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EarthQuaker Hoof Reaper Octave Fuzz Pedal

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Expert Review: EarthQuaker Hoof Reaper Octave Fuzz Pedal

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By Chris Loeffler

EarthQuaker Devices has been churning out some of the most creative effects around, so when they do something as "simple" as a fuzz people tend to take notice. Combining their iconic EarthQuaker Devices Hoof Fuzz and EarthQuaker Devices Reaper Fuzz into a 9v powered enclosure, the EarthQuaker Devices Hoof Reaper Fuzz adds an independent octave circuit and allows for up to seven different fuzz combinations running in a serial path.

 

What You Need to Know

  • The Hoof side of the pedal is a silicon/germanium hybrid fuzz circuit modeled after the classic Russian Green Big Muff Pi that brought the muff sound back in the early 90’s. It features Fuzz, Tone, Level, and Shift controls. Like its Russian-manufactured inspiration, the Hoof circuit produces muff tones that lean towards heavy bass, an upper-mid emphasis in the frequency curve, and a grittier distortion quality than its smoother, slightly more compressed siblings. Smashing Pumpkins and MBV tones are a few tweaks away, and there’s a nice clarity to the lower gain tones for classic crunch. The Shift control corrects what many people consider to be the muff-style circuit’s biggest flaw, a lack of mids that makes it magically disappear in a live mix. Scooped-mid settings for metal tones are available at one end of the Shift sweep while thick, mid-forward lead tones live on the opposite end to give a little extra presence and cut to the effect.
  • The Reaper side of the pedal recreates the vintage tone of the three knob germanium/silicon Tone Bender with Fuzz, Tone, and Level controls. Whereas the Hoof circuit is more compressed and unruly (in a good way), the Reaper is equally at home copping Fuzz Face-like tones in the lower gain settings as it is recreating early Zepp lead tones. The Reaper is closer to "classic" fuzz tones, but has about twice the available gain and is much beefier and harmonically rich.
  • The Octave circuit, unavailable as an individual pedal in the EarthQuaker Devices line, is a classic octave effect that creates notes a perceived octave above the note played through a series of frequency doubling, envelope generation, and filters. The Octave is clean and authentically vintage while enjoying an extended range across the neck. Best played between the 5th and 16th frets, the octave effect jumps out with no adjustments but is especially smooth and powerful when used with the bridge pickup and the guitar’s tone knob rolled back. Tracking is smooth and fast for quick runs, and the decay, often ugly in an analog octave effect, is musically pleasing and relatively glitch-free.
  • The effects are run in serial (Hoof, Octave, Fuzz), and each can be activated via an independent footswitch. This creates interesting sonic opportunities for pedal stacking and allows you to play each circuit’s strengths and unique characteristics against and with each other. While the Octave on its own it creates a clean, reedy effect I love, but turning on the Reaper sends it screaming into overdrive as it wrangles in the complex harmonics of the fuzz. Turning the Reaper off and the Hoof on with the Octave feeds the Hoof the octave signal, thickening it and compressing it to a focused sustain. The Hoof and Reaper together sound better than any two high-gain fuzzes should, with a remarkable amount of clarity and definition present despite the wall of sound fuzz it creates.

Limitations

  • While not really a limitation, it would be interesting to see the option to adjust the order of the pedals or even run them in parallel.

Conclusions

EarthQuaker Devices' Hoof Reaper Fuzz is a pedal built around the “why should you have to choose” philosophy and aims at fulfilling the needs of dedicated fuzz freaks. While each effect stands on its own (and sell incredibly well as individual units), the clean form-factor and the different possible combinations take the Hoof Fuzz to another level. For hybrid circuits, both the fuzzes are smooth and warm without being mushy… which is how a good fuzz should work.

Resources

EarthQuaker Devices Hoof Reaper Fuzz at Musician's Friend ($295.00)

EarthQuaker Devices Hoof Reaper Fuzz Product Page

 

 

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