Way back when, not long after the dawn of rock and roll, there lived a number of now notorious lunatics. History has since updated their collective noun to genii thanks to the popularity and longevity of their wayward yet profound sonic experimentation. Whether you call them maniacs or masterminds, the fact remains that anyone rampant enough to put a pocketknife through the speaker cone of an amp that these days we covet as a holy relic is at the very least pushing an envelope few would dare to approach. Still, where would we be without these glorious mavens? Hendrix would never have tuned in and fuzzed out; Clapton would’ve never rolled off his entire top end and basked in the sunshine of all of our love. They in turn would never have given birth to latter day torchbearers like Josh Homme et al. whose wild-eyed, fuzzy snarl gives rise for Mad Professor to manufacture the perfectly imperfect Fire Red Fuzz.
The world of fuzz is a strange and confusing one at the best of times. For many the flabby, sustaining woof of Russian Big Muffs and their descendants is the only way to melt a face. For others, busted diodes and off bias everything is the way to set the world on fire. The Fire Red Fuzz has an interesting take on this recipe, and it all boils down to what you do with the tone knob. If you want the creamy clipping sound of the seventies à la the famous Fuzz Face, then ease off on the Fuzz knob and notch in a stitch in the top end. If you’re brave enough to do the opposite though, you are sure to find Brant Bjork beating on your door asking you to join a reformed Fu Manchu with the amount of beefy, ducked saturation on board. As fuzzes go, this is easily one of the more flexible units I’ve throttled in spite of its unassuming yet snappy red uniform.
Mad Professor is a grossly underrated company in my view. Their catalogue boasts a smorgasbord of sounds that sidles up to the likes of MXR and Boss in range and scope without lazily treading on their toes. In many ways, their humility is one of their finest qualities as every one of their designs that I’ve plugged into has been a tasteful and ready to run version of the well it is drawn from. When they veer into more exploratory combinations, they do so with a sense of discerning that escapes many others. Their Bluebird OD/delay combo may not have been the be all and end all of sonic architecture, but it was nonetheless a colourful and fun thing to wail on. More often than not though, their builds hit the nail on the head in one fell swoop and that is exactly what they’ve done here. The Fire Red Fuzz is as close to a gold standard sound as you could ask for. It has everything from classic rock cream to screaming, black metal seer at its behest.
Hits and Misses
A super versatile, easily controllable addition to any fuzz collection