Germanium ad infinitum
The sheer scope of tonal possibility crammed into the Lizard Breath Feedback Fuzz is…well…breathtaking! This little red germanium fuzz engine is capable of every spluttering, hissing, purring and sizzling fuzz-tone under the Sun.
Starting with the first incredibly unique feature, I will lift the rock to reveal a built-in boost. I almost always find it necessary to use some kind of boost with germanium fuzz pedals and to have this built into the unit is immensely useful. In buffered mode, with the pedal disengaged, the boost can be used on its own to drive a long chain of pedals. While the pedal is engaged, the Volume knob can add serious weighty sustain to the fuzz after 1 o’clock, or be dialed back to thin out the tone. The Fuzz control can be dialed in to achieve anything from that cool sputtering gasp of a voltage-starved transistor effect, through to bubbling molten leads. This leads me to another brazenly unique feature…the mix knob. The fully counterclockwise settings are pure clean boost and turning clockwise brings in the fuzz. This allows one to enjoy all the fuzz and friction, while preserving the diction of complex chord depiction. Genius. Blending between clean and fuzz transmogrifies the tonal balance in finite increments, for near infinite light-and-shade possibilities. As if that wasn’t enough to keep fuzz freaks smiling and dialing, the sweepable tone control allows the user to set the right frequency and then boost or cut highs with the Cut knob for pinpoint tonal accuracy. Both these controls can be disengaged for a pure, unaffected fuzz tone.
Controlling the chaos
This is where much of the malevolent fuzzy fun begins. The momentary switch on the right engages a ferocious feedback loop while it is depressed. This can be used in so many different ways. When riding out a gritty rhythmic fuzz setting, one can instantly go legato with a quick press of the feedback switch and duck right back into some chugging the instant it is released. Depending on how much chaos you have dialed in on the Feedback control, one can achieve near endless sustain with notes held down. The space in-between notes is woven together with a haywire web of harmonic feedback that tracks in and out of octave intervals randomly. I also love the electric steam kettle whistle that binds together notes in a solo. It reminds me of the opening solo in Dinosaur Jr’s 1993 track “Out There”, which was one of my first forays into the realms of fuzz when I was a youngster. Other potentially radical uses of the feedback switch would be filling a break in a song with heinous noise, or killing the volume on one of the guitar pickups and doing the old selector-killswitch trick for some choppy terror-tremolo effects. When the feedback switch is engaged, every knob on the pedal and guitar controls the pitch and tone of the feedback loop. Clever experimentalists will be able to turn their guitars into glitchy synths and fire breathing Theremins from Hell. Who wouldn’t enjoy that?
What we like: The clever Canadians at Lizard Breath have managed to cram a library of germanium pandemonium into this little red box. The momentary feedback footswitch will infect players like the lethal bacteria-laced bite of a Komodo dragon and devour boring tone on site. It is baffling to have an onboard switchable buffer and six parameter controls crammed into such a pedalboard-friendly enclosure. And, at only $140 this pedal is certainly nothing to sniff at with a forked nine-volt tongue.