Source Audio Kingmaker Fuzz Effect Pedal
By Chris Loeffler |
Source Audio Kingmaker Fuzz Effect Pedal
Three classic fuzz tones, remastered
by Chris Loeffler
Fuzz (and distortion in general) has been the sonic tool that’s taken the longest to make a credible leap to the digital world. Primitive circuits with rudimentary breakup seems to be hard to re-create in the digital realm, especially the dynamic response and interaction players experience between their pickups and a gain circuit. That said, modeling has come a long way, and a few digitally created, gain-based effects have been popping up lately that can hold their own against their analog inspirations. Enter Source Audio, a collection of effects designers with more than a decade of leading the software path for stompbox effects.
The Source Audio Kingmaker features controls for Drive, Level, Bass, and Treble, a three-position mode switch, stereo inputs and outputs, and a 9V power jack. Similar to the other Source Audio One Series pedals we’ve reviewed (Source Audio Nemesis Delay and Mercury Flanger), the Kingmaker Fuzz is compatible with the Neuro App for deep editing and access to additional sounds.
What You Need to Know
Out of the box, the Source Audio Kingmaker Fuzz has three different flavors of fuzz, selectable by a three-way toggle. Each of these fuzz tones (Heavy, Normal, and Octave) is the tonal equivalent of a classic fuzz type, which I’ll address individually. The Treble and Bass controls work effectively as a post-EQ; they're more about carving the distortion’s shape. High end is often the weakest point in digital distortion, but not so in the Kingmaker…even extreme treble settings add brightness without noise or harsh fizz.
The Heavy setting is clearly in the Big Muff Pi (BMP) world, with articulate, thick fuzz and nearly infinite sustain. The body is fuller than some scooped variants of the BMP, and there’s a cutting midrange. While I mean this in the best way possible, the Heavy setting is incredibly consistent and more reliable than any BMP I’ve played without sounding artificial. It maintains the texture and response of a BMP with an additional level of polish.
The Normal setting, Source Audio’s take on a classic Fuzz Face voicing, hit the marks for what I expect from a Fuzz Face - extremely responsive to changes in input volume, thick and bold in high-gain settings, and raspy yet defined at low-gain settings. Changing pickups and playing with the volume and tone controls of your guitar yields dozens of flavors of gain. The Normal setting certainly surprised me the most because of how much it felt and sounded like a classic ge/si Fuzz Face.
The Octave setting is a pure Octavio effect with a dirty grit of analog doubling that is dead-on in its vintage flavor. The Bass and Treble controls are particularly useful in creating something new from something old, dialing in the presence and body in ways not possible in the analog circuit. Lastly, for those who’ve played through analog octave effects, the octave effect is significantly more consistent and forgiving. The sound is pure analog grind, but it doesn’t struggle as much to spit out the octave.
Using Source Audio’s Neuro App gives access to 40 other distortion settings via the Neuro App, which you can download to your phone or tablet. The App also provides expanded tone and volume options, including multiple bands of Mid control (especially helpful for live performances where fuzz can sometimes get lost if too scooped). These other effects, such as the Rat and the Tone Bender MKII, further flesh out the sonic options, and can be assigned over any of the three presets on the pedal itself.
Switching among the fuzzes requires flicking a small toggle switch, so don’t count on jumping between fuzzes mid-song.
The Source Audio Kingmaker Fuzz sounds and feels like the analog fuzzes it seeks to emulate, capturing the richness and quirks of classic effects while correcting some of the unpredictability inherent in the analog circuitry required to produce the effect. Some purists may decry the minimization of the unpredictability as removing a part of what makes that effect special, but one would be hard pressed to claim the effects didn’t sound or play faithfully when compared to the originals. Three great-sounding fuzzes (well, forty-three, if you count the Neuro app), with an incredibly powerful EQ section and true-stereo ins and outs for under $200, will likely appeal to a lot of people.
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.