Solidgoldfx’s new Imperial fuzz pedal has a menacing appearance—it’s almost as if it were a long, black Cadillac driven by mysterious men in black. It might appear, suddenly on your pedalboard, perhaps after a disturbing encounter with another, lesser fuzz pedal. And like those shiny, black Cadillacs piloted by men in black, the Imperial might make you forget about other fuzz pedals for the moment. It will truly be the Emperor of the land of fuzz, or at least the King of your pedalboard.
The Imperial excels at producing thick, compressed-sounding fuzz. The Imperial also sounds big, perhaps as big as the empire of fuzz the pedal’s name suggests. To get an idea of this sound, simply imagine Billy Corgan’s distorted tone in songs such as “Mayonaise” or “Hummer.” It’s as if those particularly loud and low notes push the circuitry to its limits. The pedal seemed to even out dynamic changes of this writer’s playing, although not to as large a degree as an actual compression effect might have done.
The Tone knob features a surprisingly smooth taper. The knob allowed for pleasingly minute transitions from, say, a more “neutral” equalization setting to a brighter or darker one. As for the sound itself, the highs are definitely bright and tight and also take on a pleasing electro-sizzle thinness. In practice, the noon position seemed ideal for most chording and single-note work. The Imperial demonstrated a pleasing evenness of transition between the darker tones and the brighter ones.
Unlike so many standard, no-nonsense fuzz pedals on the market, the Imperial offers a king’s ransom of control over the mid-range frequencies. SolidgoldFX incorporated a three-way toggle switch with which three mid-range equalization modes can be chosen: Boost, Scoop, and Flatten. The Scoop mode lent the fuzz a larger, more compressed sound, whereas Boost tended to make the pedal seem louder. The Flatten mode worked just as promised, seemingly emphasizing no particularly frequencies, yet the pedal retained the enormous, high-compression sound.
Unfortunately, the toggle switch is tiny and was a bit difficult to adjust. During testing, it seemed that quick adjustments were out of the question. Moreover, this writer tended to accidentally bump and adjust the Volume and Fuzz knobs while flipping the toggle switch. The result: a totally different, unintended sound! A bigger toggle in a different spot would have been a better idea, but as far as possible changes go, it’s really the only concern that arose during testing.
The Imperial would make an excellent standard fuzz for someone’s pedal board, while offering a bit more value than the original given the Imperial’s added mid-range EQ switch. One might say that it would add a regal touch to one’s tone. And—unlike that king of the road, a genuine Cadillac—it won’t take up too much room on your pedalboard, and it won’t guzzle electricity the way those classic cars guzzled gasoline. Also, it won’t startle you as might the real men in black. It truly is the King of Kings.
What we like: smooth, fat, enormous, compressed fuzz. Mid Boost, Scoop, and Flatten settings.
Concerns: the three-way “Mids” toggle switch was, frankly, a little too small for convenient and quick adjustments. Its placement also presents a challenge: depending on the adjacent knobs’ settings, the user can accidentally adjust the knobs while also adjusting the toggle switch.