BAE Hot Fuzz
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New for BAE is its fuzz pedal, the Hot Fuzz. As we already know, the market for pedals is pretty tightly cramped. Does BAE bring something new to the table that serious musicians would want to use on their recordings, and, just as importantly, at their gigs? In short… yes!
The BAE Hot Fuzz is essentially two pedals working together as one. There are two separate stomp toggle buttons on the face of the pedal. The left switch activates a high frequency boost, which has a fixed frequency and is assigned a single gain knob. The right switch activates the actual fuzz, controlled by a Gain, Bass, Treble, and aptly named Juice knob. There are LEDs at the upper corners of the pedal to indicate if the corresponding side of the pedal is activated. That’s it for the control panel. Simple, yet very effective.
Mono ¼” in and out jacks as well as a barrel-style, 2.5mm, center negative, 9V power adapter jack sits on the rear of the pedal. You can run from a 9V battery if desired, and the current draw is less than 6mA.
We’d like to note the BAE Hot Fuzz has a slightly larger footprint than some of the other fuzz pedals on the market, and as such, an overly cramped pedalboard may need to clear some space. 6” x 3.5” isn’t a deal breaker given that the more well known, round, fuzz pedal takes up considerably more room on a pedalboard.
As plug-and-play as the BAE Hot Fuzz appears, getting to know (and love) the fuzz controls takes a little bit of a commitment, as dialing in great sounds isn’t necessarily a given. It was easy to pour on too much of any single control (unless of course too much is the intended result). This is by no means a negative inference; merely a footnote in terms of usability. You can completely miss the mark of what you may be going for if you’re not careful with this pedal.
With some settings, we found that more bass was better tolerated depending upon where the Gain and Juice knobs were set. Spending some extra time getting to know the Hot Fuzz and its control sweeps was well worth the little extra effort.
Pushing the gain in this setting yielded a bit more noise and a bit more aggression, and there was a point of diminishing return. Dialing the gain back a bit and pushing the juice knob gave us more of that fuzz-type compressed tone that we associate with classic fuzz. Pushing either knob past 12:00 was useful, but increased the noise level. Pushing both the Gain and the Juice knobs past high noon resulted in an uncontrollable, beautiful fuzzy mess! We had noise, we had feedback, we had victory, and most of all, we had earplugs, too!
The Bass and Treble knobs during this sound test seemed to be highly reliant on one another. Just like Gain and Juice, you can push one, but pushing both resulted in pushing the fuzz harder, too. Getting a balance (or unbalance, if we wanted) of these four knobs yielded the magic in this fuzz box. Once we mated the fuzz with the amp to our liking and dialed everything in, we absolutely loved this pedal.
More subtle applications proved useful as well. With the Gain and/or Juice knobs below 12:00, the pedal served to not-so-radically change our amp tone, nor the amount of compression. Rather, it gave our lead lines an audible, highly desirable character. Good, dynamic tube gear and a great guitar as a starting point should have good distinction and character between the notes, and the BAE Hot Fuzz served only to enhance this.
Our second and final sound test was at a bar gig with over 100 in attendance. With a few Aerosmith tunes on the set list, we figured this was a perfect time to introduce our audience to some BAE magic. We figured correctly. Using the settings we liked in our first sound test, we used the pedal on more than just the few songs we intended. As an added benefit, the treble boost served as a fantastic, live, sound-cutting tool.
We didn’t care for what this pedal did to our rhythm sound (due to the fact that our amp’s gain was set on the high side, and lower amp gain settings produced more useful results), but for cutting through on lead work, it worked like a charm. Our lead playing felt like it was jumping off the fretboard, almost like an uber-compressed, pissed off, compressor pedal with a bad attitude. Mating this tone with our Eventide H9 auto-wah sound was awesome in its own rite, too.
The standard one-year warranty jumps to five years by simply registering products at the BAE website. However, there is no manual printed nor online. Given the intricacies of dialing in this pedal, we would like to see some general manufacturer-supplied guidance, etc.
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