Great today to be examining Australian fare again, the ‘Curly Fuzz’ by Big White Monkeys. This pedal is produced by a decent bunch of Aussies based here in Queensland on the Gold Coast. Before we begin our review, lets take a quick look at how she sounds through an Aria Pro II Strikin Sounds ST54 fitted with Fender Custom Shop 56 NOS pickups and played through a Fender ’59 Bassman LTD, Lacquered Tweed 410 Jensen 45W combo.
Big White Monkeys began as a couple of guys fixing amps and pedals and then taking this interest into making and producing their own offerings.
I have had quite a lot of their products before, both amps and pedals and all have been excellent pieces with top quality construction and great tone.
So initial impressions of the Curly Fuzz are good, extremely strong Rat sized steel casing, finished in bright yellow with their characteristic monkey face smack dab in the middle of it. It stands out very well but yet not too large or cumbersome.
Once engaged a very bright blue LED lets you know that you’re in business and ready to go! On that subject the pedal emits very little noise when engaged and even at high gain settings is very quiet which is a plus.
Okay so basic rundown, BBW use a slightly different system for their control knobs on their pedals and amps, by using pictorial means (similar to Orange Amplification who also use symbols to represent volume etc.). The volume is represented by drops of water, tone by a peanut chopped in half and the Fuzz/Gain by a Banana! Admittedly, I would personally prefer standard English but it is BBW’s defining feature I suppose and a minor thing really.
I must point out up front that despite being made in China (becoming less and less of a drawback with big leaps in quality production) the construction and quality of componentry is excellent.
Full spec pots, capacitors and resistors, double thickness PCB board (okay so not fully hand wired but for $60 or so you don’t get hand wired!) and a durable on and off foot switch. I have full trust in being able to gig with this as it really is one of the better constructed pedals I have seen. Power input is on the side, again not my favourite, but for the tone you get though I am more than prepared to forgive them!!
Okay, lets talk tone! Now I am using a Hiwatt T20 head and Greenback speaker for my demo, not the Fender Bassman you see in the video above that Darren is using. Hiwatts take pedals very well but I suspect the results will be similar on any tube amp.
How does this yellow fuzz box sound, well, in a word AWESOME! It is definitely a Fuzz, but not splattery or fizzy but strong and powerful, yet smooth and controlled.
I found that it gave a better tone, even just slightly than my Little Big Muff which I really like. I just wanted to keep playing, and it filled out my G & L bridge pickup wonderfully, in fact seemed to be made for a cutting single coil tone. I tried the bridge humbucker on my Godin SD and that was very thick and syrupy but in a good way. Personally I thought it shines with single coils for their clarity, but that’s just me.
The volume knob gives a gradual increase rather than go from 0 to 100% in a tiny turn. Tone is also well controlled, and even fully maxed with treble the pedal doesn’t go fizzy unlike my EHX Muff Fuzz. I have found I love it set about 12-1 o’clock giving a bit of thickness, just enough clarity and colour.
The Fuzz dial also gives a very balanced amount of gradual fuzz, and I have mine now set about 3 o’clock or about 80% of the maximum fuzz available. It stays remarkable controllable when fully dimed, but I think for best balance and tonal dynamics having it about 80% fuzz level, with the tone at about 1 o’clock is perfect. I know that this pedal will last a very long time, and I just need to click it on and play.
So in summary, the boys down the Coast have done another great job, and my only regret is that I didn’t get one of these earlier. It works brilliantly for low volume applications that most of us need.
So if you like a nice fuzz, that has a hint of grain but yet smooth overall, that is articulate but not icepicky or thin, then definitely grab one of these by Big White Monkeys (Currently the best place to grab one is on Ebay) the guys are very friendly and actually top blokes too!