Sunday, June 13, 2010

Crazy Tube Circuits... What else is there to be said?

By now there must be a thousand and one boutique pedal companies doing their thing, with a thousand and one well on the way, and a thousand and one long and gone. As a player and true tone hound finding and separating the "gems" from the "so-so's" has not been easy. It takes a keen ear and heated passion to really know what can take your tone to the next level. When you take a technology as simple as analog pedal building sometimes hitting new ground can be tuff. This is not to say we don't see new and exciting tone tools, new ways to use our gear, and different spin-offs of old time favorites. This is why coming across something with some magic and mojo is always really special. The latest diamond find for me comes all the way from Athens, Greece. Introducing itself to the world as Crazy Tube Circuits, and bringing players everywhere something to be proud about. The man behind the plan here is none other than the talented Chris Ntaifotis. When I was first turned on to Chris's pedal line one thing came to mind... "Cool!". Even before plugging into these pedals I was taken by their hip, slick, and mysterious looks. But style isn't all these little boxes have to offer. Crazy Tube Circuits pedals sound insanely good, are built with top notch gear, and work in many different applications. During the next couple months we will be looking at some of Crazy Tube Circuits slickest designs. Analog War Cry will be plugging into these little beauties to see what makes them tick, and sharing it with you guys to make your tone glands water.




I will tell you, the one pedal I am the most tuff on is definitely the overdrive pedal. My reason for this being my long time love for tube amp grit and grime. There are many many things pedals can do that amplifiers cannot do, but when it comes to overdrive this is something I have found amps do best. That being said there are also a handful of amazing dirt pedals out there that can create that tube amp grit thing beautifully, and for you clean tone junkies who rely on your stompboxes for your dirt (me) there can be no better pedal. Many of these stunning overdrive pedals seem to have popped up in the last decade or so, either following the blueprints of timeless classics or having something special of their own. The Ziggy overdrive sits somewhere in between these two classes, having a familiar tone structure that is easy to work with, while able to hand you fresh new flavors you can mold into your own. The Ziggy's controls consists of the magic 3-knob layout, being Volume/Gain/and Tone. It sports a true bypass switch, in & out jacks, an LED indicator, 9VDC power jack, really cool art, and an enclosure stuffed with high quality components. The Ziggy works great on it's own, with other pedals, and for many different types of music. You'll find getting an array of warm'n'silky vintage tones, modern tones, and everything in between.

