Dutch Kazoo Analog Fuzz Pedal
Price: $225 retail
It’s not easy for a new boutique overdrive or distortion pedal to stand out in today’s thick fog of clipped signals, high gains, and crunchy fuzz. After all, properly tweaked, they all can be made to sound about the same, right? This may not be a winnable argument, engaged over a cold one, no matter which side of the distorted fence you sit on. Are you a Tube Screamer or a Blues Driver? A Big Muffy or a Fuzz Face? Or perhaps you’re one of those players who will let nothing come between your pickups and your preamp tubes except naked, electromagnetic signal. In other words, it’s fair to ask, “Does the world really need yet another fuzz pedal?”
Enter into the fray the Dutch Kazoo – an all-analog OD that’s hand-assembled by C Mandel. One thing’s for sure: the Dutch Kazoo doesn’t look anything like the other pedals on your board. First, it’s beefy – as in about the size of a wah pedal. Not only that, but the pedal’s housing is made from a routed-out block of solid hardwood, capped by an .125″-thick aluminum control plate that, depending on your preference, is painted white with blue, leafy designs. Said designs might feature bats, foxes, a female Cyclops (huh?), or, as one might be more incline to expect, kazoos. Regardless, the overall effect is that of a stompbox that could withstand the constant pounding of nightly gigging and double as a piece of Delft pottery hanging on your kitchen wall. Pretty cool.
The Dutch Kazoo is a two-stage overdrive. Individual volume knobs control the relative drive of each stage, and a blend pot dials in each stage’s contribution to the signal clipping. Drive 1 seems to work mainly on the low and mid frequencies, Drive 2 the upper-mids and highs. The tone pot affects the signal from both drive stages and, unlike a lot of OD pedals, this tone control has a noticeable effect. And it’s all mercifully intuitive. The single 3DPT stomp switch is true bypass and well out of the way of the knob controls, even for size 13 shoes. The LED light, indicating the pedal is in the signal path, is easy to see even in natural sunlight, and the pedal accommodates a 9-volt battery and a Boss-style wall-wart transformer (not included).
In testing, the Dutch Kazoo was run through a variety of tube amps and one solid-state beast. The guitars used were equipped with P-90s, Fender single-coils, various humbuckers, and a set of active pickups. The first thing that one notices is that the Dutch Kazoo is unusually quiet for an OD pedal, even with both volume knobs cranked. Second, the distortion is very touch-responsive. In front of tube amps and at low gain, it brings to mind a TS808 (which was A/B’d for this test), providing noticeable crunch while maintaining the amps’ intrinsic tones. High gain resulted in Randy Rhoads fuzz, very comparable to a MXR Distortion+.
Unlike most digital effects, this analog pedal accentuates the native signal rather than reinterprets it. Some great Hendrix-like fuzz was coaxed from a Strat as the Kazoo’s volume was dialed up. An old Peavey solid-state was converted into a passable vessel for Reverend Billy Gibbons-like sermons. At the other end of the spectrum, fully dimed and with a P-90-equipped Les Paul plugged into it, the Kazoo pumped and squealed in a most appealing Neil Young/Old Black manner. For full-out metal craziness, the Dutch Kazoo probably won’t be a pedal of choice, but overall, it delivers impressive dirt of all varieties while retaining the tone of each guitar and amp.
The Dutch Kazoo is a great-sounding OD/fuzz pedal. Could the same tones be summoned with other pedals or combinations? Probably. But how often will you get the chance to kick in fuzz tones by stomping on something that looks like it came out of your mother’s china cabinet?
This article originally appeared in VG March 2014 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.