Sunday, February 21, 2010

Top Finds of 2009 / Jam Pedals





This was a no brainer for us, we took one look at these pedals and knew these were going to be some of the most splendid stompboxes we'd ever come across. Whenever anyone puts this much creativity into their work it's bound to touch the heart and soul of the player. Besides the fact that these pedals look insanely cool riding your pedalboard, they sound equally as amazing and deliver a vintage tone unmatched by anything other than a handful of originals. JAM Pedals builds their analog works of art with the highest quality components available, using rare NOS chips, carbon comp resistors, and hand selected matched transistors. I'm the kind of cat that can easily be satisfied with a blank box as long as it sounds good. Throw the right components into an enclosure, close her up, and I'm ready to go. With the cats at JAM Pedals it is apparent there's more going than just building a great sounding stompbox. These are people that are crawling with artistic fever. The vibe, look, and sound of their pedals all point to one thing and one thing only... Rock & Roll! JAM Pedals; Avant-gard, retro, classy, and lovely musical tools. All wrapped into a sound that will bring your soul onto it's knees.


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Jam Pedals
Handmade in Greece




Fuzz Phrase
Vintage Germanium Fuzz


* Controls: Level, Gain, Internal Bias Trimmer
* High quality components
* Power: 9V battery or 9VDC adapter (positive ground)
* True Bypass Switching
* Uses only 5mA of power when On
* Custom artwork available
* Point-to-Point version available
* Bass version available
* Lifetime warranty

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I come across and am probably most addicted to the all mighty fuzz box. It is the sound that was captured on classic rock albums that first planted the love for the sound. Anyone with even the slightest knowledge in rock and roll knows that a good fuzz tone can go a long way. When JAM Pedals took on the task of creating their version of the famous Fuzz Face they sure as hell made it a point to capture it's character and soul, but there's more. The Fuzz Phrase is well capable of producing the tones of any great sounding original, and can also take the sound to create a special voice of it's own. The collection of rare and high quality components that go into building the Fuzz Phrase have a lot to do with it's overall vintage sound, but it is the heart of this pedal that gives it the sound and feel of an original. At the heart of this pedal lies the almost magical Mil-spec OC44 germanium transistor. Hand picked for gain and leakage this transistor can shape it's sound into some of the smoothest, grittiest, and even cleanest fuzz tones possible. On the Fuzz Phrase you will find Level and Gain controls for dialing in the overall volume and fuzz amount, but there's more. On the inside of the pedal is a Bias trimmer for a wider range of tones, flavors, and colors. With these three controls I found the Fuzz Phrase capable of more than some pedals with twice the amount of knobs. The sound of this pedal can go anywhere from brutal screams to light'n'fluffy grunts. Incorporating your guitar's volume knob into the equation also helps to capture the exact sound you're looking for and will help with those on-the-fly dynamic changes in live situations. Easily one of the best fuzz boxes I have ever plugged into.