I gotta say, finding a guitar and pickup that didn't sound good with this pedal with damn near impossible! Humbuckers sounded big'n'beefy, Strat single coils screamed with blues soul, P90's rang out like lovely banshees, and Tele pickups swung, sang, and banged! The first setup I plugged the Ziggy into was my modified Hot Rod Deville, and 60's build Strat. I set the amp straight up the middle getting a loud and spanking clean tone, and dialed it's reverb to about 2-3. I began with some mellow, warm, and subtle pedal settings. The Zigggy's volume I matched to the amp's, it's tone I rolled back to about 9'o'clock, and the gain I set to about 15%. This first pedal settings was lovely! I was able to maintain all of my amp's big beautiful clean tone with the ability to hammer in some super mild yet grunty grit when I wanted it to. How the Ziggy reacted to my picking dynamics so well was beyond me! I was able to get the same type of response my tube amps deliver, and able to get these breathy subtle dirt tones at lower volumes too. All I had to do to make the overall sound bite a bit harder was roll up the tone a bot more, and feed the amp a little more of the pedal's volume. From here I took the Ziggy's gain up to about 30%, rolled the tone to noon, and again matched the volume to the amp's. This dirty tone was equally as appealing only in a completely different light. Think SRV's stinging Texas blues tone. The dirt's character was tight, focused, and extremely tamable. It was one of those dirt tones you're able to control and shape with the movement of your fingers. The perfect sound for players who don't rely on many colors or effects, and who let their fingers do all the talking. Next I took the Gain up just passed noon, let the tone bite a bit harder by setting to 3'o'clock, and tapped in a bit more volume to help cook the amp's tubes a bit hotter. Now this tone was interesting. Depending on where I had my guitar's tone knob set took the tone into many different genres. I was still able to get a mean and aggressive blues tone, yet also able to get these great indie rock, alt rock, and awesome classic rock rhythm tones. While flying on some licks I heard something (a tone) that one doesn't come across too often. I rolled off the Deville's verb all the way, let it rip, and got one of the most lovely open and close blues tones I had ever heard. If you've ever heard Buddy Guy's frantic yet awesome and speedy guitar playing you know what kind of sound I'm talking about. Before switching amps and guitars I had to take the Ziggy's gain to 100%. I did this along with setting the tone back all the way, and pushing the volume up almost all the way. I got a knarly loud sound but wow what a epic thing it was. It was nice to finds the pedal's tone was still usable even with it rolled off to zero. Something else I noticed while taking the gain higher and higher was that I was still able to mold and control the dirt with my pick attack. Just like a big bad tube amp! My next session with the Ziggy consisted of an AC15 clone, a 1x12 cab, 2x10 cab, a semi-hollow body with buckers, and a P90 equipped Junior copy. First up to bat was the 1x12 cab and semi-hollow body with buckers. The root tone I set with this amp was completely different from the Deville's. With this amp I was able to set an already somewhat dirty tone, which when blended with the pedal created an entirely new flavor of grit. Now, some pedals are meant to do the dirt thing through a nice big clean tone. Some pedals work great through an already gritty amp sound. This pedal? I'll just say this; the combination of the amp's dirt and pedal's grit was spectacular! The Ziggy complimented the amp's natural grit to make things better all around. I got more undertones, overtones, harmonic richness, thick saturation, and gobs of controllable feedback. Working the guitar's volume in and out, and rolling off the tone control took the pedal's character into some pretty interesting places, almost like switching amps all together. Next I rolled up the amp as dirty as I could get it, with the amp's tone set very high, guitar's tone rolled and set in the neck pickup. The Ziggy's gain I also cranked, only leaving the volume and tone at noon. Trying to pin down and name tag this tone was not going to happen. This was one of those tones that was a thing all it's own. The pedal made my amp bite, scream, and strike at the walls. And this wasn't it, there was still more drive to be had. I was able to use the Ziggy's volume to further push the amp's tubes, add more grit, attitude, and able to set the sound's overall mood with the pedal's tone knob. Then I threw the Junior with it's single Lollar P90 into the mix and went even further into dirt tone heaven. It was like every pickup I threw at the pedal it handled with ease. If you've never pushed a great sounding P90 through a great sounding low watt tube amp you are missing out. If you have you know that sound and know how awesome it is. With the Ziggy thrown into the mix I was able to not only take this tone further, but able to produce more of what made it special. Slapping down on my guitar neck never sounded so good! Depending on how I picked I was able to get semi-clean tones, mellow grit, smooth overdrive, epic roars, and stinging leads. It was going to be impossible to get this pedal to sound bad. Crazy Tube Circuits has not only proven themselves with this one pedal but they have also firmly places themselves as one of the timeless classics to surely come. I these pedal gaining cult status and becoming one of those pedal companies we all drool over. When someone has they just have it and Crazy Tube Circuits has it! Anyone looking for a high quality sounding overdrive pedal will do themselves right by adding a Ziggy to their arsenal. I tell you one thing... never have I been so excited to put a pedal line through it's paces as I am now. Stay tunes for more, you'll be glad you did.


For more info on Crazy Tube Circuits go to or click on the direct link in our sidebar. We will be keeping a close eye and bringing you more from this kickass company so please keep your eyes peeled. More to come soon!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Open up and say "Awwwwesome"!

The Doc is most definitely in the house and prescribing some of the healthiest tone remedies to ever hit the music scene. FX Doctor is another one of these cool little outfits floating around out there that I was blessed to come across. It was a couple of the FX Doctor's (Joshua's) modified stompboxes that first caught my eye. Later I would discover this wasn't the only talent this company had. Along with an array of fantastic mods that can be done to your everyday pedals, the FX Doctor also builds and designs his own line of superb stompboxes. The FX Doctor pedal line is one that is cleverly designed, ear/eye catching, and perfect for the professional player, weekend gig monster, and bedroom rock and roller. It is pedal companies like FX Doctor that are keeping things moving forward, keeping things fresh, and keeping things on the up and up. Step into the doctors office and get your fix!!!


