There was one mission at hand this month here at Analog War Cry, and that was to bring you cats as much killer gear as we could get our hands on. Well strap in to your chair, grab your reading glasses, and get ready for a class in Tone 101. The top notch gear continues here with the good people at Fairfield Circuitry, and if you haven't heard of this company I highly suggest you pay attention. Fairfield Circuitry is the brainchild of one Guillaume Fairfield, a highly talented cat with slick ear for producing great sounding pedals. It was about a year ago that I had came across the Fairfield Circuitry website, instantly I was impressed. There was a vibe to their gear/website that automatically drew me in and had me hooked, even before I got my hands on one of their pedals. It was the simplicity and straight forward design of their pedals that said to me, "These cats are all business and no gimmicks." It would be a while before I would actually land a Fairfield Circuitry pedal in my studio, until that day came I had to get my Fairfield fix from Youtube demos, reviews, and online audio bites. As I continued to do more research on Fairfield Circuitry I discovered that there were more pedal designs in the works, designs that were beginning to sound like real winners. I also noticed their first pedal the Barbershop overdrive was beginning to build quite a reputation for itself, everywhere I looked someone had something remarkable to say about this pedal. It was time for me to put the "pedal to the metal" and get my hands on one of these bad boys. So after a long but worth while wait we here at Analog War Cry are proud to present to you the super hip, fantastic sounding, and always classy Barbershop overdrive. What this pedal has been able to do for me in the short time I've had it is absolutely stunning... STUNNING I TELL YOU!!!
*Drive: Sets the interstage gain of the amplifiers. More gain means more distortion. The wide operating range allows you to go from an almost clean gain to a tasty rich overdrive.
*SAG: The Sag control reduces the voltage to the amplifiers as you turn it counter clockwise, giving additional control over the character and feel of the saturation. The lower the Sag, the browner the sound. Full voltage is applied when the control is set fully clockwise. It is at this setting that the pedal has the potential to be it's cleanest and loudest.
*Volume: Controls the output volume of the pedal while keeping the effect unchanged. This is where you have plenty of room to boost.
*Power: The Barbershop Overdrive can be powered by either a 9V battery or a typical 9V AC/DC adapter (9Vdc / center negative)
Engaged 5 mA
45 Hz - 45 kHz +/- dB
So here it is, the pedal I have been dying to feature on our site ever since I first discovered it, The Fairfield Circuitry Barbershop Overdrive. From the second I plugged into this pedal I knew this was no ordinary overdriver, the sound, flexibility, and most important the feel was unlike anything I have ever heard from a stomopbox. I felt it in my hands, literally felt the amount of control I had over my tone in my fingertips. This is nothing but a true, honest to god, tone sculpting power house of a stompbox. For those of us who spend the time giving our sound the attention of a lifetime, there is nothing better than discovering a gadget that can help us pull out the dream tones that live within our heads. I mean at the end of the day that's what it's all about, dialing in a kickass tone to rock the house with right? If you have ever sat there tweaking an amp to no end, switching guitars, pickups, and miking techniques just to find that perfect sound, you will absolutely appreciate a pedal like the Barbershop Overdrive. This is a pedal that works with your pickups, amps, and guitars, helping them sound-off to their fullest potential. The Barbershop latches onto everything that is good about your tone and blows it up into a wall of golden tone. It wraps itself around your guitar and let's you control where you want the sound to go. Niether inside nor outside will you find a magic switch or secret knob on this pedal, there is no ground breaking technology hype surrounding it, nor does it sport rows of blinking lights to distract you from what it's job is. The Barbershop is a straight up 100% original intelligently designed stompbox, built to stand and deliver, and that's that! At first look you wouldn't think this pedal was capable of so much, with only three knobs and a switch. But I'll tell you something, it's three little knobs can be quite astounding, quite deceiving, and very powerful. The Barbershop's layout consists of a Drive knob, Sag knob, and Volume knob, it runs off of either a 9V battery or 9Vdc center negative adapter, and it is housed in a heavy duty built for war enclosure. The knobs, enclosure finish, super bright LED, and engraved markings give it a look as if it came from the set of Mad Max, rugged and ready for battle. On the bottom of the pedal you will find an extra tuff slip proof pad that keeps the pedal in place, a nice touch if you ask me. Everything else about this pedal is what it can do, what it sounds like, and why you will fall in love with it. Ladies and gents, I introduce to you the Barbershop. Shall we?
