumably named after the first recognized woman scholar and philosopher in Greek mathematics (although the same-named first comet nucleus discovered would be an equally apt inspiration), the Hypatia is a Fuzz/OD/Distortion that began its humble design origin with the DIY Bazz Fuss circuit and quickly ballooned in features until it evolved into an utterly unique beast. The Dusky Hypatia features controls for Heat, More, Light, and Meat, true bypass switching, and is powered by a standard 9v power supply.
What You Need to Know
The Dusky Hypatia is nothing if not flexible, designed to enhance both guitar and bass sounds as well as produce vintage and modern tones. There are a lot of tricks at play (which we will get to after we cover the controls), none of which are revolutionarily different, but seldom are they brought together in a such a cohesive way in a single fuzz pedal.
The gain controls are More (Volume) and Heat (Gain) and play out the same as any standard gain device, with an amp-pushing level of output for those looking to stack their distortion stages and distortion range that earns its designation of Fuzz/Overdrive/Distortion. The More control stands alone in its function, but the Heat control not only increases the gain but also shifts the character of the gain from what I would describe as the highs and lows all the way down to the entire frequency spectrum as it is turned up.
The Meat control adjusts the low-end of the gain circuit, producing a synth-like square wave all the way up and then melting to reveal refined upper mids and highs as it is dialed back, bringing the gain closer to traditional overdrive-like character. Maybe even more so than the Heat control, the Meat control is the most effective (effected) voicing control of the Hypatia.
The Light control is an active treble control tied to the output section that pushes forward (or dials back) the high-end in a musical way that feels closer to a presence control than a standard tone filter. I found it to be the final control I tweaked when dialing the Hypatia in to different settings, and an integral part of defining how the fuzz ultimately hit the various amps I demoed it on. Like all fuzzes, there are ragged settings to be found, but I didn’t find one I couldn’t tame with the Light control.
As mentioned, there are two “non-tweakable” tricks at play that separate the Dusky Hypatia from the typical fuzz; the input and output buffers. The input buffer essentially recreates the interaction a magnetic pickup would have with the fuzz transistors when it is first in line anywhere in the signal chain to create urgency and response in the pedal whose overall effect is a more lively playing experience. The output buffer, conversely, creates the same smoothing, muscular luster of a hot tube power amp.
Dusky Electronics recommends starting the pedal with all the knobs cranked and then backing to find the sound you’re looking for, starting with gain and volume settings that best match your amplifier settings, and I agree this is a good place to start (tweak the More control first!). The reason for this is the controls are incredibly interactive, so adjustments to Heat will also slightly tweak the EQ.
The Dusky Hypatia has the character and texture of a fuzz but the presence and clarity of an overdrive, with a more pronounced mid-range than most fuzz circuits (but nowhere near the bump of a Tubescreamer). At the lowest gain settings the Hypatia produces a gritty halo around a light crunch that opens or compresses based on the input signal and your playing, on higher settings the gain shores up and focuses without getting overly compressed.
If I had to put a finger on how the Hypatia stands apart from many fuzzes, it would be in the refinement and fullness it has in nearly all settings. Especially in voicings where a fuzz circuit would typically by thin and reedy, there is enough midrange preservation to anchor the tone and give it a chance to step forward. I was able to dial in tones anywhere from a more “produced” Keeley Fuzz Head tone to a pretty dense Gilmour-like BMP sustain, but found my favorite settings were in the middle, where the input and output buffers created interactive bookends to the gain for the most dynamically responsive settings.
When using the Hypatia on bass at higher distortion settings, the lower mids are a touch less prominent than I wanted to punch through the thicker mix of a stoner rock band, but that’s generally the nature of transistor-based fuzz circuits meant to serve double-duty.
The Dusky Hypatia feels the like final statement on the standard fuzz circuit, engineered to address nearly every complaint or “quirk” of fuzz that’s popped up in forums over the last two decades… control over the lows and the highs without getting unmusically raspy, high input impedance to get past the “first in the chain” requirement we’ve all learned to live with, and an output buffer that round out the fuzz with an amp-like polish. Covering anything from glassy overdrive to wooly fuzz, there’s a lot of ground to cover for a single pedal, and I found myself hard pressed to choose where the settings would rest if it were a permanent fixture on my board. -HC-
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.