Although called a Screamer Fuzz Germanium it’s not strictly a fuzz-sounding device and offers a lot of different tones. Certainly there are some nice thick and grainy fuzz tones, but with the combination of an Overdrive you can create a wide mix of sounds that range from strictly mild overdrive, to heavy distortion and fuzz.
The easiest way to describe the sounds over the three settings (whether using just the drive, the fuzz or both) is that the Germanium setting has a thicker and darker tone, the silicon setting has a smoother and more biting quality, and the LED setting has a louder and more aggressive (punchy) character that blends some characteristics of the other two. The Tone knob has a very wide range, from heavy and dark to somewhat piercing, and so whether your amp, pickups and other gear is on the dark side or bright side it’s easy to dial into a pretty awesome sound. The range of drive is significant, in that turned low (9-o’clock) you can hear some added energy in your tone and when pushed (3-o’clock) you can achieve some very nice ‘breaking-up’ qualities, but without masking the original sound of your amp and gear. However, add in even a modest amount of fuzz (8-9 o’clock) and you not only get into some fantastic distortions, but the volume increases quite a bit, making for an awesome boost. Overall, as you fiddle with the Drive, the Fuzz and the output Level there is plenty of headroom on tap. As an added bonus, the Screamer Fuzz Germanium cleans up exceptionally well – crank up the Drive and Fuzz to about 12-noon each and the sound is fairly massive, but dial back on the guitar’s volume knob (to about half-way or less) and you get a good dirty crunch tone. Of course, all of this pertains to a clean amp channel. When working with a high-gain or dirty channel, the levels on this pedal will be affected by how dirty the amp signal is, but also how high the gain is on that channel. Typically just a touch of fuzz and drive on the Screamer Fuzz Germanium will go a long way to hot-rod your dirty channel and without robbing it of the original characteristics and sound. It’s like modding a 5150 amp head… it still sounds like a 5150, but with an extra set of balls.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: Fuzz is not for everyone, including pedals that sound like a hive of bees (a very particular taste); and I get that sentiment. However, Cusack Music’s Screamer Fuzz Germanium is one of those fuzz pedals for people who don’t like fuzz pedals (and also for those who do). This is a new take on the original Screamer Fuzz but with a Germanium setting as opposed to a Shottke clipping diode. You can use the Drive exclusively (the germanium diodes go into the Drive section, which then affects the Fuzz thereafter), which is a great sounding overdrive that is quite versatile considering the three clipping options (germanium, silicon and LED); and when you add a touch of Fuzz the sound is far more comparable to a dirty, gritty overdrive or distortion. It’s only when you start cranking the fuzz to about 10-o’clock or beyond that you get that mistakenly obvious fuzz tone… although I find on any of the clipping settings the quality of fuzz is more robust and organic rather than fizzy and overly-saturated. Factor in a highly usable Tone control and one of the most dynamic ranges of settings possible among all the options to craft your own sound (or series of sounds) and the Screamer Fuzz Germanium is a solid buy at $205 USD. Regardless, this is a limited production model with about 35 units remaining. If sold out, do check all the other Screamer Fuzz pedals over at Cusack Music since this company is the real deal when it comes to high-end boutique-like pedals at very reasonable pricing.
GENERAL USE: The clipping setting determines if you’re looking for a fatter and darker tone (Germanium), a tone that cuts through the mix a bit better (Silicon) or a tone that has an aggressive boosting quality (LED). The Tone knob works as it should, and with a wide range of dark-to-bright it’s easy to dial into something that works with any gear – fatten up that thin sounding Strat or brighten up those muddy humbuckers. The next consideration is what type of tone you are after, since you can use a lot of Drive, a lot of Fuzz or a combination of the two in various amounts. When focusing on Fuzz the Drive adds some saturation to smooth the signal, but at the same time makes the Fuzz sound a bit angry (a fuzz-distortion type of mix). When focusing on the Drive you can achieve a very classic amp-pushing quality with a lot of Drive and only a hint of Fuzz (you would not think this a fuzz pedal with such a mix, but a fantastic sounding drive/distortion). Add in even more Fuzz and you begin getting a fatter distortion and eventually an unmistakable fuzz tone. The results are even more widespread depending if you are adding the Screamer Fuzz Germanium to a clean or dirty channel. Depending on how ‘clean’ the channel, you can really crank up the pedal with awesome results. With dirty channels that verge on high-gain it is best to add low amounts of Fuzz (8-o’clock) and Drive (9-10 o’clock) for that extra dimension so that you get a super high-gain result.
OTHER DETAILS: A standard sized pedal made of heavy duty, lightweight aluminum with an attractive and textured Terridium finish, the Screamer Fuzz Germanium’s graphics on the pedal reminds me of the Periodic Table of Elements, giving it a unique look and style. Measuring 112 mm (L) x 60mm (W) x 50mm (H) (4.4 x 2.36 x 1.97 inches), the footswitch is a soft-switch, which means it does not ‘click’ when engaged or disengaged. The three-position clipping toggle switch is solid when moved and is sandwiched among the four proprietary milled aluminum knobs. The four knobs controlling Level, Tone, Drive and Fuzz all have good quality pots (smooth and solid when turned). The cable input and output are located in the back of the unit, whereas the power input is located on the side and about mid-way long the pedal (far from any foot-stomping that may take place). The LED to indicate on (red) and off (green) has a nickel plated brass bevel around it, and is located at the top of the pedal. You can disengage the green LED (when the pedal is not in use) by holding down the footswitch for a second. However, I like this feature, particularly for dark stages, since you know where this pedal is even when not in use (via the green light). The Screamer Fuzz Germanium can work on a standard 9V battery or via a standard 9VDC (center -) power supply, while consuming only 7mA of power.