Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Top Finds of 2009 / Son of Bee

Next up to bat is new comer Stomp Under Foot, a top quality, hand built effects pedal company with some very interesting little boxes. If you haven't heard of this talented little one-man operation.... well then it's time you did. The designer and builder of the Stomp Under Foot collection is Matt Pasquerella. Like many of the cats out in the stompbox scene Matt also came to be from a love and passion for gear. Today there is so much information one can take from the world wide web that will help them learn how to build and modify musical gear. It is those few heart driven and imaginative builders that end with the talent to create memorable, usable, and great sounding products. Matt most definitely falls into that category of builder, and boy does he have a knack for the fuzz game. Some cats dig the grit, others modulation. Matt? He's all about the fuzz, fizzy, and furry.

Stomp Under Foot
Builder: Matt Pasquerella
Years in the Game: 4

Son of Bee
Fuzz Pedal

* Works great with both lead and chord work
* Massive amounts of rich sustain
* Huge variety of tones
* Extremely responsive/sensitive to the touch
* Runs of 9V battery or 9Vdc power adapter
* Heavy-duty enclosure
* Top quality components

* Level: Controls overall stompbox ouput
* Mids: Works to dial in/out amount of midrange bite
* Tone: Shapes frequency color of effect
* Gain: Controls fuzz amount. From gritty to massive


Stomp Under Foot, here we go baby! The name of the pedal is the Son of Bee, and the name of game is fuzz, fuzz , and more fuzz. The Son of Bee's ability to knock out a world of different fuzz tones is stunning. We sat and were able to dial in everything from classic/vintage fuzz sounds to modern, and everything in between. The mojo of this pedal lies from it's control layout. At first look the controls don't seem like anything all that special, that is until you dig in. From left to right you'll find Level - Mids - Tone - Gain. The amount of output from the Level control alone is enough to send your amp into a wild dance of grit'n'gravel. The Gain can take the pedal from an overdrive type fuzz to an all-out storm of sonic assaults. The Tone control on this pedal I found to be very usable. I've found tone controls on other fuzz boxes to only have one, two at the most usable tone settings. On the Son of Bee you'll discover that the entire range of the Tone knob is capable of delivering a great collection of sounds. The Mids knob, this little knob is where things really got interesting for me. The Mids work to further shape the fuzz's character into whatever animal you need. The combination of the Tone and Mids together is where you'll find fuzz beasts of this world or beyond.

