In the mid ‘80s through the early ‘90s, there was a particular fuzz-distortion pedal that made the rounds in the metal scene. It was small, black and simple. Man, did it have hair! If the players that favored that pedal had the Dwarfcraft Devices Necromancer back then, the control over the fuzz could have changed everything.
Dwarfcraft made this an attractive pedal. It's purple with black and green intricate artwork that thematically matches its name. There are two rows of three knobs each, two mini-toggle switches and the stomp switch on the face. It has the typical right side input and left side output, and a nine-volt DC input.
In Dwarfcraft's literature and on its website it says that this pedal is made for guitar, but can handle pretty much any instrument. Their website indicates that the pedal is true bypass when not engaged. I started with guitar into a clean channel on my amp. I turned the Volume knob up on the pedal to taste, then played with the other knobs and switches. The top row of knobs contains the Volume, Bias and Gain. I didn't notice any change in sound with the Bias knob, but the Gain goes from a relatively clean stage to super high gain fuzz.
The second row features the Treble, Mids and Bass knobs, and the switch next to them, labeled “EQ,” allows you to turn the EQ on or off. The EQ offers good control of the three bands, which is one of the really nice features of the pedal. It helps you bring out some of the detail that can often get lost in a fuzz pedal.
Another feature of this pedal that stands out is the “mids” switch next to the Gain knob. Flipping this switch allows you to scoop the mid frequencies dramatically, going full-on metal. The pedal really reacts with a slower slew rate—very similar to a tube—and the roundness of the sound prevents a thin solid-state feel. This pedal has got the beef!
Backing off the Gain to 10 o'clock, I was able to get a very vintage tube amp tone. It had a natural break up, as though the amp was cranked. When I really smashed the strings, the Necromancer drove hard in a reactive manner, very much like a tube amp. I was impressed with what I could dial in.
While I'm not a real bass player, I decided to check out how a bass sounds through the Necromancer. It did not disappoint. In fact, when I first heard a bass through this pedal, I wondered if it wasn't designed for bass. It fit so naturally with the bass, fizzing and fuzzing in the right frequency spectrums. Backing off the Bass control on the EQ and goosing the treble gave it clarity and harmonic distortion that you want when affecting a bass in that manner. It's rare, in my experience, to find a pedal that so naturally works with both guitar and bass because of their disparate frequency ranges. The Necromancer handles both very well.
What We Like
The Necromancer sounds fantastic on guitar and bass. The EQ section allows good control of a full fuzz pedal. The flexibility of pulling the EQ out and scooping the mids with the flick of a switch makes this offering that much more attractive.
The pedal is a mid-tone color with black knobs, so setting parameters in a dark club may be an issue, but a minor one. The Bias knob did not seem to have a noticeable effect. There were no instructions with the pedal, and the website offers a bit of information, but not the sort of guidance we generally like to see.