Monday, January 25, 2010

Top Finds of 2009 / DenTone Bolthead Fuzz

DenTone Pedals

Some cats build effect pedals as a hobby, some for themselves and friends, and then there's cats like Dennis Menard who do it full force and straight from the soul. Dennis is the mastermind behind the Fuzz Box World websites and DenTone pedal line. I had been keeping a close eye on Dennis's work for about a good year or so when I said to myself, "That's it, I've gotta get my hands on some of these stompboxes". Every time I came across a new review of one of his pedals it was the same thing, either someone commented on the sound, build quality, or wide range of tones that were possible. Another source of information on the DenTone pedal line was Dennis's fuzzboxworld's Youtube channel. Every few weeks a new video demo of one of his creations would show up and blow my mind. You may have seen these demos for pedals such as the Ana Nicole Fuzz, Freaktone Fuzz, 900 Pound Violin, Alien Hate Fuzz, and Pamela Anderson Fuzz. Besides a stunning collection of original DenTone designs Dennis also delves into some of the past's most favored gems, like the Tone Bender Pro mkII, Burns Buzzaround, Marshall Supa Fuzz, Fuzz Face, and Sola Sound Tone Bender. If you're a pedal freak like myself a pedal company like DenTone is an absolute dream. Along with guitar pedals you'll also find cigar box guitars, cigar box guitar preamps, cigar box amps, and an array of stompbox DIY kits. When the tickle begins and has you running out looking for killer gear, the Fuzz Box World website and DenTone Pedals line are a perfect remedy for the itch.

DenTone Pedals
Barre, VT
Builder: Dennis Menard
Years in the Game: 5

Fuzz Pedal

* Silicon transistor design
* 1/4 inch Neutrik audio jacks
* EHX 3PDT blue footswitch
* Alpha 16mm potentiometer
* High grade tubular metalized polymer capacitors
* Low noise gain selected transistors
* Stranded and solid core pvc insulated wires
* Point to point
* Hard plastic 9V battery snap
* Heavy duty aluminum pointer knob
* Made in the USA on verboard
* Diecast aluminum bulletproof box
* Custom drawstring cloth storage bag


This pedal has been an absolute treat! For a long long time we had been super curious to put some of the DenTone pedals through their, now we got the chance. My dear readers I introduce to you the DenTone Pedals Bolthead Fuzz Pedal. This hand built, high quality, tone monster of a box was easily one of the baddest stompboxes to come through here in 09. The reason for this? It's insanely crazy good sound, killer live use ability, and simple layout/number of tones. Taking a close look at the Bolthead you'll notice there is nothing about it that doesn't scream boutique quality and class. The Bolthead is of the silicon species fuzz box, this helps give the pedal a cleaner, clearer, and more aggressive fuzz tone. The pedal uses only the best components possible and is all assembled by hand in the good ol' USA. The carefully and slickly spec'd out design of this pedal assures the fuzz sound will be loud'n'tasty. For a pedal with only one knob I was surprised to find how many different charactered fuzz sounds were possible. One of the ways this pedal is so versatile is how it works with different pickup models. Playing the Bolthead through a pair of buckers was totally different from the way it sounded through a stack of Strat single coils. Every guitar I ran the pedal through worked beautifully, and every level setting I dished out produced great quality, highly usable tones. All fuzz pedals have that one sweet spot we love to hunt down, that one sound that just shines from the your amp creating a invincible wave of soul and vision. The Bolthead is not this breed of fuzz box. You won't find just one sweet spot on this pedal, instead you'll come across many. I think this was Dennis's plan when he designed this one knob monster.