The first order of business was to see how many different fuzz tones we could get from the Son of Bee. We set it up at it's lowest gain setting and went from there. We broke out the mini-humbuckers and Deville amp for this first demo. I thought the mini's along with a powerful fuzz box like the SOB would make for a great combo. I set the amp to a spanking clean, with a taste of reverb for a bit of ambiance, and started with the guitar's rhythm pickup. I dialed the Son of Bee's Gain knob all the way back, set the Tone just behind noon, Mids at about 3'o'clock, and matched the pedal's output to the amp's. I reached back, struck down on a E5 power chord, and man was I stoked at the sound that came tumbling from the amp. It lived somewhere between a rich'n'lush distortion and classic rock fuzz. It was a dead-on Pete Townshend Isle of Wight guitar sound. That honking, screaming guitar tone that he played through his SG was staring at me dead in the face. What a great place to start right? I took the guitar's volume back less than a quarter and there it was... the "Young Man Blues" rock tone. The sound was that of a gritty/rich overdrive, and fat/bloomy fuzz tone. Perfect for heavier rock blues and traditional classic rock sounds. I was also able to tame the fuzz into that subtle, dying battery overdrive type sound. To get back into a straight out fuzz sound or lead tone I just rolled the guitar volume all the way back up. That's a lot of tone from one setting if you ask me. I noticed something unique when I rolled the volume back though, something that really appealed to me. You get a mellower version of the fuzz you have dialed in, only none of it's aggression or attitude goes away. It's kind of hard to explain. You still feel all of the same intensity only without as much of rumble and growl. These are my favorite types of sounds, the one's you can't explain and feel riding in your gut. Next I took the pedal's Gain up to about a quarter of the way, set the Tone and Mids both at noon, and left the Level where it was. Quickly everything became much more intense, the bite, the character, the projection, everything. I got this rounded out, warm, and fizzy undertone from the fuzz that sounded great with chords and even better as I slid into the higher frets. With chords all of the strings came through evenly and clearly. I was able to from triads to more complex chords without loss of definition, a huge plus there. Lead runs, riffs, and licks all sounded tuff as nails. Shaking the notes into a wild vibrato pushed the fuzz even further into a more exciting vibe. All the soul and signature touch of my pick attack came through beautifully through the Son of Bee. I could easily take my fretting hand and control the dynamics of the sound by digging or lightly massaging the notes. From here I began experimenting with the different combos of Mids and Tone settings. Rolling the Mids off all the way with the Gain about half way up, and Tone at noon created these great Dinosaur Jr, Sonic Youth, Smashing Pumpkins, and early Soundgarden tones. It was that cross between distortion and fuzz tone that many cats back in the "Grunge" (boy I hate that word) days were using. Again I could easily manipulate the fuzz into warm and crunchy overdrive by shaving off some guitar tone and volume. Just for the heck of it I threw in some delay, and a volume pedal for some extra fun. The Son of Bee combined with the other pedals created a beautiful swell effect full of sustain and violin-like character. I could literally hold on to the notes as long as I wanted by turning up the SOB's gain and digging into the strings with some nice vibrato. This is something I really dug, I love me some vibrato and would say I have a pretty powerful B.B. King type style. A great sounding fuzz and a strong vibrato can take you a long way. It was time to break out the Strat and 100 watt Super Lead, and here things got a bit dangerous. I cranked the Marshall up to a steady helping of natural tube grit, fed it the Son of Bee with all it's knobs at noon, and set the Strat in it's bridge pickup. A sound that Hendrix would have drooled over came booming out from the speakers. The combination of the natural tube grit and pedal's fuzz assault created a sound so big it had the walls shaking. Everything I played through this setup sounded epic. Dive bombs moaned like wounded tigers, string slides sliced the invincible air, bends pushed and pulled magic from the pickups, and chords sat perfectly in my soul pushing and driving me to play more and more. That is the true definition of Rock & Roll my friends. For an encore we went ahead and dime'd the pedal's Gain and Mids knobs, left the Tone at noon, and pushed the Level up to about 75%. Unless you have some decent soundproofing I would not suggest you attempt this. A sound so vile and enhancing was what the pedal created when turned to an extreme level. Even at this knarly setting the Son of Bee still help it's own and sounded off like a true professional piece of gear. I couldn't find anything negative to say about this pedal. It sounded stunning, covers lots of ground, it's easy to dial in, plays well with other pedals, sounds killer through all pickups, and let's you create sounds that will inspire you. If Stomp Under Foot continues to knock-out more tone tools like these I easily see them becoming one of the elite boutique companies of the world. I am super stoked to have had the chance to bring you guys this pedal and hope you take the time to check one out. There are some new boxes on the Stomp Under Foot horizon for those of you who are curious. Matt has just released two new pedals, the Halo Bender, and the Hellephant. We will stay in touch with Stomp Under Foot and try and bring you guys some reviews on these pedals and anything else in the coming future. For now I say do some investigating of your own and if you get a chance dip into the world of the Son of Bee.

For more info on Stomp Under Foot go to www.stompunderfoot.com There are a bunch of killer pedals on the site with audio demos for you to drool over. Matt is always building killer deals and so make sure to check in with the site from time to time. We will be back with more news from Stomp Under Foot shortly. Thanks and keep rocking!

1 comment:

  1. This review and the sound clips at Stomp Under Foot are steering me to trying out this fuzz, perfect for when you want monster FUZZ, not polite overdrive. (In my world, the monster fuzz sounds usually win out.)