REVIEW: Cusack Screamer Fuzz

 The Cusack Screamer Fuzz is a flexible little monster. Part overdrive, part fuzz, it doesn’t quite know what it is, but it certainly knows what it’s not: polite and wimpy. It’s based on the company’s Screamer pedal, which Cusack themselves describe as “A Tube Screamer copy, but …much more than that.” The Screamer offers around twice the available gain of a typical Ibanez Tube Screamer, which sounds pretty cool to me, but the Screamer Fuzz goes even further, starting with the basic Screamer guts, but with a bit of a twist too. A filthy, dirty, fuzzy twist.

 

The Screamer Fuzz features Level and Scream controls very much like the Screamer pedal, but it also has a Fuzz knob in place of the Screamer’s Tone control. Turn the Fuzz knob all the way counterclockwise and there’s no fuzz. Crank it up for what Cusack calls “Broken Op-Amp’ tone which cuts out as your note decays. Similarly, turn the Scream knob all the way down for no gain (but you can still use the Level control to put a little hurt on your preamp), or crank it. Both the Screamer and the Screamer Fuzz have a Clip Selector switch and associated LED, which lets you select between Standard, Crushed or Assymetrical LED clipping.

 

Slightly confusingly, the power LED is green when the pedal is bypassed, and red when the effect is engaged, but if this doesn’t work for you, you can turn it off by holding the switch down for a few seconds until the LED blinks. The Clip LED follows your playing in LED clip mode, with the brightness varying depending on the power of your pickups and the Scream knob setting. There’s also a neat little secret feature (which kinda sounds like a happy design accident, but I’ll take it!): if you hit the pedal’s front end with another gain pedal, you can use the clip LED to tune your guitar! Hit the fifth fret and the next open string (or the fourth fret of the G if you’re tuning the B string), and tune until the LED stops oscillating. Neat!

 

You can get a wide range of fuzz and overdrive sounds out of this puppy, from the crunchy and chunky to the overblown and bloatedly corpulent kind of fuzz that makes you want to quit school and join a garage band. This is a good thing. The Fuzz knob really helps add some hair and raunch to the otherwise mellifluous Scream control, and you won’t find yourself missing the Screamer’s tone control at all: there’s just so much else to do with the various combinations of Fuzz, Scream and clipping that there isn’t really a particular need for it. The Fuzz control introduces a kind of upper midrange punch that seems to leap out of your speakers and latch onto the neck of the nearest unsuspecting listener. That too is a good thing. The Screamer Fuzz seems to particularly like humbuckers, which appear to really bring the best out of the fuzz side of the circuit. When you use single coils it has a different character which is gloriously jagged at times, but buckers really seem to bring on the awesome.

 

There are plenty of Tube Screamer-inspired grit boxes but few are as bold and innovative as this one. It has a lot of its own character, and it really comes across as much more than just yet another Tube Screamer clone.

 

LINK: Cusack Screamer Fuzz