Stone Deaf Kliptonite, Fig Fumb, PDF-2 & Trashy Blonde pedal review

Did someone say Stone Deaf? After a few days with four feisty Brit stompers, Richard Purvis isn’t far off…

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There’s a boutique stompbox boom going on, and it isn’t happening only in America. Indie makers on this side of the pond are also doing their bit to bring some quirky colour to the world’s pedalboards, and Stone Deaf’s Oldham-built units are every bit as intriguing on the inside as they are brassy on the outside – just ask Josh Homme, a fan of the Stone Deaf PDF-1.

On review here are four pedals, all with an element of distortion/fuzz involved. Each has dual footswitches, an expression pedal input and parametric EQ controls: a recipe for much more flexibility than the average filth generator.

Kliptonite

SDK

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This lurid green stompbox sets the tone with its chunky build, retro sci-fi graphics and unconventional controls. It’s an overdrive and fuzz in one, with a mirror mix knob that gives you the option of blending the two and switching between `mostly drive’ and `mostly fuzz’. The top-left control lets you cut or boost the signal over a limited range, which is set by the frequency dial and five-way bandwidth switch.

The overdrive is as smooth and furry as the fuzz is wild and sputtery, yet they’re both likeable sounds. It’s a pity you can’t set different gain levels for the two channels, or tone down the vicious gating effect on the fuzz, but the parametric EQ circuit allows a huge range of voicings for both. And if you have an expression pedal (or a dextrous foot to play with the frequency control), the Kliptonite goes even further: at minimum bandwidth and maximum cut, you can get something like a phaser effect, and at full boost it’s somewhere between a wah and a malfunctioning death ray.

Key features
• Price £165
• Description Two-channel parametric fuzz/drive pedal, made in UK
• Controls Cut/boost, balance, frequency, mirror mix, fuzzy drive, five-way rotary bandwidth switch, channel and bypass footswitches
• Features TRS expression pedal input for frequency control, true bypass, powered by 9v battery or DC adaptor (not supplied)
• Dimensions 156mm(d)x113mm(w)x78mm(h)
• Contact 01706 882486
www.stonedeaffx.com
Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 16.08.16

Fig Fumb

SDFF

Odd name, eh? Stone Deaf says it’s an anagram, but we’re stumped. Bug Miff? Mig Buff? In fact, as you can probably guess by the number of controls, the Fig Fumb is way more versatile than Electro-Harmonix’s best-loved fuzzbox. It does start out in the same ballpark, though: compared to the spitting, squelching Kliptonite this is a much more musical kind of fuzz. And this time, as there’s no second channel to worry about, you do get a threshold control for the noise gate – plus the option of bypassing it completely.

The Fig Fumb might never get quite as silky as a vintage Big Muff, but it’s not far off; and while the complex inter-dependency of all those controls can take a while to master, a fair approximation of pretty much every classic fuzz tone you can imagine is in here somewhere. That does include Fuzz Factory-style `Velcro’ noises at some settings – and not always the settings you’d expect – but at heart this is a more manageable beast than its sibling the Kliptonite. And yes, it also does the phaser/wah/death-ray thing.

Key features
• Price £175
• Description Parametric high-gain fuzz pedal, made in UK
Controls Cut/boost, balance, frequency, gate, fuzz, five-way rotary bandwidth switch, gate on/off and bypass footswitches
• Features TRS expression pedal input for frequency control, true bypass, powered by 9v battery or DC adaptor (not supplied)
• Dimensions 156mm(d)x113mm(w)x78mm(h)
Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 16.08.26

PDF-2

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This one’s slightly smaller than the other three, so you get only four controls and there’s no room for a side-mounted battery compartment – you have to unscrew the base instead. Queens Of The Stone Age star Josh Homme apparently uses two PDF-1s in place of his old Maestro MPF-1 parametric filter. He might need to pop back to Oldham for an upgrade, because the PDF-2 is claimed to be less noisy as well as more versatile than the original.

It’s all about EQ filtering and overdrive, and while the controls can initially be confusing, they run on the same principles as the two fuzzes. On the clean channel, with bandwidth set to max, you can get something like a full-frequency boost by cranking the height control; tighten up the bandwidth and the frequency dial comes into play, allowing you to apply extreme cut or boost to any frequency range. Switching channels brings the gain control into the equation; this ranges from beefy medium-gain overdrive to something not far short of full-on fuzz.

Key features
• Price £139
• Description Two-channel EQ, boost and overdrive pedal, made in UK
• Controls Height, gain, frequency, five-way rotary bandwidth switch, channel and bypass footswitches
• Features TRS expression pedal input for frequency control, true bypass, powered by 9v battery or DC adaptor (not supplied)
• Dimensions 150mm(d)x90mm(w)x77mm(h)
Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 16.08.38

Trashy Blonde

SDTB

If you’ve ever found your amp to be too clean and polite then the Trashy Blonde is just the ticket. This is raucous, JMP and JCM800-style British overdrive and distortion that some may find initially a little ferocious in the high end.

However, thanks to those unorthodox but limitlessly flexible controls – including a handy clean/dirty mix knob – it can be as thin, fat, bright or soft-edged as you like. In the mood for something subtle? Set the cut/boost control just a twitch away from noon, tweak the frequency dial to find the range you want to play with, then use the bandwidth switch to select the focus of the effect.

This works even better on the clean channel – despite some slight reservations about the noise floor, you might well use the Trashy Blonde as an always-on EQ improver to correct a dull, honky or spiky guitar, with the ability to switch in some fearsome distortion as an additional bonus. You might even find that it kicks two existing pedals off your board or acts as a `Marshalliser’ in combination with a blackface Fender amp.

Key features
• Price £165
• Description Two-channel parametric distortion pedal, made in UK
• Controls Cut/boost, balance, frequency, mix, trash, five-way rotary bandwidth switch, channel and bypass footswitches
Features TRS expression pedal input for frequency control, true bypass, powered by 9v battery or DC adaptor (not supplied)
• Dimensions 156mm(d)x113mm(w)x78mm(h)
Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 16.08.49
www.stonedeaffx.com

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