Feb 8, 2011

Sometimes you want subtle, transparent overdrive – a warm tube growl with subtlety, complexity and nuance. Then again, you may also find yourself trying to make your guitar sound like a hellish ray-gun. For these such occasions, the Dwarfcraft Devices Hax Ring Mod has plenty of insane tones on tap.

The Hax’s straightforward controls belie the sonic weirdness lurking withing: the “Tone” knob adjusts bass/treble; the “Blend” knob integrates the Hax sound with your dry signal and the “Crash” knob starves the power – emulating a dying battery. You can play the Hax in Low or Hi filter mode and there is a spot to plug in an expression pedal. These controls are all extremely interactive – subtle tweaks to each knob create completely different sounds.

The Hax is aimed at experimental types, and as such, rewards robust experimentation. This is a noisy beast capable of making some of the most provocative sounds you or your neighbors have ever heard coming from your amp. Here are some sample sounds I found from twisting knobs:

With the tone rolled off and the crash and hi-filter engaged, you can get a Marvin the Martian super sputtery lo-fi synth noise. More inferno than disco!

Turning the crash all the way up in the low filter setting yields a “traditional” ring mod tone – lots of dissonance and ghosts in the machine.

Keep the blend knob around 9 o’clock for subtle lower-octave frequencies and splat.

With the crash turned all the way up and the tune rolled back, you get a strange robotic tremolo – more angry helicopter than surf-rider.

The high-pass filter mode yields a gated fuzz effect with the tone turned past noon.

An expression pedal is truly essential to get the most out of the Hax – insane dinosaur whoops and angry bird-calls are yours as you control the frequency oscillation. I don’t think this pedal is for everyone – certainly the guy in the Stevie Ray Vaughn cover band probably won’t take a shine to it – but in the right hands, the Hax can produce some frightening and innovative tones.- Ed Gross

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