Our first goal with the Bolthead was to get some old school, screaming at gods, "lord have mercy" lead tones. In the description of the Bolthead on the Fuzz Box World website it says this pedal works wonders for live, high volume, lead work. We found this to be exactly this type of pedal. We set up a Super Lead with a flat eq, bridged the channels, and dialed it in slightly dirty. Oh momma mia! The sound that came blowing out of the amp was pure rock & roll heaven. What was before the amp's natural crunchy overdrive sound was now a razor sharp beast from beyond. It was like being thrown back in time, the notes all screaming and howling like psychedelic rock demons. If you dig the sounds of all the 60's and 70's greats (which I'm sure you do) you will dig this pedal to no end. I could easily take any string/note, shake it, and morph it into whatever deranged fuzz sound I wanted it to be. The sound of the fuzz from this pedal bleeds out just perfectly not ever becoming too brittle or over the top, and hanging in the air just long enough to let the next coming note, riff, or chord jolt the player into a rush of inspiration. What more could you want from a lead tone? This is exactly what I look for when bringing you guys these articles and exactly what I need as a player and performer. Nothing goes past a product that can produce the want to create. I turned up the Bolthead's single knob and things got louder, more extreme, and dead smack in your face. The stayed intact, not getting too harsh, and letting the dynamics of my playing come through evenly. Dennis's goal to create a pedal that could cut through any mix was definitely achieved with this badboy. A lot of the time I like to demo pedals while jamming with the band or with friends, especially when it's a fuzz box. The boys and I kicked into a meaty heavy blues jam and let the Bolthead do it's thing. The thick overdrive tone of the other guitar laid back in the mix while the Bolthead when to town pushing out a war of sound. You get this image of biting teeth when you play through this pedal, aggression like no other. But unlike other aggressive fuzz pedals that can become ugly when pushed into high levels, the Bolthead holds it's own. There is still beautiful quality to the timbre of the fuzz even when pushed, spanked, and played loud. I was even able to get some semi-clean notes out of this pedal by just brushing the pick along the strings. This is a sign of great work and great components. It is very clear how Dennis built this pedal to work. The one knob on board let's you work your hands and guitar around how the fuzz effect reacts. It's the way fuzz should work, as a tool to shape what's brewing in your mind. With the guitar's tone knob at full blast, which is how most cats play their guitars, the fuzz tone is full sparkling highs and brutal mids. To warm things up and get a rounder sound you just shave off some highs by using your guitar's tone knob. I was even able to get some badass 70's punk/alternative rock tones by rolling down the guitar's volume. What does this mean? This means this is the perfect fuzz pedal for live use, rhythm guitar tones, and gritty overdrive sounds. You can set the pedal for your lead tone, roll it back and play your rhythms, then when you're ready to howl just flip that volume knob to 100%. This first run I played the Bolthead through a Stratocaster, which as you just read sounded wonderful with it. Now it was time for some humbucker city madness, to see just powerful a sound I could get. I strapped on the semi-hollow body, switched into the Deville amp set to a sparkling clean, and let the pedal work it's magic. I started by strumming down on some pretty guitar chords, listening to all of the clarity and shimmer. Once I engaged the pedal I was stunned at how the it could transform a perfectly squeaky clean tone into a roaring wall of guitar string screams and wails. All of this without loss of the character in the clean tone. I could still hear my highs, mids, and bass without any drop in feel. To my ears the quality in the fuzz was just as wonderful as it was played through a overdriven sound. There was a difference there but the actual richness and clarity in the effect was the same. I kicked into some complex chord work which the pedal handled fine, and flying up and down the neck slamming down on blues licks created as violent a lead tone as Buddy Guy's. All the while the Bolthead kept it's sound in the right place of the mix. It is rare to come across a fuzz pedal that works so well with both chords and lead runs. Usually you get one or the other, and most of the time it's single note work that fuzz pedals like most. If you do get a fuzz box that's gonna cover a lot ground you're usually in for a box with a ton of knobs that you have to spend hours trying to figure out how to use. I think it's safe to say this is by far one of the best sounding, easiest to use, and most versatile fuzz boxes that has ever crossed my path. The gigging musician will absolutely love this pedal, the classic rock and hard rock guitarist will drool, and the punk/alternative cats will also have their day. Dennis Menard is by far one of the most talented cats I have ever come across, his wicked good imagination and delivery is something everyone will appreciate. I pray we get to put some more of his boxes through their paces, or any of his other cool tools. Those in need of a great gigging fuzz box will find gold in the Bolthead, I highly recommend it. Analog War Cry will now sit back patiently and wait to see what else Dennis's tripped out mind will come up with. Stay tuned for another DenTone fix.

For more info on DenTone Pedals or any of the Fuzz Box World websites check out the following website. - and for Dennis's Youtibe channel go to Click on our Youtube search engine at the bottom of our site for some killer DenTone pedal demos.


  1. I have a 900 lb violin from Dennis and it is a treat too!

  2. Dennis Buzzaround fuzz box is the best fuzz pedal I've ever played ! Wickked ! MarcF.