Fuzz wahs are nothing new, of course. Released under scores of badge-engineered monikers, they’ve promised aural overload ranging from sirens to tornadoes. Problem is, most have sounded like novelty toys – funky and great for party tricks, but that’s about it.
Area 51’s Fuzzwah changes that. This pedal can make the weird sounds, sure, but they’re glorious; far-out wah, buttery fuzz, and any combo of the two.
Dan Albrecht has been building “standard” wah pedals for a number of years – rocker pedals that have garnered rave reviews. He also makes a simple-but-killer fuzz box with many an acolyte. Why not meld the two into one?
Albrecht added extra boost to his standard wah circuitry, which in turn added character to the tone depending on where the foot treadle was set. That extra gain stage powers the amp’s preamp. The added gain smooths out the sweep of the wah, so depending on the rock of the foot, the Fuzzwah can produce incredibly subtle shifts or downright massive ones.
Further, this isn’t a frog covered in warts of dials, controls, and switches: it’s a simple, solid wah with a single dial. And, Area 51’s build quality is superlative – important with a pedal that gets a lot of footwork.
The ultimate glory here is you get three effects in one. Turn off the fuzz and use it as a regular wah; leave your foot off the go pedal and just let the fuzz work its magic; or combine the two for an infinite array of sounds that change as quickly as you pick and rock your hoof.
Morley built one of the most famous – and truly usable – fuzz wahs back in the day, beloved of players from Jerry Garcia to Metallica’s Cliff Burton. But no one has perfected the effects amalgamation like Area 51.
This article originally appeared in VG January 2018 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.