Jan 21, 2013

FXdoctor’s Super 8-Bit Fuzzdoes one thing well, and that’s creating an unpredictable racket that sounds like a Commodore 64 that’s been dunked in acid. It certainly isn’t a pedal you’d ever leave on and can’t be incorporated into a formalized song structure because it isn’t designed to do the same thing twice. However, if you’re looking for an effect that makes your guitar to sound like an ‘80s video game, your search is over.

I plugged it in without reading the instructions and played around with the three unmarked knobs, making a series of bizarre noises. Relenting, I looked at the enclosed sheet of paper: Works best when playing above the 12th fret. So I tried that and got a very gratifying 8-bit-sounding descending arpeggio as the note decayed: Duh duhduhduuhduuuh DUUUH. Game over. “Hello Brooklyn!” shouts the drummer.

The mystery knobs turn out to be Volume, Gain and Stability, the latter of which you’ll want to dime in order to max the effect. The harder the string pluck, the longer the descending arpeggio. The pedal in that mode is deaf to conventional notes and won’t replicate anything it has just done unless you do precisely the same thing again. Given its randomness, unless you are into some kind of atonal no-wave revival, you’ll want to use it sparingly or in a context awash in humming, droning feedback, and when you need an effect that stands out like a hummingbird in high tops.

With Stability turned down to zero the Super 8-Bit is a rather nasty fuzz pedal, loud and dirty, confirming that this is thing is not designed to be subtle. That isn’t to say it won’t find people who’ll love it, but they’ll have to be willing to drop $175 on a effect that can be a lot of fun but not exactly multifaceted. – Howard Stock

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