The First contender to go up against the Barbershop was Black Dog, my semi-hollow body, duel humbucker equipped, 335 style guitar. I plugged into my modified 4x10 Deville, set the amp clean, and plugged into a pair of Core One Bullet Cables. I set the Barbershop's Drive knob just a hair passed zero, turned the Sag knob all the way up to get full voltage, and set the Volume knob to push the amp just a tad bit louder. Bypassed the sound was bright, perfectly balanced, and squeaky clean. Then I stomped on the pedal and something sweet happened, something I didn't expect from this pedal. I noticed the Barbershop livened the amp's natural sound in a way that EQ and comp pedals do, and it did it without changing the amplifiers character. It's kind of hard to explain what it did exactly but it was as if it sharpened/polished up the edges, like a slightly out of focus picture that gets set clear. This is great for those amp's that just won't give it up. Just to see if the Barbershop would do this with one of my other amps I went ahead and pulled out one of my 2nd choice units. It took no less than a few minutes to get a usable, gig friendly, session friendly tone. As a matter of fact I went ahead and wrote down the setting for future use. As I rolled up the pedal's Volume knob I began to noticed just how powerful this pedal really was. This my friends is where the fun began, where the screaming and a howling came to life. I recently put new speakers in my Deville, two Jensen Jet Series Blackbird 100watt alnicos, and two Jensen Jet Series Tornado 100watt Neodymium speakers. The new speakers have given my amp an entire new world of possibilities, and along with the mod I had done to the tone circuit it has become my favorite amplifier for everything. One thing that was tuff when I first swapped in the speakers was re-dialing in my pedal settings to match the amp's new sound, you'd be surprised just how much of an affect a speaker swap can have on your pedal settings. With the Barbershop I had absolutely no problem finding what I wanted, it instantly attached itself to all of the amp's strengths and enhanced everything in just the right places. To darken up the sound all I had to do was turn the Sag down, this took the tone into a classic rock/brown sound that had my amp grinding like a mad man. Something I really dug about this pedal was the ability to use the volume knob to push your natural sound, and the Sag to dial in either a hint or a bunch of break-up. With the Barbershop's volume turned up all the way, the Sag at about noon, and the amp set just right, I was able to get a perfect classic Santana tone. My amp exploded with heavenly sustain, rich distortion, and grade A harmonics. It was beautiful! This was all before I even incorporated the Drive knob too, but before we get to the Drive knob I'd like to talk about another awesome use for this pedal. If ever there was a pedal that played well with others it would have to be the Barbershop. In my gigging pedalboard I use a couple of different boosters and overdrivers to get my boosts and grit tones. I threw the Barbershop into the mix along with one of my favorite distortion pedals and the out come was oh so lovely! So not only can this pedal work with your amps, pickups, and speakers, but it can also work to enhance and bring to life your other stompboxes. This was like having an entire new collection of overdrive and distortion pedals. Both before and after other pedals the Barbershop sounded splendid. With a simple booster set in front of it I was able to get a perfect tube melting rock tone, straight up 1960's rock tone all the way. Combined with another overdrivers I was able to get some hot-rodded, in your face, lead tones. The pedal is also wah friendly and works super when played along with compressors. It was time to hear what the Barbershop was capable of doing through single soils so I took Lady out of her case (my Custom Tele) and tuned her up. Now I mixed in the Drive knob, and combined with the many settings I was able to get with the Sag and Volume controls alone my tone choices were endless. First I set screaming lead tone and flipped into Lady's bridge pickup. The Sag was at about 50%, Drive at 75%, and Volume I rolled in until it matched my amp's overall level. I was now plugged into my 15/7 watt amp head and 2x12 cab. I believe the Barbershop may have even sounded better through a low watt amplifier. I chopped away at some lead runs and was stoked at how much control my picking had in the overall feel of the dirt. To me the best kind of dirt tones are the ones that you're able to manipulate with your playing, these are always the tones you can get the best performances from when recording or playing live gigs. This is the best way to define what kind of pedal the Barbershop is, how it works, and how it feels. This pedal produces sounds you can truly play and not sounds that play you. As I began to try different Drive levels I noticed I was beginning to fall in love with the Sag knob. You can literally set your drive just where you want it and with the Sag knob control whether you want your sound bright, dark, strong, or subtle. It also works the other way, you can dial in the amount of voltage you want with the Sag knob, and set the Drive to deliver as much or as little aggression as you want. One thing I must say about this pedal is that it was able to hand me a sound I have been hunting for ever since I learned what rock and roll was, the sound I imagined rocking out to when I first started playing the guitar. I've always been the type of player that goes for works best, and for me it has always been amps driven by boosters and overdrive pedals. Not to say I don't love the sound of a great overdriven amplifier, but for my playing and picking style I have always dug the sound of a pedal pushing a hot tube amp. I am super excited to have Fairfield Circuitry as part of the Analog War Cry family and proud to say that the Barbershop Overdrive now lives on my board and is a part of my overall root sound. I'm stoked to say that because if this pedal I have been able to cut down on two pedals from my pedalboard, this has left room for god knows what, maybe the new fuzz pedal that Fairfield Circuitry has in works. I'll tell you this much, I cannot wait to see what Guillaume's idea of a fuzz box sounds like, if it's as rockin' as the Barbershop (which I'm sure it will be) it is going to rock our worlds. Thanks for the wonderful tones Guillaume, and keep up the great work!