We put the Fuzz Phrase through a handful of different amps and guitars, lots of different volume levels and gain settings, and stacked it with a bunch of pedals. Each time the pedal came through with flying colors. I found the Fuzz Phrase's character changed when played through different pickups, which was a big help for achieving the most tones possible. I first plugged the pedal into a 70's spec Strat and Twin Reverb. I set the amp to a med level so that I could easily control the sound's grit with my pick attack. The Fuzz Phrase's Level was set at unity with the amp and Gain set just passed 9'o'clock. The snap and bounce of the Strat's pickups came through beautifully while the pedal produced a light to medium fuzz that rose and fell as I dug in and held back. This made for great semi-clean and gritty overdriven fuzz tones, great for blues, classic rock, and everything in-between. The sound brought me a spot-on Hendrix tone, like Castles in the Sand, Ain't no Telling, and Little Wing. Opening up the pedal and playing with the Bias control gave me the ability to match and dial in the exact feel I wanted. This led me to plugging the Fuzz Phrase into a Super Lead and 4x12 cabinet. I tell you, I couldn't have dialed in a better Hendrix tone if I tried. Cranking the Super Lead to a slight overdrive and pushing it with the pedal's light fuzz created an even hotter classic rock tone. The Marshall was able to go from a crunchy tube overdrive to wailing smooth lead tone. I could literally feel the thickness and creamy sustain shaking in my fingers, as if it were coming directly from my hands. Again the internal Bias control took the sound even further, giving me an entirely new playing field to roll around in. I noticed the higher I'd set the Fuzz Phrase's Gain the more control I had over the sound's sustain, and where I'd set the Bias control would help with my pick attack style. This is something you won't find possible with many modern style fuzz boxes. These days fuzz pedals have taken it to such an extreme that it is literally impossible to grab a hold of the sound, or even play chords through it. This was not an issue with this pedal, in fact I found every type of chord sounded wonderful through this baby. Next I plugged the Fuzz Phrase into a Hagstrom semi-hollow body and Les Paul Studio, both guitars sporting duel humbuckers. First on the scene was the Hagstrom plugged into a 7/15 watt head and 1x12 cab. The amp was set at 7 watts cranked to a healthy crunch, and pedal dialed in to take the sound to the most extreme level possible. Here I set the Fuzz Phrase's Level higher than the amp's and Gain at around 2'o'clock. What came out of that little head was to be one of the biggest sounding rock tone's I'd ever heard. This ended up being one of those few tones we jot down and store in our "tone book" for a later day. Hey, you can never have too many guitar sounds when it comes to recording. Imagine a 100 watt Marshall pushed to the limit with a fat vintage fuzz tone thrown on top of it. This is what came from the little amp only at a lower volume. With the rhythm pickup I got a thick and velvety fuzz tone. Chords rang out evenly with each string perfectly in sync with the next, creating a balanced and defined sound. Single note runs sounded huge and became more interesting the higher the fret number. Depending on where you set the Bias control would land you some mellow octave up effects, a very very cool option. Through the lead pickup I got all of the same characteristics only with much more bite and intensity. I was able to get that beautiful warmth that semi-hollow bodies produce only with all the sting and aggression of the bridge pup. With this pedal setting alone I was able to get just about every tone needed simply by rolling off some of the guitar's tone and volume levels. I could roll down the guitar's volume and get a mild hairy fuzz, or shave off some tone to warm up the overall sound. With the Les Paul I got just as amazing results only with a tighter, meatier sound. Cranked up to 15 watts I dialed the amp up to 10 on every knob. First I pushed the amp with a light fuzz, setting the Fuzz Phrase's Level to unity and Gain at about 10%. I got a fluffy, airy overdrive type fuzz that worked nicely with everything and all styles of playing. The higher gain setting I dialed the pedal with it Level almost maxed and Gain at around 80%. Here the Fuzz Phrase took the 15 watts into buck wild frenzy of fuzz overtones and undertones. In the end it was all about one thing, authentic vintage fuzz tones. Everything about this pedal bleeds the classic and mystical feel of an old time favorite. This is a pedal that can take any guitar or amp and turn it into a classic rock warrior. There is not one pedal from this company that I found to be shy from immaculate. JAM Pedals has a talent and passion not easily attainable or found in today's boutique market. If you're looking for something truly special, with vintage sound, and immense feel. Turn to these cats, your setup will thank you for it.

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For more info on JAM Pedals go to www.jampedals.com or click the direct link in our sidebar. JAM Pedals also offers amazing custom artwork on their pedals which you can check out on their website. They offer a handful of stunning effect pedals that will leave you drooling! Stay tuned for more from this awesome pedal company, we are not done in the least. More to come soon!


4 comments:

  1. WOW!!! Thanks, some of the coolest pedals I have ever seen.

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  2. Proud owner of many JAM pedals and the fuzz phrase is certainly one of the best.

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  3. Thanks for the review. For anyone interested in JAM Pedals in North America, check out the official distributor: http://www.toneconcepts.com

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