Over the years, many a pedal maker has tinkered with the old fuzz effect formula. Like cooks who fiddle with an old recipe, pedal makers the world over substitute rare ingredients for the common ones, all in the hope of finding that Platonic form of fuzz. The good chefs at SolidGold are no exception. With a final twist of the fuzz pepper grinder, they have delivered unto the world a new take on an old sound in the form of their If 6 Was 9 fuzz pedal, a fuzz that would be at home in a psychedelic guitar solo or in a song by the Breeders.
Aside from the usual on-off footswitch, the If 6 Was 9 offers the user four controls, three of which modify tone, while the forth modifies volume. The Fuzz knob controls the heart of the pedal, and even at what might seem to be moderate levels around the noon position, the If 6 Was 9 delivered a mighty wall of fuzz. Indeed, so fuzzy was the If 6 Was 9 that in its full-on, 5 o’clock fuzz position, it was possible to get that blown out amplifier sound without actually blowing out an amplifier. Yet one of the virtues of the If 6 Was 9 was its ability to generate fuzz without distracting or extraneous noise.
At the lower levels, the If 6 Was 9 acted a bit like an overdrive pedal in the way that it responded to dynamics. But to really hear the fuzz, which tended to come out more in any note’s decay, one had to pick and pluck harder. At these lower levels, the pedal tended toward a darker sound overall, no matter what other adjustments were made on the tone controls.
The If 6 Was 9 features a tone-expanding, three-way switch that offers a “tight,” “trebly,” or “thick” sound. When SolidGold says that the tone will be thick, the company means it. The fuzz, even at its noon position on the knob, just sounded heavy, almost as if an octave doubler had been turned on. Black Sabbath came to mind, as the If 6 Was 9 produced a wicked distortion that’s great for those thundering power chords and gloomy Dorian riffs.
SolidGold included a Bias knob that will scoop out or add to the mid-range of the signal. One might imagine that in all possible settings, the Bias would act as a mere EQ, but the reality is more interesting than that. True, in the low and middle settings of the fuzz knob, the Bias would either “hollow out” or make a little more nasal the resulting fuzz. But in the higher fuzz settings, the Bias could, when in its extreme positions, just as easily lend the fuzz a decaying battery sound, that sort of electric fizzle that stands in sharp contrast to the smooth, thick and resonant fuzz one can obtain when the Bias is set to noon.
The If 6 Was 9 delivers the variety of fuzz that today’s musicians often seek. Whether one is searching for a classic bluesy fuzz sound, or for a heavy, smooth fuzz fit for classic and proto-metal, or even for some sort of avant-garde noise rock, SolidGold’s pedal will accommodate and perhaps surpass the user’s sonic imagination.
What we like: A variety of fuzz sounds, from thick and smooth to thinner and with more bite. Solid construction in a cool, grey casing.
Concerns: The three-way Tone switch is somewhat awkward to access. It’s hard to change the setting without accidentally turning the Volume or Fuzz knobs, between which the Tone switch sits.