Jump to content

Sound Quality

I use a tele with a DM2, BD2, Rat2, EH Frequency Analyser and either this pedal or an MXR Blue Box. This pedal is legendary for alternative guitarists and avant-garde musicians. The advertising campaign said "no it's not broken - it's supposed to sound like that!" Legend dictates that it was designed by Buzz from the Melvins, although it's not quite true. It was based on his MXR Blue Box/RAT sound, but he didn't design it. The Buzz Box is a loud distortion and the psychotic octave that doesn't track. As you turn up the heavy knob you get more and more octave - from a slight overtone, right through to a burbling sound like a volcano erupting... The Octave noise gate fizzes and makes clicking sounds, the synthy octave jumps randomly from 1 octave down, 2 octaves down or no octave at all, depending how it feels at the time. The distortion fizzes and the octave jumps around behind you when you play leads. Play a chord and it's like an icepick in your ear. It sounds like a blown speaker, or a truck running you over. It's loud and nasty - but everyone knows that, and it's the whole point of this pedal. This pedal is very cool to get horrid noises. On guitars it's useful for Sonic Youth noiseouts, in electronic music it's good for Squarepusher or Aphex Twin type interludes. Turn it on and make the soundman hate you. Turn it off and you're back to your normal sound. The audience will wonder what on earth happened there?


DOD pedals are quite reliable. The box is metal, only the switch is plastic. I've had loads of DOD pedals and none of them have died, although sometimes you have to be handy with a soldering iron. On the other hand very few guitarists actually USE their buzz box's, preferring to hoard them as collectors items, so they tend to be in immaculate condition mint in the box when you get them. The most annoying thing about DOD pedals is the different power supply to Boss type, so you need to use either a second power supply, or a battery. Take the battery cover off and keep it somewhere safe or you'll loose it very soon.

General Comments

I play nofi rock or make experimental noise in my room with feedback loops and a four track. I've used a DOD Grunge pedal for years to get horrible noises. It's stupidly over the top but not scooped mids like most "metal" pedals, so it stands out in the mix. If I want to play the Roobarb and Custard theme, or sound like a chainsaw chopping down an oak tree I use my trusty Grunge. The distortion in the Buzz Box is very similar to the Grunge. I also used an MXR Blue Box for the octave sound and thought I didn't need a buzz box because with a Grunge pedal AND a Blue Box together you can get just about all of the sounds of the Buzz Box, so it's debatable whether anyone need pay all that money for this rare pedal at all. To compare them: In the Buzz Box the distortion and Octave are in parallel (not series) so the octave is that little bit more disconnected, a little weirder. Plus of course you can turn both the distortion and octave on with one stomp, and also the Buzz Box is far rarer and therefore cooler to other guitar snobs. The Buzz Box isn't so heavily gated as the Blue Box and so it just destroys any signal that goes into it and feedsback like crazy. Which is good. The Blue Box has a warmer sound on it's own and is more musical, despite some volume and noise gating issues. I'm debating which one to keep because there's very little between them, they are near identical. To sum up: Buy a Grunge and an MXR Blue Box and you'll have a DIY Buzz Box and you don't need to pay all that money for the real deal. But the Buzz Box is still waaay cooler.


Back to the Buzz Box review: everyone who'd want one knows what it sounds like. It's horrible, and it does it rather well. It works as a sound source for noise music and it's a lot of fun. Having the real deal is better than Blue Box/grunge imitation I described, and this is the most disgusting pedal I've heard: forget the Fender Blender, Shin Ei Fuzz Box, the Fuzz Factory - this is genuine hell on toast. It makes all those look like a nice Disney movie. No real musical value, but it's good to keep handy. It tends to be an unpredictable beast, so having a sampler on hand is useful because you're unlikely to get the same thing twice. You can always keep it on your board to scare people, wake them up if they look like they are losing interest in your music, or inflict pain on the unappreciative audience only here to see the other band. Most people will turn it on at the end of the set to make a big din, and walk off stage with feedback ringing behind them.

The Buzz Box is the most horrid and out of control pedal ever made, and it's well worth getting if you see one. Lots of fun. It's by no means essential, but if you play noise, you'll probably already have at least one. An MXR Blue Box is a much cheaper and more reliable alternative.

  • Create New...