Since the dawn of rock and roll, guitarists have (by accident or with intent) loosened tubes, sliced, or poked holes in their speakers to get low-fi natural distortion – think Link Wray’s “Rumble,” or early Kinks singles like “You Really Got Me.” Ike Turner’s “Rocket 88” was recorded with an amp that had fallen out of the van, resulting in damage that caused a fuzzy signal. A happy accident, indeed.
Electro-Harmonix has re-created the early sound of distortion with its Ripped Speaker, a fuzz box designed to deliver those desirable, grungy tones.
The pedal has four knobs – Tone and Volume, plus Fuzz and Rip. As you’d expect, Fuzz controls the amount of fuzz from light to heavy. Rip is the secret sauce; a bias control in disguise, it shapes the fuzz tone and controls the amount of clipping. Turning it counterclockwise darkens signal with pronounced lows. Adjusting it clockwise offers brighter tone with more highs. Deft use will also render a sputtering “dying battery” sound, useful in certain musical situations.
Hooked up to a vintage tube amp with a Les Paul, the Ripped Speaker accurately achieved the tones of yore, from mild distortion to balls-out grunge. And yes, it nailed Dave Davies’ “You Really Got Me” sound.
This article originally appeared in VG’s September 2022 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.