Dave Fox’s new electronics company, Foxrox, recently hit the market with its Captain Coconut pedal. While most of the interest in the pedal has been through word of mouth, the buzz has been strong, with an increasing amount of inquiries to check out the pedal. VG was lucky enough to scoop up one of the recently-revised Captain Coconut pedals up for a test drive.
Dave Fox is no stranger to the musical instrument industry, having spent years working a full-time gig for a well-known manufacturer of audio products. His Foxrox Electronics company was started as a side business, but may eventually become the sole focus of his attention.
Taking its name from the last track on Hendrix’s Crash Landing album, the Captain Coconut pedal was designed to provide the three most popular Hendrix-type effects – octave, vibe, and fuzz – in one unit. One thing that separates the Captain Coconut from typical multieffects units is that it is totally analog and incorporates faithful reproductions of the original circuits used in vintage effects like the Tycobrahe Octavia, Unicord Univibe, and Dallas-Arbiter FuzzFace, with minor alterations done to improve the performance and cut down on noise. While the Foxrox pedal is strictly analog, many multieffects processors on the market today are digital and strive to emulate the sounds of the original pedals through DSP modelers.
“I did some fine-tuning to the FuzzFace, Octavia, and Univibe circuits to get the best out of these effects,” explains Fox. “One main goal was to get rid of some of the ‘shortcomings’ inherent to these vintage effects. By putting them all on one circuit board running off of one main power supply, which is super-filtered, noise is brought to an absolute minimum. In addition, using high-quality components throughout the circuitry helps minimize hiss and noise.”
The Captain Coconut pedal is as simple to use as three separate stompboxes (in fact, the FuzzFoot pedal can be purchased as a separate unit, and the two other effects may soon be available separately). Master In and Out jacks are used for standard operation. However, each pedal also has its own individual input and output jacks so a player can use each effect separately and/or change the order of the routing for use with other effects. Additionally, each pedal has its own true bypass on/off stomp switch and an LED to show operation status (Octave = yellow, Provibe = red, FuzzFoot = green).
The controls are very straightforward and grouped so its easy to see which operate each effect. The Octave section has Volume and Drive controls. The Provibe, which offers the most control of the three, includes Volume, Width, Center (works with the Width control to adjust the bias of the “off-center” wobble), Speed, and a Chorus/Vibrato switch. Additionally, a separate jack is included to plug in a pedal for external operation of the Speed control (Foxrox recommends using a passive stereo volume pedal like those available from Dunlop or Ernie Ball, but wiring info is also included in the manual for having a pedal custom wired). The FuzzFoot has three controls for Volume, Grit and Drive.
For a Hendrix/Trower-type demo, we plugged a ’65 Strat into a late-’60s Marshall 100-watt plexi and two 4×12 basketweave cabs. For the Jimmy Page side of things, we switched to a ’59 Reissue Les Paul. The first thing we noticed was the distinct difference in the noise levels between the original pedals and the Captain Coconut, which is considerably quieter.
As for the sounds, the effects seemed to be voiced very closely to those of the classic boxes, which is most likely because of similar components. The Provibe was our hands-down favorite, producing a very lush and deep effect in the chorus and vibrato settings. The effects can be set for subtle or more saturated sounds and by tweaking the controls, the speed, width, and spread can be very easily adjusted to match the song you’re playing. If it’s made available separately, it will likely outsell the fuzz and octave effects, and may even top sales of any of the other “vibe” effects currently on the market.
The types of fuzz sounds that each player prefers are subjective, so the FuzzFoot may not be voiced to suit everyone’s personal tastes, which was also the case with the original FuzzFace units, where different people prefer different versions of the pedal (Germanium vs. Silicon transistors – the FuzzFoot uses PNP Germanium transistors). The sounds produced by the FuzzFoot are also dependent on the amp that you’re playing through and it may not match up as well with the inherent characteristics of certain amps.
In addition to our Marshall stack, we tested it through a smaller 50-watt Marshall combo amp with 1×12 and a late-’70s Fender Twin Reverb. It sounded far better through the 100-watt Marshall and 4x12s because of the treble boost associated with the effect. The combo seemed too confined, while the 4x12s produced a more ambient sound that provided a better pairing in conjunction with the effect. The Fender Twin’s sound needed a bit more EQ, but it sounded better than the Marshall combo. Still, the Marshall stack was the best match.
The same was true of the Octave pedal. And one very cool thing we noticed when using the FuzzFoot with either of the two guitars was that we were able to turn down the guitar’s volume control to get a clean sound without loss of its tonal quality, then turn it up to achieve the full power of the effect.
The Octave effect was practically identical to our recollection of the original Octavia pedal. The fuzz sound is very saturated, even at the lower drive settings. As the Drive level is increased, the amount of “sizzle” is also increased, but the octave sounds become less noticeable. The best actual upper-octave tones are achieved when the Drive is set at the minimum.
Although some may squawk at the $399 price tag, consider the Captain Coconut pedal is essentially three separate units. If you bought each separately, you’d likely pay far more. If you’re into the sounds of the original boxes, or if you like the sounds, but couldn’t get past the noise, then we recommend taking the Captain Coconut pedal for a spin.
The pedal isn’t yet readily available through local music shops, so contact Foxrox directly for more information on availability. Some artists who have recently purchased their own Captain Coconut pedals are Ronnie Montrose, Tracii Guns of L.A. Guns and A.J. Dunning of the Verve Pipe.
Foxrox Captain Coconut
Type Of Effect: Analog Multieffects Pedal
Features: Octave/fuzz effect with controls for Volume and Drive; Provibe effect with controls for Volume, Width, Center, Speed and a Chorus/Vibrato mode selector switch, speed pedal input jack for optional control pedal; FuzzFoot effect with controls for Volume, Grit and Drive; three individual true bypass on/off stomp switches (one for each effect); LED status-indicator lights; individual inputs and outputs for each effect; operates on AC power only
Contact: Foxrox, 14 Morgan Court, Wayne, NJ 07470, phone/fax (973) 872-8951, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.foxroxelectronics.com
This review originally appeared in VG‘s Feb. ’01 issue.