FX Doctor


You cats must be looking at this little monkey and saying to yourselves "Preamp huh? Hmm, where's the switch?" Well, this is like no preamp you have ever plugged into. The FX Doctor Preamp is based around the 2-band active preamp's that can be found in the vintage Musicman Stingrays. I myself am familiar with vintage Stingray basses, and if you've ever had a chance to rumble one out you know how great they sound. This design gives players who use passive pickups and amp's without active tone controls a wider tonal spectrum, and many more tonal options when dialing in other effect pedals. When running long cables runs or a high number pedals, the FX Doctor Preamp also works beautifully to help bring your signal back to life. Besides this I found a number of other cool uses for this pedal (which I will share with ya'll later). The Preamp consists of Bass and Treble controls, no footswitch, a 9VDC input jack, and an LED indicator. Both the Bass and Treble on this unit give you lots of flavor and lots of control. This is a simple and quick way to fine tune your sound and really get inside of what tones your dreaming of.

I first grabbed my single P90 equipped Junior copy and modified Hot Rod Deville. I dialed in my amp to it's normal clean root tone, grabbed a couple high quality cables, and let things flow. First I slammed down on some chords without the Preamp engaged. To turn it on and off I put it on a effects loop switch. Without the pedal engaged I got everything I've always gotten. A nice and sweet, fat'n'sparkling, big open Fender clean tone. Next with the FX Doctor Preamp in the mix. I had both the bass and treble controls at twelve'o'clock. I lost none of the feel and bite of my tone, but somehow got more boom and spank. It gave my lows a rounder, wider feel, and gave the highs a chimey character that I've only otherwise been able to get with eq pedals. This meant many things. It meant I could roll down my tone knob and still have plenty of twang and bang, it meant I could roll down the volume and control how much mojo I wanted, and it meant I could now really dive into my amp's root tone to get the best possible sound. Next I threw some dirt pedals into mix. Again I tested the signal without the Preamp first, then with it. This was in fact really really fun and damn exciting! The FX Doctor Preamp was able to give my rhythm dirt pedal tone an entire new range of sounds, feels, and tones that before were not possible. If you rely on your pedals for your dirty sounds you know sometimes it can be a pain in the ass to match those pedals to your root tone. Sometimes dirt boxes eat away highs, or produce too much lows, or just plainly make things dull. You don't know how many dirt boxes I have played that sound great on their own. But when switched back and fourth from my amp's tone it's a different story. One thing I was able to do which really came in handy was throw the dirt box into the mix of the looper. This meant with one switch I could turn both pedals on and get exactly the sound I wanted. I could now match the pedal's tone to my amp's and keep things in line. With lead tones the Preamp worked great to spice up the tone and really make it bite and stand out. If you play with another guitar player (which I do and can be a pain sometimes) this is a perfect little tool for jumping out of the mix. Then I got to modulation pedals and delays, reverbs, and other fun stuff. With digital delays I could now pump in a bit of warmth, making them much more earthy and analog sounding. This was true for chorus pedals, vibe's, flangers, and phasers. For those modulation pedals that do the opposite and makes things too dull and warm, this pedal can brighten things up beautifully. After some rocking and rolling with the clean Fender tone it was time to play the Preamp through a big and mean tube driven gritty tone. Oh the sounds I was able to dial in!!! We all know how sweet and awesome a good sounding tube sounds when taken to the limit. Well with this badboy I was able to juice up and magnify everything that makes big tube amp tones so wonderful. It's as if the Preamp's sound sits beside your tone inside of above it or behind it. Then there was tossing the Preamp at the end of my pedal chain. Here is one of the spots this pedal works it's best. What rocks to hard about this is that you just dial in your amp tone, leave the Preamp on, and let the rest do it's thing. It tosses in any tone loss you may have lost from too many pedals or long cable runs, and it gives every pedal before it much more magic. But wait there's more! Something my partner suggested I tried was tossing the Preamp into my amp's effects loop. Oh yes was this sweet too. I have placed many pedals that have sounded good in my effects loop but this may be one of the if not the best little tricks I have ever learned. I'm telling you guys, for such a simple little box this pedal does a lot. It is never too overpowering (even when cranked to the max), never noisy, and it is always easy to get back to your root tone if need be. Whether tossing it in to your effects loop, stacking it up with dirt pedals or other effects, putting it on a switch, or using it to simply give your overall sound a bit more or less. This pedal is quick and precise. I am quite excited to continue trying more of Joshua's effects and really stoked to come back here and share it with you guys. If you have not yet heard of the mighty FX Doctor pedal line make an appointed and get yours. It'll do you some good.


For more info on FX Doctor go to or click the logo in our direct links. We will keep you guys up to date on any happenings with this killer little company and try to bring you more cool toys to check out. Stay tuned for more!!!