Yet another fuzz graces my pedalboard again—ah, what a feeling it is to plug it in, give it power, flip off the standby switch and hear the first notes of a new fuzz roar. It’s a feeling I’m sure many readers can relate to, and today I found myself teetering on the fuzzy towers of the Spires. This device by our “white-gloved team of professional experts in the dirty and dusty canyon of Akron, Ohio” is yet another machine for weird, boundary-pushing sonic exploitation that comes in the form of a sputtering and throaty vintage-flavored fuzz. This device has two channels, which are based on two vintage pedals that EarthQuaker Devices’s founder loved on his board. The Green channel is based on a 1968 Rosac Nu-Fuzz, which is a deceptively simple fuzz with minimal componentry. The insides of a vintage Nu-Fuzz are almost completely empty, save for a few pots, wires, and other such gubbins. The Red channel is based on EQD’s own Dream Crusher fuzz, with silicon transistors instead of germanium. The result is a dark, grimy mess of a fuzz that some will love and some will hate.
The Spires is, like I mentioned above, a two-channel fuzz pedal with two unique vintage inspired channels. On the front we have only four knobs: two big and two small. The two big ones control the individual levels of each channel (much better than a master volume for the whole thing, thanks EQD), and two variable controls.
The Green channel features a Tone control, and the Red channel features a Fuzz control. Both of these circuits are very primitive and very simple, so players not into that should look elsewhere. However, players finding themselves drooling over Maestro Fuzz-Tones or obscure Sears branded vintage fuzz pedals from the ‘60s, will find it to be their cup of tea. The Red channel is quite dark and reacts well to the guitar’s volume knob. When rolled off, the hairier aspects of this fuzz are subdued, giving a really greasy, dark and primitive overdrive sound. I found this mode especially useful for Drop D riffing, and I subsequently tuned down my guitar a whole step to really bring out the darkness in this pedal. With the volume knob rolled up again, the result was the same sort of swampy fuzz characteristic but just with everything extra. More hair, and more bite to the sound.
The Red channel is in the same vein as the Green channel, but is entirely different. This fuzz is very sputtery and angry. Like many early fuzzes, it’s got that same sort of “honky” response to pick attack, (Fun fact: The original FZ-1 was marketed as a device to make the guitar sound like a horn or string instrument, until Keith Richards got ahold of one). This attack combined with a sputtery decay makes this fuzz pretty nasty. As expected, it’s quite a nasal fuzz, as the high mids here are accentuated beyond most modern pedals. It can be a pretty cool tool for riffing and soloing, but I find its lack of definition a little irksome, as some of the notes’ transients were stepping over each other a bit. Remember however, this is a vintage style fuzz. Muddied note transients, and sputtery response are all part of the game. Unfortunately, this will only appeal to a select few, but those who love obscure fuzz tones will be all over this thing,
What We Like:
Accurate recreations of obscure vintage fuzz tones. Dark and greasy characteristic great for rock riffage.
Vintage characteristics will not appeal to everyone.