Based on hearing their Kliptonite Overdrive-Fuzz, I can tell you one thing about the people at Stone Deaf: they are anything but. The huge sound and incredibly well-implemented EQ are evidence of a team of designers with excellent ears. The Kliptonite is a success on every front apart from ease of use; fortunately, I’m here to (try to) explain how the pedal works.
At the top left is the Cut/Boost function for the Mids; the Freq selector is on the far right, and separating the two is the “Balance” control, which most of us would call “Volume,” as it controls the output. The knob on the bottom left is the “Mirror Mix”: counterclockwise adds fuzz; clockwise blends in overdrive. On the far right is the Fuzzy Drive, which determines the amount of fuzz and overdrive being applied at any time.
In the middle of all this is the Bandwidth knob, which selects between five voicings. The silk screening says the left side is thinner and the right side has more girth, but that’s an oversimplification; the low end content does shift, but the signal seems to get bigger and more open in the middle of the range. Regardless, I found all of the settings to be useful depending on pickups and amount of distortion, and I’m pretty sure that’s the first time I’ve used the phrase “I found all of the settings to be useful.”
Further, the Mids and Freq controls allow an enormous range of adjustments within the different Balance settings; really, this is an impressively functional design once you understand it.
Essential to the Kliptonite is the left footswitch, which toggles between Overdrive and Fuzz settings, but what that really means is that you’re choosing by which method the pedal’s op-amp will be biased. The Mirror Mix has an added function here: if you’re running the Overdrive channel with 75 percent fuzz and 25 percent Overdrive (and, trust me, you might), then switching to the Fuzz channel will flip that to 25 percent fuzz and 75 percent overdrive. In this example, you’d be toggling between an astonishingly rich distortion and nice, open low-gain setting. Flipping the Mirror Mix setting, you’d get a rich, more traditional overdrive with some nice dynamics and an enormous—but very gated—fuzz.
On that note, let’s talk about the gain characteristics of the two channels. The fuzz is super gated, but with a very bold attack. Notes launch out of the pedal then quickly die out, but the fuzz itself is not super responsive; it’s very old school in feel, but incredibly hi-fi in terms of the richness of sound. Stacked with an overdrive, the fuzz falls into line, providing rich, fat singing distortion (and much faster response) along the lines of a well-biased, maxed-out Fuzz Face or a Big Muff.
The overdrive is more traditional, but excellent. Thanks to the Bandwidth, Mids and Freq controls, it can sound big and open, thick and saturated, or just provide some light shading. I loved the articulate-yet-raging high-gain sounds I was able to dial in by adding more fuzz, but doing so meant I lost the overdrive’s touch sensitivity as the fuzz’s gated sputteriness was lying underneath. Nevertheless, the gain range was as rewarding as it was wide. I’d love to see Stone Deaf create a dedicated overdrive based on this platform [the Warp Drive —ed.]. But, as it is, the Kliptonite has a lot to offer.
Worth noting is the expression pedal functionality; Stone Deaf mentions the ability to create wah and phasing effects by using the Kliptonite’s expression pedal jack. I had to write the builders to ask how to make it work, because my initial efforts resulted in an on-of-off effect. They gave me some tips on setting the EQ, and I was able to summon a cool swelling effect, but I think this is a great example of how the folks at Stone Deaf are great designers, but it appears that wordsmithing is their—dare I say?—Kryptonite. Nevertheless, anyone who enjoys distortion and knob twiddling will find many wonders in the Kliptonite, even without guidance from the builders.
What We Like
Big, bold tones ranging from low-gain overdrive to gated, in-your-face fuzz.
While the Kliptonite sounds fantastic, taking advantage of its many wonderful tones is not always easy due to confusing terminology and directions, but the patient will be rewarded.